Q: Back in the day, “Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain” was (in my humble view) the best racing program for fans of many different types of racing. And I know you were part of it, so is there any chance that you could pitch a reboot to NBCSN and become the host since Mr. Despain is retired and most likely on a long-deserved motorcycle vacation?
Mark M., Floyds Knobs, IN
RM: It was the best racing show ever on television and had a loyal audience, and I still can’t believe FOX blew it up to waste millions on a bunch of shows that failed miserably. But I do think NBC and NBCSN will take a serious look at doing some kind of IndyCar show next year – just don’t think it would be the wide-open format of Wind Tunnel. And Dave is out riding his bike as we speak.
Q: I thought Iowa was a very good race. You pointed out that the promoter wants to go back to Saturday nights, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m aware this is probably a non-starter idea because of a lot of reasons – most notably the series’ absolutely absurd fear of running past Labor Day – but hear me out. Run the week after Labor Day, and have the Knoxville track champion in the Indy Lights race. The whole season of promotion at Knoxville and the chance to see one of their own get a taste of the big stage would have to send an appreciable amount of people to Newton for the race. While we’re on unattainable schedule goals, we all want Watkins Glen back. By moving Iowa to September, it would help give teams a break in July, so It’s not Road America, Watkins Glen (IMSA doubleheader), Iowa, and Toronto on four straight weekends. I know money doesn’t flow freely, but there are some options out there. Why wouldn’t the event’s very Iowa-centric sponsor be interested as well?
Eric Z, Lancaster, NY
RM: IndyCar will run past Labor Day this year, but it’s probably more a question of what fits best for Iowa. Regardless of when it’s held, I love the idea of the Knoxville champion running a Lights car after a proper test. I think that could draw another 4,000 people. Iowa Corn would likely do whatever is suggested by Iowa Speedway, but involving Knoxville would be very smart.
Q: A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Formula Promotions weekend at Mid-Ohio. Running with them that weekend was the U.S. Formula 4 series (sanctioned by the SCCA and run under FIA Formula 4 regulations). In what is only the series’ third season, they have car counts of 30 or more. The SCCA is starting a Formula 3 series this year. What are your thoughts on whether IndyCar would ever adopt the F3 and/or F4 series as rungs on the MRTI and potentially abandon their current line-up of series? This formatting would be much more attractive to not only teams, but drivers as well.
Jacob Perl, Mansfield, OH
RM: I think there are way too many open-wheel series right now and maybe there’s some kind of middle ground that Dan Andersen’s Mazda Road to Indy could adopt, but it seems that Formula 4 is a much cheaper alternative and that’s why the big car count. I imagine if the Indy Lights field doesn’t get to 14-15 by next year then it’s time to do some re-thinking, but Pro Mazda and USF2000 have stout fields so they’re working.
Q: Been a lifelong IndyCar fan, and with all this modern era emphasis on making sure the races are entertaining, here is what I would do. Go Saturday night short-track style and make the fields start according to points, with the championship leader starting last and working forward according to standings. Guaranteed action. Change the name of qualifying to something else, but pay points. This won’t happen, but it sure would be entertaining!
Shannon Schmidt, Salt Lake City, Utah
RM: It could work and be very entertaining with sponsorship and decent purse to make that extra racing pay off, but it’s tough enough to find a title sponsor, let alone for something like this.
Q: Well another year of racing in Toronto in the books. What a weekend it was, too! Great racing, and the Ex was as full of people as I have ever seen it! It was also great having the opportunity to meet and chat with you in person about IndyCar, IndyCar racing in Canada, the Mailbag and how to improve the sport. Was honestly a highlight of my weekend! This leads to my question: have you ever considered writing a book about IndyCar? One of these “Tales from the Paddock” type books? I think it would be really cool to read some of your stories from over the years, as you have so many of them and always tell stories so well! I know I would be at the front of the line to buy it, and I’m sure a lot of other people would pick up a copy as well!
Ben from Toronto
RM: I imagine if I ever wrote a racing book it would include a lot about Indy cars from the ’60s and ’70s, and a lot about USAC racing and some of the characters I’ve been lucky enough to become friends with, but no plans at the moment. I’ve written down a lot of stories in case I start to forget, and A.J. will have at least three chapters. But I appreciate your sentiments.