Q: I hope that the Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle remains a mainstay for Indy. It is a challenging track for the drivers, is a beautiful location for race fans and provides a great venue centered in America’s historical motor industry as well as being a Midwestern city. Great race. I also really enjoy the dual races.
RM: I think as long as Roger Penske and Chevrolet are in IndyCar, so will Belle Isle.
Q: People always ask about having an oval after the Indy 500, and I know there is no talk of Michigan coming back and Milwaukee is being torn down. So here’s my question: Would it be possible for the Detroit GP and Texas to swap race weekends? Or is Mr. Penske dead set on having the Detroit race be the weekend after Indianapolis?
Evan from Youngstown, Ohio
RM: Texas used to follow Indy, and I think it would help the momentum to stay on an oval after Indy, but The Captain insists on Detroit as the next race and that’s not going to change.
Q: Used to be there were cars in ’80s and ’90s that were sponsored by at least two major companies, so you had cars like Kmart/Havoline, Kmart/Budweiser, STP/Kraco, Valvoline/Cummins – the cars had a two-tone paint scheme and livery looked consistent throughout the race year. Nowadays, I still see cars with at least one sponsor for close to half the number of races and another equally good sponsor for the other races, and the cars are displayed with two different paint schemes.
For example Simon Pagenaud’s car with Menard and DXC, or Spencer Pigot’s car with Prefered Freezer and Fuzzy’s. If these sponsors appear to sponsor for almost equal number of races, why not combine and present a car with a combined livery that’s consistent throughout the race year? It might even produce some unique paint schemes, and more consistency and identification with a particular team, driver and car. What do you think?
RM: I think it’s all dependent on what the contract says and how much money changes hands. It also shows you how tough it is to get full funding these days.
Q: I think any and all double points races are stupid. I know several drivers agree with me. However on his podcast a few weeks ago, Hinch threw out an idea I wasn’t expecting (if you don’t listen to Off Track with Hinch and Rossi, you should because is hilarious and very interesting). Hinch proposed that no points be given for the Indy 500. After two weeks of thinking about this, I still have no idea what to think of it. I cannot decide if that idea makes sense or not. I can see what he’s talking about, given how different the whole month of May is from any other race with extended practicing, lots of one offs, etc. On the flipside, it’s still very much an IndyCar race run with the same cars as every other race, and the teams that show up for the rest of the season show up at Indy to try to win and get a good points haul. What do you think of making Indy an exhibition race or, as Hinch put it, “Indycar’s All-Star Race”?
Max Camposano, Los Altos, CA
RM: I despise double points and qualifying points, period. But the Indy 500 has to count towards the championship. Hell, most people think it’s the only race IndyCar runs. It makes more sense to protect full-timers at Indy than making it some NASCAR charade.
Q: Love your Mailbag posts. One disappointment I had this year was pole day. Helio won the pole, but had to defend it the following day. Pole day should be pole day, end of story. It was great to see actual bumping going on, and it looks like next year there will hopefully be more cars in the running. Not being a Rossi fan, but he is a perfect fit for Andretti (as he treats fans about as well as Marco does… poorly) but last week in Belle Isle, shouldn’t he have been assessed a penalty for passing the pace car? (Not sure if there is a rule saying you are allowed to pass if the pace car wrecks?) With the switch to NBC Sports, will you still be reporting?
Jay Vandroff, Sarasota, FL
RM: I agree totally. I’d be for going back to Pole Day and Bump Day and getting rid of the silly seeding on Saturday and the boring 10-33 on Sunday. I get that the Fast 9 is good for television, but both could be compelling again with 40 cars. Rossi just tried to avoid all the carnage from the pace car crash, no, he did nothing wrong. I hope to be with NBC, so maybe they’ll invoke the “David Hobbs Rule” and protect me until I’m 70.
Q: Can you explain “The Leader’s Circle” that drained $22 million from the purse? Is this IndyCar’s version of Bernie Ecclestone?
Bob Traina, St. Louis, MO
RM: If you commit to running the full season, IndyCar gives you $1 million (I think it’s only $850,000 this year) per car, and it’s a form of franchising. But that’s why the IndyCar purses are so lame, that money had to come from IndyCar.