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: Just finished watching Mid-Ohio and was very pleased with the racing, absence of yellows, and the TV commentary. Certainly not the parade that some folks were predicting.
RM: For the second time this year (Road America being the first) I came away thinking I’d just seen one of the best road races ever, and from the mail I’m receiving from you folks, I’d say that is a popular opinion. I’ve been to so many races at Mid-Ohio that were only missing floats and big balloons, but last Sunday was damn good racing.
Q: Could you pass along my thanks to the crew manning the production booth and the director for NBC Sports for Mid-Ohio? They did a great job of using the in-car footage to show how close the guys were racing. Nothing like watching the bumping, rubbing, and “whoa whoa whoa!” incidents. That is how an IndyCar race should be broadcast. I caught myself tensing up, waiting for the inevitable crash that never happened. Great production work! My wife commented on how the guys in the booth were going back and forth giving each other crap. Yep, they were, and it was entertaining! You talk with the guys in the booth – how are they enjoying the work and the racing?
John Balestrieri, Milwaukee
RM: P.T. and Townsend can’t agree on how many letters are in NBC, but it’s not an act as much as it is their personalities – neither ever thinks they’re wrong, and that’s good television. Not to mention they both know what’s going on behind the wheel, and that rings true every race, because there are very few things that escape them. I don’t have to watch a lap to know what’s happening because they’re always anticipating what’s coming, and Leigh Diffey does a good job of keeping them reigned in and staying on top of things. And, yes, they like each other and have some chemistry, which is obvious.
Q: Great race yesterday. Was the crowd as large as it seemed on television? It seems that every week we hear about potential new teams for 2019. How many cars would be too many, and how many new teams do you think are realistic for next season?
RM: It was good. Not a Nigel Mansell crowd or late ‘90s CART turnout, but easily one of the best of 2018, along with Road America and Long Beach. And the Mid-Ohio crowd is just like Elkhart Lake, they come early and stay late, and they sport swag from their favorite drivers. They are the heart of IndyCar. Too early to call the car count, but it should be up by a couple.
Q: Been reading your stuff for some time Miller; finally biting the bullet and writing to you. Ticket pricing for Mid-Ohio pissed me off. I venture to guess I’m IndyCar’s target market. Early 30s, financially stable, married with children, and most importantly, a diehard fan. I grew up going to Burke Lakefront and Mid-Ohio. Back in the 90s they would have free or reduced price tickets for Friday’. My fandom began with those family days spent baking in the mid-summer sun, reveling in the sound of pop-off valves.
My son is now two, and earlier this month I thought to myself, ‘I need to get him trackside for IndyCar at Mid-Ohio’. Then I looked up ticket prices. Green Savoree wanted $45 at the gate for a Friday general admission ticket. WTF? Sure, my boy would be free, but add on the ticket for grandpa, plus food/drinks, the paddock pass is another $40 each, and God forbid we want to park in the infield (another $30). Can I afford that? Yep. Do I think that’s reasonable? Nope. IndyCar need to work with promoters, sponsors and teams to make it more accessible for families who are looking for a single-day trip. Just my two cents, as I try to ensure IndyCar has another generation of fan from my bloodline.
Zachery A. Casto
RM: Well it was a ghost town on Friday so evidently a lot of people felt like you did, and that does seem awfully pricey. Infield parking should be free at any road course, and George Bruggenthies offers a great package at Road America that includes parking and paddock passes.
Q: I was at Mid-Ohio, and spent the money for a pit pass. While taking photos from behind the pits during Saturday qualifying a Mid Ohio security (that’s what it said on the back of his shirt) person told me to stop shooting because the teams didn’t like people taking pictures from there. I looked at him, laughed out loud and said, ‘you’re joking, right?’, to which he replied, ‘No’. So I turned and walked away from him, stopped at the next pit area and proceeded to take more pictures. I know the area behind the pits at Mid-Ohio is narrow, and it does tend to get a bit cramped as the teams move their equipment and carts around. I try to be cognizant of the crew members and stay out of the way. I was behind the lines and not in the pit stall.
Have you ever heard the teams or drivers complain about having their pictures taken? From my experience (I’ve been going to races since the late ’60s), there are always lots of fans and pros pointing cameras at the cars and stars, so I could not comprehend what this guy was telling me. I make sure to stay out of the way. I’m not bugging them for autographs, I just like to get some good shots of the action.
Paul H, Lockport, NY
RM: I’ve never heard of any drivers or mechanics complaining about fans taking photos (Ashley Judd used to bitch but who cares?), and thankfully you continued to shoot. Mid-Ohio is a helluva lot roomier than every street race on the circuit, and I always applaud the volunteers and workers at the tracks because they work long hours. But that guy was way off-base.