Q: Iowa was great. Reminded me of an old CART short oval race. Tons of traffic and the driver really had to work. With your report on NBCSN that Iowa is looking to be back on a Saturday night next year, has anyone ever considered making Iowa a Friday night/ Saturday night doubleheader? It would be a great oval replacement for Phoenix.
Chris, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
RM: Not heard that ever mentioned, but Kevin Lee has been touting a Wednesday night race during the baseball All-Star game week. On NBC. I’d rather see that than a doubleheader, and all it takes is one big accident to ruin a back-to-back oval doubleheader. Plus I don’t know how many promoters even like the idea. We do, but we don’t have to pay a sanction fee.
Q: Will the Iowa Speedway race be held on the same weekend next year? If so, it’ll be the same weekend as Knoxville’s new Corn Belt Nationals, a two-day non-wing sprint car event. Wouldn’t it make sense for IndyCar, USAC, Knoxville, and Iowa Speedway to get together and promote the weekend together? Maybe a ticket package for both nights at Knoxville and both days at Iowa?
Nathan Carter, Kansas City
RM: My understanding is that it will be a different date in 2019, but track president Dave Hyatt is going to have a press conference soon to reveal the plan. I talked to him for a half hour and he’s very aware of trying to do something special with Knoxville and its fans in conjunction with the IndyCar race. IndyCar also needs to take some drivers to Knoxville and make some new fans. It’s a natural.
Q: I certainly hope Iowa can stay on the IndyCar schedule, but I was at the race and attendance has been very poor the last few years. My solution is keeping Gateway in the spot it has, and moving Iowa to the finale, replacing Sonoma. Hopefully, it would create buzz for the IndyCar race. With three Canadian drivers, I would like to see the Iowa date go to another race in Canada like Calgary. Also, instead of Homestead, is it possible the series replaces Phoenix with a race in Mexico? It looks like Pato O’Ward is the real deal, and could help create buzz in that market. If the series feels the need to fill the oval void with Phoenix departing, is it possible that Chicagoland or Kentucky would want a September race after Portland and before the finale? Having two races in Canada and one in Mexico is all the series needs as far as international flavor.
Brian, Joliet, IL
RM: Iowa will be back in 2019 and beyond, and I’d much rather see the IndyCar season end there than Sonoma, but not sure about bucking college football. Calgary is a pipedream at the moment, but Montreal could be in play in a year or two, and yes, we need at least two races in Canada. Pato gave me a good answer about Mexico City when I asked him if he was a big enough name yet to carry that race: “I’m not Adrian (Fernandez) but I’m working on it.” He probably needs a couple more years build up his following. Kentucky might be a possibility again some day.
Q: During the Iowa broadcast, the announcers were falling all over themselves about “Junior’s ‘slide job’ term from his Cup broadcast. Please educate them as to the origin of this term and how it relates to IndyCar racing. Nothing against Junior, but it was a phrase long before he heard it.
RM: I think it was the way he said it, with such exuberance, that got everyone excited, not so much that he coined the term. I’m sure he’s given and received a few sliders in his career, but as we know the real slide jobs are on the dirt, so his dad and grandfather likely experienced those and gave out a few.
Q: Longtime reader of the Mailbag, first-time writer. Will be going to Mid-Ohio and just saw the schedule released today. I noticed there is no Sunday morning warm-up for the IndyCars in the schedule. It certainly isn’t because the schedule is too full, as Sunday’s activity doesn’t start until 10:00 a.m. This is disappointing, as we continue to see less and less on-track action but don’t see any reduction in ticket cost. I like the warm-up, as it gives us another chance to watch the cars on the track. I guess it’s just the old guy in me venting a little (been a follower of Indy cars since the late ’60s), but I would like to understand why they have gotten rid of the warm-up. I don’t think it treats the fans well.
Paul Herrmann, Lockport NY
RM: I think IndyCar needs to reinstate the warm-up for Road America and Mid-Ohio because you have so many campers that love it. I get why there’s no race day warm-up on ovals, but those two make a lot of sense.
Q: What are the chances of McLaren buying the Ganassi team outright or in partnership? Ganassi is a businessman and this might be a way to go out on top – an exit strategy, if you will. Dixon could even be given an opportunity to buy into the new team to keep the current organization working around him for a few more years. What do you think?
Regarding “television numbers” unless it’s on Netflix or something, people nowadays don’t wait around for the broadcast on cable or local television. It’s all going online, and television is late to the party. Online access, paid or subscription or whatever, will be the way to go moving forward. Television numbers can no longer be counted on as gospel, and advertisers need to know that.
John P Merli, San Diego
RM: Why would McLaren want to buy an IndyCar team when it can simply rent or lease a car or cars? And why would Chip want out? Racing is his life and he’s not that old. And I think Dixie is way too smart to ever buy into an IndyCar team. Like it or not, TV ratings still control advertising dollars.