Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 12, presented by Honda Racing /HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 12, presented by Honda Racing /HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 12, presented by Honda Racing /HPD

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Are NASCAR’s days at the Brickyard numbered? Image by Kinrade/LAT

Q: When the TV money is renegotiated and there’s not as much of it on the next go, what are the chances IMS moves on from NASCAR? It will never recover to 50 percent of what it was. Bring back the apron, put in lights, run the road course, make ‘em run the other direction, move it to September… nothing. The racing is a hard sell, and the IMS team does everything right to bring the crowd but it’s just not there. Send the support series back to IRP ASAP, and have the Cup guys join them after some new grandstands are built. It’ll help them with their recent identity crisis and the disconnect from the local short track fans. I respect the decision to bring NASCAR to Indy in ’94, but the time for another major decision is upon them.

Matt, Marshall, MO

RM: That’s a really good question, Matt. Right now, IMS is one of five tracks that reportedly receives $15 million from NASCAR for hosting one of its big races, and it gets a couple more million for the Xfinity show. So attendance really has no bearing on the bottom line, but it will when the TV money train hits the brakes. It was absolutely a smart business move by Tony George back in the ‘90s, and the Brickyard took over IMS for almost a decade as “the” race in terms of ticket demand and attendance. But you must have listened to the podcast with Kelly Crandall and myself on RACER.com, because I said bring back the apron, NASCAR needs to help pay for lights and put the Xfinity race back at IRP (or Lucas Oil Raceway). It’s not a slam dunk that NASCAR continues after 2020, but I imagine there will be some discounts offered.

Q: What are your thoughts on Furniture Row Racing’s decision to shut down? What does it say for the state of sponsors if the defending champ can’t get his full season sponsored in NASCAR? Do you see sponsorship issues stunting IndyCar’s positive momentum?

Damon Brist, Fort Myers, FL

RM: I don’t know the inside story, but it sounds like the owner [ED: Barney Visser] got tired of spending his own money, and I believe he had some health issues as well. It just says that if Roger Penske had to pay for a couple cars when he fielded four then sponsorship is very tough to find nowadays – and retain. I think there are sponsorship issues in every form of motorsports, but that won’t necessarily hurt IndyCar’s momentum.

Q: I’ve got a question about A.J. Allmendinger. How can someone who goes like hell on a road course and also kicks ass in a Prototype at Daytona qualify 25-27th week in and week out on NASCAR ovals? The announcers are all over him at The Glen or Road America, and then never mention him going from 26th to 24th to 28th to 21st? Sometimes after a race he seems barely able to answer a question. Any thoughts?

William Parker

RM: He’s a road racer by trade who was going to be a star in IndyCar but sadly opted for NASCAR, and obviously the money or potential to earn was what changed is career path. He’s not with the best team, and ovals in 3,500-pound cars have proved difficult for IndyCar drivers (except A.J., Mario, Parnelli and Gurney) to get a handle on, although JPM should have won the Brickyard.

Q: I grew up at all the various drag strips and race tracks in the Southern California area since the early ‘70s and still regularly attend pretty much all forms of motor sports. Something I’ve recently noticed that’s changed since those early days at the track and even on TV – a straightforward old school message to fans to support your sponsors.  It might not seem like that big of a deal, but in my opinion, it’s a very important message that needs to be more clearly and directly stated to all race fans.

It’s sort of implied these days, but way back when, track announcers and event those in the broadcast booth didn’t hesitate to say it out loud. As a kid how many times did I hear while exiting an event – “Folks, thanks for coming out, drive home safely and please support your sponsors”.  You’d oftentimes even hear a variant of that message throughout the event. We all know sponsors are the lifeblood of all motor racing, and getting them on board these days is probably as hard as it’s ever been. Sponsors need to know there’s value in them supporting a team, event, series, or whatever, and reminding the fans to support them doesn’t cost a penny. Just sayin’…

Spike, Santa Barbara, CA

RM: It’s good if there are sponsors that fans can support identifiable sponsors like DHL, Verizon, ABC Supply, Fuzzy’s Vodka, Pennzoil, Menard’s and Lucas Oil, but there’s not as many as the old days of Budweiser, Kmart, Texaco, Miller, KOOL, Marlboro, Target and Valvoline.

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