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. Click here if you’d like a printer-friendly single-page version of the Mailbag.
Q: First, let me congratulate Scott Dixon on winning a fifth IndyCar Championship. An awesome race car driver, and a great guy (or “bloke” as we say Down Under). I have known Scott since he came to Australia (although he was actually born in Australia) as a teenager, mentored by NZ legend and F5000 great Kenny Smith to race in our Formula Holden category in the late ‘90s, and he was a freckle faced kid and bit of a porker (a little chubby). In his Indy Lights winning season in 2000, we saw him begin to transform into the great athlete that we still see today, and he won that title against a very good field which included several drivers who already had success at good levels or went on to achieve. Today, he is the ultimate professional race car driver competing in the greatest racing series on the planet.
RM: Well said. He’s the consummate pro, on and off the track, whose many talents serve him well in IndyCar’s diverse platform. He’s also a first class person with a splendid sense of humor a lot of people don’t see, and a great ambassador for IndyCar. And he’s gone from that bashful kid in Lights to a good quote on any subject.
Q: First: you NBC guys do a great job on TV. Second: as much as I like F1, IndyCars are a helluva lot more interesting and entertaining. Most F1 races are over by Turn 2. What’s it gonna take to get more cars on the grid? There’s gotta be a way to steal some of that NASCAR sponsorship money. Third: hate to be a crank, and I admit that Dixon is a great talent, but I sometimes think TV could be called the Scott Dixon Hour. I bet that if you check the stats you’ll find an inordinate amount of time focusing on Dixon with interviews and on-track commentary at the expense of the other 20 guys out there. Too bad the season’s over.
Ed Lawrence, Bozeman, Montana
RM: I think IndyCar may have 24-25 full-timers next year so that’s encouraging, and how can we not help but praise the driver who now only trails A.J. Foyt in championships? Dixie may have gotten more airtime the past two races but he deserved it, and he was the main storyline along with Rossi. If anything, I think our producers try to feature as many drivers as possible on any given race weekend,
Q: I just watched the trailer for Born Racer featuring Scott Dixon. It looks to be very well done and that it could generate some new interest for the sport. Why are they releasing it October 2? The release date is weeks after the season finale, and months before the start of next season. It seems to be the worst possible release date. Thoughts?
Steve M, Danville, CA
RM: The fact IndyCar is off for six months makes me think that October is too early – hell, wait until Xmas time to try and keep people engaged. But Dixie winning his fifth title in a nice segue to his documentary a couple weeks later. And the premier is being shown here in Indy on Sept. 24.
Q: I have followed CART/IRL/IndyCar since the 70s, and as cool the 80s and 90s were, there has never been a deeper talent pool of drivers than the last five years. We have legitimate second- and third-generation racers, not cousins and nephews of legends. When there is a female driver, she can compete, like Legge (robbed of an open-wheel career).
Those scrapping for final seats are race winners, sometimes ex-champions. Turn 1 in each race is no longer a police wrecking yard after St. Patty’s Day. This, now, is gold! Now is the time to add HP and make the cars faster and more difficult to drive, because this batch of racers can handle it. The series is strong, healthy, even attracting top level F1 drivers, delusional NASCAR racers, and others. There are enough American drivers, Canadian drivers, South American drivers and others to make the “purists” and international fans happy that they are seeing top-notch talent. No-one goes into any race thinking: “this is x-drivers’ race to lose” – it is wide open.
From the darkness that was The Split, IndyCar has risen,stronger than ever! I have fond memories of open-wheel racing since the good ol’ days, but I have to check my heart at the door when I evaluate what we have here today.
Brett, People’s Republik of Kalifornia
RM: There is no denying the depth of talent and teams is probably at a 25-year high and, to your point, very seldom does a wanker slide into the lineup – especially on a regular basis. But let’s not to be too hasty, because there were times in the 1950s and 1960s that AAA and USAC fields sported champs from all over North America and with only 18 cars (except Indianapolis) comprising the starting grid, some great drivers were spectators some days if they drew a bad number in qualifying. The youth movement in IndyCar is impressive, along with the new owners who are racers to the core like Mike Shank, Trevor Carlin and Ricardo Juncos.