Robin Miller's Mailbag for December 5, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for December 5, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for December 5, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Even without a full-time ride, J.R. Hildebrand has no problem keeping busy. Image by LePage/LAT

Q: It is now off-season. We hear little about the prospects of drivers such as Conor Daly, Oriol Servia and J.R. Hildebrand. They all might pop up in ‘Indy only’ rides, but what do they live on when they’re doing only one race a year?

Anthony Jenkins, Canada

RM: Servia has a restaurant in L.A., while Conor is busy trying to put an IndyCar deal together and get ready for the Chili Bowl. JR gets paid to drive at Indy so that’s good, he’s doing some consulting work, doing some lecturing at Stanford University and he’s a contributing editor at Road & Track. Oh yeah, and he’s working right now on his ride for May. But unlike the old days when 40 percent of your Indy 500 winnings could keep a driver going all year, today’s paltry purse doesn’t even pay expenses.

Q: With all the fuss and anger about the W Series, it seems pretty easy to gloss over the fact that two of the drivers are young sprint car and midget champions in Courtney Crone and Toni Breidinger. Would you think that this is yet another case in which IndyCar is missing out on good, home-grown, grass-roots open-wheel talent (that is now going to be displayed and under a microscope on the European stage), or has the short-track-to-Indy ship has officially sailed?

Michael in Brownsburg

RM: If nobody in IndyCar was interested in Kyle Larson or Christopher Bell or Kody Swanson, then they have no clue about these two young ladies. And, yes, that ship has sailed until they have a few million dollars, and then they can play. Don’t forget, IndyCar didn’t try to keep Danica or Simona, and they both had talent and followings.

Q: IndyCar needs more races, and a season going into fall. Not deep into fall, but around mid-to-late October. It needs a race in Mexico, Australia and a second in Canada. I know it’s probably not possible, but one in Detroit would suffice if schedule became too crowded. Back to The Glen, for sure. Indy road course on Labor Day weekend. Make schedule geographically less travel/less expensive. The guy saying other sports’ seasons are too long…he’s 100% right. Any chance of Texas Motor Speedway and C.O.T.A. having a duel ticket? One ticket, two tear-offs, and a somewhat reduced price compared to an individual ticket. Upper midwest is the hotbed for Indy racing. Here in Texas could be second. We’re ripe for that. You, John and Wickie get well. All we fans love you guys.

Ft. Worth Dan

RM: I think Mexico City and Australia could be in play by 2020, and hopefully Richmond as well, but not sure we’ll ever run past mid-September. The Glen might work sharing the card with IMSA, but I don’t ever see IMS road course as a stand-alone as the season finale. Nobody cares. And I like your Texas two-step idea, but don’t think it would ever fly with Eddie Gossage. And, yes, there was a time when Texas drew the second and third largest crowds for the IRL. Thanks for the kind words.

Q: I am going to be in Indianapolis from qualifying to the race. I am going to the “Week of Indy” USAC races and the Little 500. I was looking, but could not find, races to see during the qualifying weekend. Do you have any recommendations? Will they have a midget race at IMS during that weekend?

Jonathan Meckley

RM: USAC schedules should be released tomorrow at PRI, but no midget race at IMS in May to my knowledge. Just check on Friday and the schedules should be up.

Q: The information you shared regarding Conor receiving a two-ride deal from the Byrds was welcome. I am happy he realized that he needs the experience of racing this month in Illinois to help build his dirt skills in preparation for the relentless racing at the Chili Bowl. I do wish Conor well, and am grateful for the Byrd’s support of this young man.

Deb Schaeffer

RM: I think it’s great, and Conor will make new fans regardless of how he does, because he’s stepping outside his environment. I think Rossi would be perfect on the dirt – he loved Baja, and seems to be up for any challenge. That’s what we need. And Byrd is a godsend for USACers with an eye on Indianapolis.

Q: James Hinchcliff and Jordan Taylor replace Conan O’Brian and Andy Richter. James hosts and Jordan fills Andy’s role. That’s easy. But which car do Andy and Conan pretend to drive before putting their stunt doubles Ben Collins and Tommy Kendall in the driver’s seats?

Ryan in West Michigan

RM: I would get Ken Hamilton’s homemade Indy car from 1980.

Q: The somewhat politically correct Robin Miller has occasionally waxed poetic on the role that dirt tracks have played in the inception and growth of IndyCar. It is (strongly) suggested that IMS Productions fire up their media trucks, send them to the Chili Bowl, and persuade A.J. Foyt, Sarah Fisher, Robin Miller etc to join in with some historical color commentary. Robin periodically mentions how local dirt tracks contributed to the growth of IndyCar. It would be nice if Conor Daly could also be featured there, along with the also/sometimes politically incorrect A.J. (now, that’s “color”!). Maybe also include the growth and loss of Bryan Clauson, in the process?

Conor has been working his butt off to support IndyCar, and it appears that his family relationship to the IMS and IndyCar (step-father Doug Boles) may be causing him to not be covered as well as some other upcoming IndyCar drivers/racers? I see where there’s Chili Bowl Coverage on MAVTV. Who knows, you (we?) might even get NBC to support the coverage on one of their channels (with the IndyCar color commentary that I am proposing). That would be good for bringing in a few more new IndyCar Fans. What say you?

Constructively submitted,

Bill in CA

RM: Love to do some announcing with Super Tex, but MAVTV already has a good cast if announcers that covers Chili Bowl every year – my goal is to try and get NBC to do the IMS midget race live next year. Conor is a good ambassador, and I think he gets good media (it’s tough when you only have four races), and he’s busting his butt to put together a deal for 2019. The dirt tracks and racers of the ‘50s and ‘60s were the road to Indy, but those days are long gone.