Q: Can we have your predictions for 2019? Who will win the Indy 500? The IndyCar championship? Will Felix Rosenqvist be this season’s Wickens? Will he win a race or two? Will Alonso do more races than Indy? Who will be the biggest surprise in 2019? Any other glimmers seen in your crystal ball?
RM: I’m picking Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay or Graham Rahal to win Indy, but I’d love to see Ed Carpenter in Victory Lane. I think Alex Rossi will take the championship. Felix will dazzle you and win a race. Don’t expect Alonso to do more than Indy, but sure would like to see him at Road America. I think Pato O’Ward is going to surprise a lot of folks in 2019.
Q: With support races abandoning the LBGP, any chance we will see the Indy Lights return, or does that circuit lend itself to a costly crash-fest? Or how about a Porsche Rennsport-like event, such as those at Laguna Seca?
Sean Raymond, Corona, CA
RM: No, I think as long as IMSA shares Long Beach along with the vintage races and Robby Gordon’s trucks, that’s more than enough entertainment. It’s non-stop action from 8 am until dark, so not really any room to add Lights or Pro Mazda or F2000.
Q: First of all, Happy New Year, and we’re so happy to have you back doing your old gig! I just listened to Marshall Pruett’s podcast with yourself and Leigh Diffey, and you briefly mentioned entries for next year in IndyCar. Where do we stand on that? You mentioned 26 St. Pete entries – how many are full time/part-time? You also mentioned maybe 40 Indy 500 entries, which sounds ambitious to me. Is that realistic?
Max Camposano, San Jose, CA
P.S. Any word on if Kyle Kaiser is going drive for Juncos in the 500 or any other races? I know he’s gonna drive their DPi at least once at Daytona and that he has no money to bring, but it’d be a crying shame for him not to drive anything in IndyCar, as he was the only one who did anything with those cars.
RM: I think right now there will be 23 full-timers at St. Pete and three part-timers, whereas Indianapolis will be a minimum of 37-38 with the possibility of 40 depending on a couple of deals coming together. And, yes, I think Kaiser will be driving for Ricardo Juncos at Indianapolis again – deservedly so.
Q: So Paul Tracy has been on Facebook all week posting workout photos and videos saying a big announcement is coming. He’s also posting quite a few photos of himself at the Indy 500 including photos of the 2002 Indy 500 as his motivation. Do you know what this big announcement is all about? Is the Thrill From West Hill going to make an attempt at the 2019 Indy 500? He can be a great “in-race reporter” for NBC!
John Baadilla, San Bernardino, CA
RM: I have no idea, but he’s been away almost a decade and doesn’t belong in an IndyCar, so hopefully it’s just PT being PT and stirring the pot. Maybe he’s driving the pace car.
Q: I picked up this shirt at a thrift shop. Could you tell me something/anything about the team it represented? I thought I read their Monavie sponsor was kind of strange… Anyway it’s the first and only piece of IndyCar apparel I have.
James, Helsinki, Finland
RM: That was a water company that sponsored Tomas Scheckter at Indy with Dennis Reinbold in 2010.
Q: While there were no on-track histrionics between the two, Peter Revson hinted on occasion that he felt Mark Donohue achieved part of his success, and beat Revson in particular, via “cheating.” While I can’t find my copy of the book to verify it, my recollection is that Revson said as much in his biography under the guise of “suspecting” Donohue of cheating, particularly early in their respective careers when they often raced against each other.
Revson came across to me as a bit envious of Donohue’s success and used the “cheating” angle to justify how Donohue often beat him early in their careers. I think Donohue, while being a team player and all, would have been somewhat resentful of Revson joining Penske. But maybe they had buried the hatchet by then. Michael Argetsinger also referred to Revson’s assertions regarding his opinions on Donohue’s supposed cheating in Argetsinger’s Donohue biography.
RM: I had Peter Manso’s book on Revson but can’t find it, and while I don’t recall too much bad-mouthing of Donohue, that was a long time ago so I appreciate your information. Can’t imagine The Captain pairing people who didn’t get along (excluding PT and Little Al), so maybe it was a professional co-existence.
Q: I saw the letter about Revson going to Penske IndyCar from Curt Fulp. Revson and Donohue were teammates at Penske driving TransAm Javelins during Trans-Am ‘sgreatest season in 1970. They ran against factory Fords for Parnelli Jones and Follmer, factory ‘Cudas for Gurney and Savage, a factory Challenger for Posey, and hush, hush factory Camaros for Jim Hall and Vic Elford and a Firebird for Jerry Titus. Donohue finished second to Parnelli’s Ford and Revson finished eighth. The next year most of the other factory teams left and Donohue’s Penske Javelin won the championship, while Revson’s AMC finished fourth.
Marv Gray, Willoughby, Ohio
RM: Thanks Marv, there has been a series of Trans-Am videos on Facebook lately, and you forget how many good races they staged and how many big names competed. My pal and author Rick Shaffer also pointed out that David Donohue did run some Indy Lights races so I’d forgotten that, but don’t think Indy was ever in the cards.
Q: I’ve recently seen a shot of the Gerhardt Plymouth. It ran – or tried to qualify unsuccessfully – at the Indy 500 way back in 1969. It is a striking design that wouldn’t look out of place now, almost half a century later! What can you tell us about this obviously innovative dud?
Larry River, Canada
RM: Actually, this photo is a revamped Lotus 56 with the Plymouth engine. It was a cool design, but the bodywork had to be modified and an Offy installed for Art Pollard that May, and he qualified along with teammate Carl Williams in a Gerhardt-Offy. Pollard would score Plymouth’s only win later that season at Dover after winning Milwaukee in the Gerhardt-Offy.