Q: Had forgotten about Tristan Vautier until I saw him racing in the 24 Hours of Daytona. He did give Dale C.’s IndyCar a few good rides. Any idea if he is looking to return? I assume it all comes down to money and sponsorship.
RM: He never wanted to leave, but it’s all about your last line. He did a helluva job at Indy and Texas for Coyne in 2017.
Q: I’m responding to a comment you made in the Mailbag on the 23rd. You said that all cars should start the Indy 500 because a lot of traditions are already long gone. How about this for an idea? Have every car start the race but only the top 33 take the green flag, while the remaining cars start from their pit boxes. (Which would effectively start them a lap down.) That way, a ‘traditional’ field of 33 takes the green while Bump Day still remains important and we can avoid situations like what Hinch found himself in. Keep up the good work, Robin, and I’m glad your health is coming around, along with Marshall’s wife’s.
Curt Nelson, Seattle
RM: No, what I said is that if there are only 34 or 35 cars then start them all. If there are 40 entries like there might be in May, then bumping is fine. But I don’t think we need any gimmicks. And thanks for the kind thoughts. Marshall’s wife is doing fine.
Q: I, along with my brother and uncle, have gone to the Detroit Grand Prix for the past two years, and were quite excited that a deal was made for the race to continue for the next three-five years. But from what I’ve read regarding the future of the Grand Prix, it would appear that this contract will end up being the last one for this race. With Belle Isle not being in play and the streets of Detroit having a less than zero percent chance of coming back, I know you’re sick of this question, but there even the slightest possibility of MIS returning to the schedule not next year, but in 2021 or later? As far as NASCAR goes, everyone has seemed to circle 2021 as a year of wide-scale changes, and Michigan seems to be a spot that could be downgraded to one race weekend a year. If that were to be the case, shouldn’t IndyCar be a consideration as a replacement for the weekend that NASCAR eliminates?
M.S from Michigan
RM: I would imagine if Belle Isle goes away when General Motors might entertain the idea of going to MIS, and it would take a major player like that to get MIS interested again.
Q: I went to the 2016 and 2017 IndyCar events at WG and would love to go back to the track, but don’t think I’d go to the Six Hour event on its own without it being paired with an IndyCar race. I live in New York City and go to the Indy 500 and Pocono every year, so not adverse to traveling to see a race, but IMSA doesn’t cut it to make a trip.
Patrick from Brooklyn
RM: Thanks for your loyalty and honesty. I guess I see open-wheel and sports cars as the same fan base, so that’s why I think a twin bill would work at The Glen. And I think Michael Printup would make it affordable.
Q: In your last posting you opined that Pocono could be on the bubble for IndyCar. In light of the poor attendance in past years, it seems that little is done for fan enhancement, namely support races, etc. Would this be your opinion also? So happy for your recovering health. You are a godsend for the sport.
Michael Baley, Mount Joy, PA
RM: I think that’s the major drawback for most ovals (except Gateway) because people want to be entertained from the time they get to the track. Pocono has great ticket discounts and packages, and it had its best crowd yet last year, but it’s still a tough sell. Thanks for your kind words.
Q: In your response to Garrett from Reno, you had said about the dwindling attendance at Pocono and Iowa being a potential sustainability for the promoters. These are two great tracks that it would be a shame for IndyCar to lose. Has there ever been a grass-roots promotion considered for some of the major dirt tracks? Pennsylvania does, after all, have Williams Grove and Lernerville, which both have strong attendance. Would IndyCar ever consider doing a promotion night at tracks like these to help with promoting the Pocono race? There could be appearances by some of the more popular drivers and/or tickets could be sold at a slight discount, as well as a few raffled away just to try and draw some interest.
Alan Bandi, Sarver, PA
RM: I think Jay Frye is looking into doing something at Knoxville, The Grove and a few other short tracks to help promote those races and create some interest, because both states have a ton of open-wheel fans. I know Marco went to a sprint race a couple nights before Pocono a few years ago, but that’s too late. IndyCar has to be out in front of it by at least a month and give away hats, shirts and have drivers signing autographs. Plus your discount ticket idea.
Q: I enjoyed it when you used to co-host Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain. Thought you two made a great team. Were you ever offered a chance to permanently co-host with Dave, and if so, why did you turn it down? Also, do you consider Dave a friend and still keep in contact with him? I know he was a motorcycle enthusiast, but was he passionate about all forms of racing.
Steve, St. Louis, MO
RM: Thanks Steve, those were some of the most fun nights of my life and Dave was so generous to me. He was going to retire and called to say he’d recommended me to take his place and then FOX folded SPEED, so that was that. I try to talk to Dave once a month, and I consider him a dear friend that I wish was still on television.
Q: Over the years you have written so many touching articles about IndyCar drivers, mechanics, owners, etc, why not put together a complication of those articles? The earnings could replace the money from your 401K that you lost gambling. I would love to read those articles again, and I am sure that many others would, also.
Bruce from Pittsboro, IN
RM: That would be my preference Bruce, but unfortunately, all those columns, features and race reports are property of the Indianapolis Star, owned by Gannett, and we’re not big fans of each other. They won’t even let any of today’s Star writers quote me in any stories, so I doubt they’d be real accommodating about letting me do a book of my columns. But I appreciate your suggestion. I did have New England for $150, so now I’m only down $486,873.34 for my career.