Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 18, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 18, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 18, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Champ Car under lights in Cleveland, 2003. Image by Levitt/LAT

Q: I often hear that IndyCar wasn’t promoted at The Glen last go-’round. I live near Rochester, NY and I saw ads on TV every day for a couple of months promoting the race, same on the radio, and I saw billboards around. The governor of NY threw in a couple hundred thousand dollars for promotion for the race, and I even saw IndyCar drivers on the Buffalo and Rochester news weeks before the event. Not sure it was horrible promotion, and I truly hope it’s not a sign that fans just aren’t interested anymore. I know I buy tickets even if I can’t get off work, and give them to family and friends. Such a shame because Watkins Glen is right here up there with Road America as the best in America/world. I hope they go back and fans support it.

Tom, Geneseo, NY

RM: Well that’s good because it the first time I’ve heard that but I think an IMSA/IndyCar doubleheader might be solution and IndyCar could run Saturday with the six-hour race on Sunday and both televised by NBC and NBCSN. The Glen is a treasure, just like Road America.

Q: I was watching my second-favorite open-wheel series, the F1 parade, but at Silverstone, shock of shocks, a ‘race’ broke out. Isn’t that the first time the F1 drivers actually raced since Kimi won Spa in 2009 (“Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”)? Racing is something IndyCars do about every time. So, what about this fantasy: They somehow could race each other (cross fertilization a la Alonso), or the [unmatched] cars like Questor GP or the Race of Two Worlds. Seems impossible, but the FIA and IMSA pull it off to some degree at Le Mans! I don’t see how it would be done, but I’d love to see Kimi and RHR wheel-to-wheel.  Or Will Power and Max Verstappen. Delicious.

Mark Lamontia, Landenberg, PA

RM: In today’s world of contracts, egos and specialized drivers I just don’t see it happening unless somebody put up $10 million. They have that Race of Champions every year, but it’s hardly the stuff IROC was built on and not nearly as entertaining as the other two races you mentioned.

Q: I recall back in 2003 the Cleveland race for Champ Car being under the lights. Why was that the only year they attempted this? Is this a possibility for a future road/street course race?

Alan Bandi, Butler, PA

RM: They also did it at Milwaukee in either 2003 or 2004, but those Musco lights are pretty expensive, and the race at Cleveland stayed light until the final 30 minutes so it was kind of a waste of money. I think IMS plans to use that kind of lighting for the upcoming midget race in September. It would be too expensive to do at a road course, but possibly a street show if you had plenty of help from the downtown lights.

Q: After going to the Gateway race last year and seeing how heavily Bommarito Auto Group promoted it makes me ask whether this is profitable for the Bommarito Group, and if so, why doesn’t IndyCar go to some major car dealers in the Louisville and Cincinnati markets with data how it has been a win for Bommarito Auto Group? Maybe that is what it takes to get Kentucky Speedway on future IndyCar schedules? Want my home state race back!

James Thomas, Campbellsville, KY

RM: John B. is evidently one of the largest, if not the largest, advertiser in St. Louis, so he inundated the locals with IndyCar ads and he also ran radio spots here in Indianapolis six months out. When you say profitable, he put a nice chunk of change to be the title sponsor so I don’t know if he got it all back, but Bommarito is an anomaly. He loves IndyCar racing and out his money behind the product and the folks at Gateway. I wish every track had a Jonathan Bommarito. I suppose IndyCar could try what you suggest, but right now they can’t sell a title sponsor for the series, road race or Pole Day so I’d say no way on your suggestion.

Q: Tommy Kendall stated during the IMSA race in Canada that he was told by Paul Tracy about a possible IndyCar test for Colin Braun. Have you heard the same? Colin has certainly paid his dues and raced anything he could fit into – sports car, trucks, etc. At 29 he would seem old, but back in the day that was the norm (especially after watching your Tough Guys video on George Follmer). What team might he test and sign with?

Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA

RM: P.T. didn’t say but he told me during our production meeting that I needed to get behind Braun and start promoting him. I remember 10 years ago when everyone was talking about him in open wheel but nothing materialized. RACER’s story last week showed just how versatile he’s been, so it would be cool if he could put something together.

Q: Don’t do that! I just about leaped out of my chair with excitement at the thought of IndyCars on the 5/8 mile oval at Oswego! A full weekend with the nation’s fastest purpose-built short track oval cars as well as the world’s fastest purpose-built race cars?! Sign me up! It’ll never happen, but imagine Friday with Indy practice, a 30-lap Limited Super feature followed by an ISMA winged super 50-lapper. Saturday, you have Indy qualifying and a 100 lap non-wing supermodified feature event. Sunday, it’s the IndyCar feature of 250 laps. I would pay upwards of $200 for a weekend ticket to something like that!

They have enough seating. You’d probably have to replace the boilerplate/styrofoam combo with SAFER barriers and figure out the pit lane setup. It’d take money, but wow what a show that would be! The best thing? Oswego outlawed rear-engine cars in the ’70s. It would be an incredible juxtaposition of the race car design split in open-wheel racing’s past next to the modern incarnations of both ideas of race car design. The IndyCar with its stressed turbo V6 rear engine carbon fiber design and the super modified with its tube frame and massive 450 cubic inch offset flame-throwing bolted in power plants, both requiring smart aerodynamics. If you can’t do it at Oswego, try to pull it off at Richmond. The ISMA and Oswego guys would likely make the trip for $10k to win! And definitely call it the Bentley Warren Classic! Supers and IndyCars are a match made in heaven where race fans don’t know what they don’t know.

Dave Long, Reading, PA

RM: I think it would draw, but the expense of preparing the track for IndyCars would likely be the deterrent. We’d have Bentley be the grand marshall and Joe Gosek sing the national anthem.