Q: As a former resident of International Tower (the big round building) in Long Beach, we always enjoyed watching the big IndyCar haulers pulling out after the crowds had gone. It was easy picking out the new teams because a few of them would manage to high center making their way onto Shoreline from the paddock. It seems that they were always in a hurry to get moving. My question is, do they haul everything back to Indy and then on to the next race, or do they just head for the next venue?
Paul I, Mint Hill, NC
RM: If it was back-to-back like Phoenix and Long Beach last year, obviously they’d stay out west between races, and sometimes if there’s a test they’ll go from Road America to Iowa, but mostly it’s back to the shop after the race.
Q: It used to be that one could purchase a t-shirt with an exciting graphic image of an IndyCar speeding off or canted in one direction or another. Sometimes you’d have the driver’s image or some product logo prominently displayed, and a huge car number with sweet graphics. Look no further than a local dirt track event (or GutsWear trailer at IndyCar events) and you’ll see many examples of exactly what I’m talking about. Other than the occasional event shirt on offer, I am regularly disappointed when I go to races that these types of items are no longer available.
Is it because of transient sponsorships, or do they somehow sell more of the plain-jane variety of shirts and sweatshirts nowadays? There’s a time and place for a classy, solid color shirt with a little RHR logo on it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m tired of having to squeeze my belly into 10-15 year old t-shirts that are exciting to look at and really let other people know who you are rooting for. (Besides, Oriol Servia hasn’t driven the Newman-Haas Telemundo car for quite some time, and my favorite shirt is starting to really fade). Your thoughts are always appreciated.
Tim Howell, York, PA
RM: IndyCar has a trailer at every track that carries most of the drivers, but there are a few other options. Team Penske has a merchandise trailer at a number of races (St. Pete, COTA, Indy GP, Indy 500 and Detroit. Road America, Portland and Laguna Seca are potential for 2019) and there is also an online store at http://store.teampenske.com/. The Andretti team has swag at ShopAndretti.com and its 2019 gear is coming soon. You can go to shop.ims.com/indycar/drivers/James Hinchcliffe or www.tomotorsports.com to get the Mayor’s shirts and hats.
Q: Does IMS museum have a NASCAR and Formula 1 wing? Never been there, but it looks like they are opening one. Such a long list of classy individuals that grew the sport that are not included. Sad.
RM: Yep and I am greatly opposed to it, because NASCAR and F1 had nothing to do with Indy’s heritage or success. I know the IMS Museum needs money and this is a way to create interest in the annual HOF banquet, but Indy drivers, mechanics and owners are the only ones that belong in the IMS HOF.
Q: What’s the latest on the use of the windscreen? Will we see it in IndyCar this year? Also, what about the idea of using sheets of a similar clear material and affixing them to the inside of the fencing on ovals? This would provide a smooth surface so if a car gets above the wall it can’t dig into the fence and get violently spun around like Robert Wickens at Pocono.
RM: Not this year, it’s still being tested and evaluated. Plexiglas was looked at by Randy Bernard, but it’s got some issues in addition to being very expensive.
Q: Front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive seem to have fallen in and out of favor over the years at the Indy 500, but now are banned. I assume it was USAC that banned them, then CART, IRL, IndyCar just followed. When, and why, did USAC ban them?
Kevin Kovach, Allen Park, MI
RM: At the end of the 1969 season USAC banned four-wheel drive after crippling the turbine engine with its rulebook. USAC banned it because it had no leadership, direction or clue. Then it took the dirt cars out of the Championship Trail, ran off Marlboro as the title sponsor, and banned rear-engine sprinters to cut the path to Indy for midget and sprint car drivers forever.
Q: There has been a lot of positive momentum in the IndyCar series over the last year. With that being said, out of curiosity, has Gerald Forsythe given any indication that he may be willing to return to the series as a team owner or, at a minimum, have one of his Indeck companies serve as a car sponsor?
James Jackson, Livonia, MI
RM: Nope. I use to call Gerry every year and ask if he was coming back, but he never got over Champ Car folding and merging with the Indy Racing League. I explained that open-wheel racing lost and nobody won but he didn’t feel that way. It’s a shame because he spent a lot of his own money and ran a first-class operation.
Q: A question this week that referenced The Great Schism prompts me to ask, have you ever gotten any indication that Tony George came to regret his decisions that resulted in The Split? There is never any going back and absolutely no satisfaction for anyone in saying, “I told you so.” But I am curious. If I recall the television and the at-track attendance figures for IndyCar and NASCAR in the mid-1990s, IndyCar had the lead.
RM: CART and NASCAR were neck-and-neck in attendance, sponsorship and TV ratings in the early ‘90s (especially in 1993-94 with Mansell), so The Split couldn’t have come at a worse time. But I did a radio show with T.G. a few years ago and we politely disagreed on several things, but he never said he regretted starting the IRL. He was mad at engine leases and car owners and expenses so he pulled the trigger.