Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 26, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 26, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 26, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Image by Abbott/LAT

Q: So another championship is decided at Sonoma Snoozefest Raceway. I believe RHR lead from flag-to-flag. Dixon kept station in second place because he didn’t need to race to win. Yawn. It is obvious to me that the team owners are just like our politicians. They don’t care what the fans want. The owners want to finish in hoity-toity California so they can sip wine, snack on caviar and hob nob with the wealthy. We, the fans, have other ideas. Ovals are IndyCar’s heritage. The final championship deciding race should be on an oval (Gateway) and on a Saturday night! Not late Sunday afternoon, with a delayed start due to an overly long, wreck-filled NASCAR race, and coverage switching from NBCSN to CNBC and back to NBCSN. Pathetic!

Jerry, Houston

RM: Jay Frye wanted to end the season on an oval and I supported him 1,000 percent, but the owners can’t see the big picture. Make Laguna the next-to-last race and they can still wine and dine their sponsors, but then IndyCar can end the season on an oval (Gateway) with a good crowd, good atmosphere and good chance to see some racing. But it would have to be on Sunday afternoon, not Saturday night, to be on NBC and Gateway was game to give it a try.

Q: Even a team owner who wants to wine and dine corporate clients can’t be so blind as to see that the finale was a yawner from start to finish? I’ve driven an open-wheel car at Sonoma and it is a great track,y but without a passing zone forget about it for an IndyCar race, much less the finale. Laguna alas, seems likely to be much the same. The point: why destroy all the goodwill you created throughout the season with great racing by ending it with a much-hyped but destined to be worst race of the year? I’m OK with the double points, it adds to the drama, but at least give us a track they can race on. Any new viewer to IndyCar watching last Sunday will not bother to tune in again…

Justin, Park City, Utah

RM: Laguna and Sonoma are interchangeable in terms of what to expect, and you can expect the same old boring race we saw two weeks ago. I think I attended four consecutive races at Laguna where there were either no passes for the lead, or the pole-sitter led every lap. Or both. And FYI, as we were arguing about where to end the season, one team owner told me: “Miller it’s not the quantity of fans that counts, it’s the quality.” How do you argue with something that asinine?

Q: Now that the series has ended with another last-race title decider, it is time to consider what would make the series even more appealing other than the great racing and unpredictability (the antithesis of F1). I won’t harp on double-points or ending the series at a road course with poor passing opportunities, but instead want to talk about expanding the series into another race in Canada, into Mexico and outside of North America. The car counts are up significantly, and costs seem to be somewhat in control, notwithstanding lack of a title sponsor for IndyCar. A single Canadian race does not make the series international.

Just a perusal of scant European coverage of IndyCar due to Alonso shows that the series is considered ‘American’ in the eyes of the world. Well, it used to be international with two successful Canadian races, and races in Mexico, Japan, Brazil, and Australia. I won’t delve into the European experiment in Champ Car, which didn’t seem successful, but in light of the huge turnout I witnessed in Portland after an 11 year hiatus, I wonder if success could be found returning to prior tracks in Mexico (where O’Ward would bring them in), as well as Australia and Brazil?  Surely there are Super Formula tracks in Japan that would be suitable, and I really believe a race in Calgary would do well and hope Ric Peterson pursues it. It is time to build on momentum and take the series truly international again.

Trevor Bohay, Kamloops, BC

RM: I asked Pato midway through the season if he was a big enough deal to carry a race in Mexico City, and he said: “Not yet.” Well he may be now after only one IndyCar race, and that would be one of the places IndyCar needs to look at. A New Zealand/Australian doubleheader would seem like a slam dunk with Dixie and Power on top of their game. And another race in Canada (maybe Montreal by 2020) would be a winner as well. But 20 would be the perfect number.

Q: Will IndyCar ever return to Watkins Glen, and why was it dropped? A track loved by the drivers, and large attendance.

Ron Scott

RM: If we could talk some sense into IMSA to let IndyCar share the weekend with the 6-hour race (have IndyCar run on Saturday), because NBC will already be there covering sports cars. It was dropped because IndyCar rented the track and lost money, and it’s only going to work with a suitable date. But there has never been a big crowd to watch CART, IRL or IndyCar, while NASCAR packs them in.

Q: I’m excited by the announcement that IndyCar will race at COTA. I have never been there, but from what I read and hear it is a great venue. I attended F1 races at Indy, and although the excitement did not compare to the 500, the pricing was reasonable. I had interest in attending F1 races at COTA, but that was stopped by the pricing. There must be many well heeled individuals traveling the world to attend F1 races. I believe it is important for IndyCar to succeed at COTA, but to do so their management must forget about F1 prices. What do you think?

Charlie Merz, Dallas

RM: I think COTA needs to make the IndyCar race very affordable, and you know it will be fan-friendly compared to F1 because anyone can buy a pit/paddock pass. People are worried there won’t be much of a turnout, but as good as the cars raced on road courses this season, I would hope people give it a chance.