Q: With all the talk about the Northwest missing out for a long time before Portland got back on the schedule, it got me wondering why not Vancouver again? I remember the Olympics was the reason it disappeared, but now, why not? It always pulled in big numbers and was a decent race.
RM: Pretty simple. The circuit downtown was decimated by construction for the Olympics, and there’s no other place to race. But the crowds were always gigantic.
Q: My passion for IndyCar is overflowing since the schedule was announced. Overflowing in a way that most people probably don’t want to hear. I feel like ranting, so just bear with me. We have a schedule: that’s the good news. Bad news is that we’re going to the Tilke-dome called COTA. Another processional race in the making. The painted asphalt on the edge of the track is awful. You will see people trying to race all the way down onto that. Basically, you can run all the way off the track with no penalty. If that was all sand/ gravel/ grass, no-one would attempt it. I could come up with a better track design then Herman Tilke could.
Then I come to Laguna Seca, another track that people have been clamoring to see return. Seems a lot of people have forgotten how boring races there were. Only two races there that had a pass for the lead on the last lap, and several had zero passes for the lead.
Now that I am finished ranting, I do have a question. What criteria is going to be used to determined the length of these two new events? It’s a shame that one of these new dates didn’t go to another oval, like one that you have been suggesting – Richmond. This past week there has been news of the sale of the Old North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham to a group of investors who are looking to bringing racing back to that venerable 1.017 mile track. This sounds like a opportunity for IndyCar to try and get in on.
RM: I don’t see how to can write off COTA as processional, since IndyCar has yet to turn a lap. Don’t forget how good Mid-Ohio raced this year with these aero kits, and COTA looks like it’s got a couple nice passing zones. As for Laguna, I said it was an even trade for Sonoma because both are narrow with no straightaways and very little overtaking. Not sure who determines the race length, but I’ll ask IndyCar. Rockingham will need major upgrades to host an IndyCar race, and that’s only if the new owners are interested, which I rather doubt.
Q: Do you think the COTA deal is IndyCar showing the whining masses that like to run their mouths about F1 and its mega budgets what they can do on the same track for less than 10 cents on the dollar?
Haskell Barnett, Victoria TX
RM: No, I just think it appears to be a world-class road course that IndyCar deserves to get a chance at now that the silly Texas blockade has been lifted.
Q: After COTA was announced I became worried that lap time comparisons would start with the F1 cars. Apparently that will not occur because of a slight track layout difference for the IndyCars. My question is, how much more power can the Hondas and Chevys produce with these engines? I think I can count on one hand how many times an IndyCar engine has blown up this year.
RM: There seem to be conflicting reports about whether there’s going to be any changes to the track, but it really doesn’t matter. When Champ Car went to Montreal it was five or six seconds slower than F1, but nobody cared. The goal for these engines is 900 HP in by 2020.
Q: Just curious about the historically fastest cars and how that “power” translated to good racing – in other words, did it make it more fun to watch, and did the drivers like the power?
Trey Kiel, Austin, Texas
RM: Bobby Unser always asked John “Mandrake” Miller for more power when he drove for Dan Gurney, and the three-time Indy 500 winner says 1,200 HP was the most he ever saw. A of drivers loved all that boost, but there were lots and lots of engine failures and the races weren’t always that good.
Q: Please excuse my potential ignorance, but I was confused by Marshall’s article. He indicated that IndyCar squeezed 24 cars into the pitlane at Mid-Ohio. Are IndyCars that much bigger than the taxicabs that somehow run 40 cars at the same track? I would hate to see the series’ growth limited by available track space.
Erik in Green Bay
RM: No, I think he was just making a point that Mid-Ohio, in particular, has very short boxes and it’s tight quarters for pit stops when everyone piles in. But CART had 28 cars some seasons, and ran Mid-Ohio among other places that were challenging.
Q: It sounds like IndyCar has a potential issue about the field size potentially being limited by the number of pit stalls rather than the number of teams ready to race. Why aren’t teams limited to two cars? I know that a few years ago if Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti were limited to two cars the fields would have been a bit of a joke. I certainly don’t want to see anything done to curtail the number of entries, either.
However, the thought of a team championship is interesting. I guess Andretti would have two cars, then Herta would have two cars, Harding would have two cars and McLaren would have two cars instead of eight Andretti cars, if such a thing came to fruition. That might stunt some teams from running three cars though, and I’m not sure that’s great either unless those third cars don’t count for the team championship points. None of this solves the problems with the number of pit boxes. IndyCar could adopt what Supercars has done and use shared boxes. Double-stacking is definitely a penalty under yellow at a road course in V8SC, and it sounds like the ovals can accommodate a full field anyhow. If IndyCar wanted to, it could double-stack based on championship points when the number of stalls are limited. I think that’s better than limiting the field size.
RM: First, read the answer above yours. Secondly, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves about too many cars, restricting teams, points, etc. There could be 25 full-time cars in 2019 if everything falls right, and maybe 26-28 at certain races. And of course if you have a situation where a track could only accommodate X number of starters, then you send somebody home in qualifying (which is a terrible idea considering today’s struggles to get sponsors). But that happened back in 1998 at Nazareth (Andre Riberio in Roger Penske’s car got bumped) when only 26 cars could fit into the pits.