Q: You keep mentioning Kevin Lee’s suggestion of having Iowa as a Wednesday night race during the MLB All-Star break. In the same paragraph, you mention how you think moving the race back to Saturday night will help the crowd, and that’s so people can travel to the area. I understand how Kevin’s idea would help the TV numbers, but for attendance your two opinions conflict each other pretty strongly. Which part of this riddle am I missing?
Kyle, Edwardsville, IL
RM: It’s no riddle. Iowa is definitely going back to Saturday night and that’s a huge positive, while having an oval race on Wednesday night during baseball’s All-Star break is only a great idea that may or may not ever be acted upon.
Q: First of all, you have the greatest job in the world – covering IndyCar racing – and I want to thank you for your in-depth stories and everything you do to keep the fans in the loop with the best form of racing on the planet. I am currently away at school and therefore will be unable to attend my home race at Pocono Raceway this year. I’m extremely distraught over this, and am hoping that you have some good news about the series returning to the track for years to come. The past few years (including the race on Monday afternoon in 2016) had pretty good attendance and the energy in the stands was great. Please give some good news, otherwise I will be flunking some classes in order to make sure that I can make it to the last race there.
Trevor, heart of NASCAR country (bleah), Port Orange, FL
RM: I don’t know about years to come – that’s a decision that must be reached by both parties, and it’s tough for Pocono because it’s got Cup races in June and late July before hosting the ABC Supply 500 in mid-August. I imagine it’s got a chance to break even with ABC Supply as the title sponsor, but attendance has been less than impressive since returning six years ago. But I think you’re safe for 2019, so don’t cut class.
Q: You talk a lot about getting more fans at Sonoma and now Laguna. One problem I have with the final race is the double-points thing. I get how it allows more drivers to have a shot at the title, but It leave a poor taste in my mouth when a driver who kicked ass all season has his one bad race at a double-points weekend and loses big. How about having a dual standard-points race at Laguna like they have in Detroit? It is novel, more TV time, high-pressure for the teams, more tension, so good hype to increase the draw. What do you think? Also, tell those guys to do some marketing south of the track. There are a lot of people that would head up if they know it was happening. It is not just a Bay Area draw.
Paul Rubel, Santa Barbara, CA
RM: I’d much rather see a doubleheader with split points than one race, but not sure Laguna would be on board with it. It does give the promoter a better shot at getting a Saturday crowd,but it likely costs more as well, in terms of the sanction fee. But there were twin bills at IRP, Kent, Brainerd, Mosport and St. Jovite back in the 1960s, and they worked fine. Make it look special, and maybe it will be.
Q: I wholeheartedly agree that Canada deserves a second venue, but I think racing on the Grand Prix circuit would draw inevitable comparisons to F1. What do you think about the Trois Rivieres course? The current 1.5-mile configuration might be a bit short, but I think there is a 2.1-mile configuration as well. Mont Tremblant is a beautiful location, but it is a ways from the Big City…
Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA
RM: When Champ Car ran Montreal from 2003-2006 there were big crowds, and as long as you have a couple of French-Canadians (Zach Claman de Melo, and they also loved Seb) it can work again. Comparisons didn’t make any difference back then and wouldn’t today, because the racing is so much better than F1. St. Jovite (Mont Tremblant) is gorgeous but too far away from civilization, while Trois Rivieres is too small.
Q: With Homestead out of the picture to replace Phoenix, Laguna confirmed to be replacing Sonoma, and Mark Miles saying we will have 17 races next year, what other tracks would be in contention? Heard Richmond was also in play – is it still in play? With Pat O’Ward leading the Indy Lights points, where does that leave Mexico City? If I recall correctly, someone in a previous Mailbag a month or to ago alluded to someone trying to get Cleveland off the ground, could that be close at all if a promoter is found? Is Detroit in as much danger as the local news outlets say? Is there another track that we haven’t heard about yet that’s interested?
RM: I think IndyCar is looking at all ovals, from Kentucky to Richmond to Rockingham to Martinsville to Michigan to Milwaukee, but it takes two to tango, so nothing is confirmed yet, or even close. If Pato O’Ward wins the Lights title and gets an IndyCar ride it might be a good time to revisit Mexico City, but he probably needs a year or two of seasoning to grow his following. Cleveland is dormant, and I think Detroit will be fine.