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 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.
Q: I’m a regular reader of the Mailbag and have been reading your work since I was a kid, so I wanted to start by saying thank you for the work you do in covering the sport. I was looking on the NBC Sports website and I noticed that the only race that will be on NBC is the 500 and the rest will be on NBCSN. While I preferred NBC’s coverage to ABC’s and I like that it is already promoting the 500 (I saw a commercial during the NFL playoffs), doesn’t it hurt the sport a little to have fewer races on network TV, especially in the lead up to the 500?
KC, Raleigh, NC
RM: Not sure how that information got posted, but it’s incorrect because there will be eight IndyCar races on NBC in 2019 – the Indy GP, the Indianapolis 500, the Detroit doubleheader, Road America, Mid-Ohio, Portland and Laguna Seca.
Q: During the Bears/Eagles game there was a commercial for the Indy 500. Was that a local or national commercial?
RM: Judging by all the happy fans I’ve heard from in the past 24 hours, I’d say it was a national commercial.
Q: Robin; hope your recovery is coming along well. IndyCar and the Indy 500 needs you. I know you have been saying all along what a bang-up job of telecasting the Indy 500 that NBC will do, and today I really believe. On the pro football game NBC is televising, it just had a commercial for the 2019 Indy 500. That’s what we need. As always, I am looking forward to another month of May. This will be my 72nd Indy 500 in a row, and I still look forward to it every year.
RM: NBC excels at big events and promoting them (look how the Triple Crown has grown under NBC), and I’ve seen another Indy promo that will be aired soon that’s even better than the one we watched Sunday night. Your loyalty is great, and 72 in a row could be a new track record.
Q: Anything new on the title sponsor front? I saw the same rumor in a few different places today that NTT Data will most likely be the new IndyCar title sponsor. Also, I saw the NBC promos for the Indy 500 during playoff football. Two more months to go! Ugh!
Rob Peterson, Rochester, NY
RM: The official title sponsor announcement will be Jan. 15 and all I’ve heard is that it’s an Asian company. But NTT Data certainly got a ton of exposure in that NBC promo last Sunday night, and a lot of people are assuming that’s the new sponsor.
Q: Can you estimate what percentage of current IndyCar drivers pay for their rides (also if you can speculate for F1 and NASCAR)? Over the decades, have these percentages simply undulated with the economy, or has there been a long-term trend in one direction?
RM: Looking at the 2018 full-time lineup in IndyCar, of the 21 full-timers there were six drivers buying their rides and another eight brought money to run part-time. At Indy, 16 of the 33 starters came with a sponsor. I don’t know about F1 but probably half the field easily, while NASCAR is beginning to get ride-buyers in both divisions, and that’s really going to increase when the TV deal gets re-negotiated. Ride-buying at Indy started in the 1970s but at a very small percentage, and then got more and more prevalent in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Q: OK, this is the year. Tuesday, May 21, 2019, I am setting out across the Lincoln Highway from California with my eyes on Indy. Where should I sit? Due to back pain, I am using a wheelchair. I am not worried about parking, I just need to know where the best seats (or a row where I can roll to with my friend) are with wheelchair and elevator access?
Eric Ione, CA
RM: Please call the IMS ticket office (800-822-INDY and explain your situation and tell them you need parking and see what kind of tickets are available. Safe travels, and enjoy.
Q: You have lots of Mailbag readers that always ask for seating advice. If you ever have one that is traveling a long way or is deserving of a fantastic view, this year I only need two of my four in Southeast Vista Deck. For a fan it will be strictly face value, and I won’t screw them because I’ll be sitting right next to them. Feel free to tell them to text me: 517-803-3592. These two seats would be a thrill for a first -imer! Again, Happy New Year! Hope to see you in May!
Matt From Lansing
RM: Thanks Matt. I can assure people that your seats are the best in the house if you want to see action and three of the four corners. I had four Vista Deck tickets for years and never heard a complaint from the folks who used them. Matter of fact, they still call every year and wonder if I have access to any Vista Deck and I tell them, sorry, they’re always taken.