Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.
Your questions for Robin should continue to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you. And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, Robin will pass these on to Marshall Pruett and he will also answer here.
Q: I thought Road America was a good race. A normal race, if you want. Fastest driver-car combination won, RHR challenged, and it was noticeable that, as he said, he was running at 110%, and so was Dixie. There are some voices claiming that this was the worst race ever. I think those people have not seen a lot of races, and the fact that there were no passes for the lead does not make racing less interesting.
I must say that I was a bit disappointed with NBC broadcast. It’s way better than ABC (although I miss Beekhuis) but they were just a bit shy about showing all the action back in the pack. Back to the race… One thing I found interesting is the fact that, despite this car being so difficult to drive, there aren’t many going off, and I can’t even remember when was the last race without a full-course yellow!
P.S. I loved your feature on The Invisible Champion.
P.S.2: I’ll leave the argument about Rossi’s driving to my fellow fans, but I’d rather see IndyCar let the drivers race than applying silly penalties all the time.
Ignacio, from Argentina
RM: With about 14 laps to go, the first six drivers were all within seven seconds of each other around a 4-mile road course without a single yellow flag to bunch up the field. Dixon pushed RHR as hard as RHR pushed Newgarden, and they never flinched. They drove as hard as possible for 100 minutes without making a mistake. I think that’s the essence of road racing. I thought it was a damn good race and I was in the pits watching the monitor. I imagine if we had two or three more cameras we’d catch all the action, because our producer loves to jump around and show the good battles. But it’s tough to cover four miles. Last race with no cautions was 2017 at Sonoma (thanks Russ Thompson for the stat).
Q: My wife and I just left Road America for the third year in a row. Again we had a great time. However my wife said as we left…”that was a boring race.” So what was your feeling? It seemed to me that there was hardly any passing even mid-pack. They were talking about dirty air after the race. I thought the new bodywork was supposed to be cleaner. What, if anything, has gone wrong?
RM: Like I said above, anytime you have three drivers battling to the end on a 4-mile road course with no yellow flags it’s a helluva race – especially considering the trio that was chasing each other. Of course it’s in the eye of the beholder, but I heard from a lot of road racing fans that loved the balls-out, error-free driving for an hour and a half. But I think there was more passing than you imagined. IndyCar says there were 161 total on-track passes (Hinch and Pagenaud each had 14) and 125 total on-track position passes (Hinch and Pagenaud had 11 each) so at least for the first 10-12 laps it was pretty racy. But I’ve seen Mario or Michael or Al Junior or Zanardi win by almost a lap at road courses, and that was boring. Not Sunday.
Q: Great weekend at RA. Your article pretty much nailed the great atmosphere. Why do they call Turn 12 at Road American ‘Canada Corner’? I heard a tale that if your brakes fail entering, you will end up in Canada? Can you give us the real story?
RM: John Ewart, RA’s communications director kindly confirmed the legend:
“During Road America’s first season in 1955, the track owner hired the local Boy Scouts to pick up all the garbage under the grandstands after each event. Among the usual litter were large amounts of empty Canadian beer cans and lots of empty Canadian cigarette packs. Corner workers and volunteers got wind of this and renamed Turn 12, Canada Corner.”
Q: Nice article regarding Elkhart Lake weekend on RACER, including the mention of the promoter’s work that made it such a success. I think the future for additional races is probably on traditional road racing circuits (Mid-Ohio) etc. not owned by ISC. Unfortunately, I don’t see much promotion here in Toronto for a Mosport race (even Hinch and Wickens seem to favor Montreal). I find it strange, as in my view IndyCar would draw pretty much as well at Mosport at it does at Elkhart Lake, and also has IndyCar history (albeit one that dates back to the late 70s). I know safety is often mentioned as an issue, but I can’t see any real difference from Road America on that one. Can’t even figure out why a point-and-squirt circuit like Montreal seems popular with the Canadian drivers, other than an anticipated large crowd. Heck, Mont Tremblant, north of Montreal, is a fabulous track as well.
Mark Kidson, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
RM: HInch and Wickens favor Montreal over Toronto? You mean the track, not the city I assume? Everyone says Mosport is too dangerous (there is a letter about Jeff Green further down in the Mailbag that sheds some light) and Road America has a much better run-off area (although I love Bob Rahal’s line about how much run-off does Indy have at 230 mph?) I do think Mosport would draw well, and I was at Mount Tremblant in 2007 for Champ Car and it’s a great layout that drew decently considering how far it is from Montreal. But with Wickens and Hinch, at least two races in Canada should be mandatory.