Robin Miller's Mailbag for February 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for February 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for February 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Image by Kinrade/LAT

Q: Alright Miller I need you to do what the boys at NBC are not doing. Why should I spend $50 on the IndyCar Pass with NBC Gold? I have to be honest with you: over the last few years I have not seen much in the IndyCar streaming world worth paying for. Looking at their website, I’m not exactly sure what I would even be getting? You know as soon as I order this, the wife is getting a new pair of shoes. Give me some hope that I’m not throwing away my money.

Short Track Rat

RM: I’m at the races so I don’t see the streaming feed, but NBC Gold is going to treat practice like it was on network with announcers, interviews and good quality and through the week you likely will have various features, profiles, interviews, history, etc. And you can afford $5 a month. If not, I’ll loan you $50.

Q: This isn’t a question as much as it is a plea for leniency for Harding Steinbrenner Racing. It’s admirable that they went the ‘we will get the sponsor and you just drive’ path. But, with the current general economic climate in racing, you can see that for a start up team it is probably asking too much. As per my letter a couple weeks back when I asked about Carlin in particular and if small teams in general look for sponsors or just take calls from funded drivers, I can accept that funded drivers are a good option for smaller teams. Heck, big teams, too. Look at the great story at Andretti with Zach Veach. I never had or ever will have an issue with a talented funded driver. I have long held the belief that if a driver has a sponsor, he can help control his destiny. Kimball is a great example. If Novo was Chipster’s it’s likely Charlie wouldn’t have made it past season No.2. Instead he’s had a decent career – deservedly so, I might add. He’s solid. The South Americans and Europeans have long been on top of this. It seems the Americans are now much hipper to this practice as well. Rahal is another American who seems to get it. Is there one moment you can pinpoint where the attitude shifted from derision to acceptance of the ‘if I want to drive, I better learn to get sponsored on my own’?

Eric Z, Lancaster, NY

RM: Like I said in my commentary, we were all cheering for Harding Steinbrenner because it was such a good story, but the reality is that it takes a lot of money to field an Indy car and Mike Harding has never had a sponsor, so how long can he exist? I mean his pavement business may be good, but nobody can run an IndyCar very long without a substantial sponsor (except for Gerald Forsythe after Player’s left). The attitude shifted in the ‘80s when hired drivers were being replaced by ride buyers with less talent.

Q: Just read, with disappointment, about Pato O’Ward splitting from Harding Steinbrenner. Sounds like a pretty raw deal this late in the game. Thoughts as to where he could end up? Would one of the bigger teams take on the added financial burden to run him a full season?

Bob from Wisconsin

RM: Talked to him Monday and he says he’s got nothing, but $1 million and maybe a little help from IndyCar should get him a half dozen rides. If I were Michael Andretti I’d snap him up and let him share the car with Conor Daly.

Q: I live in the DFW area and travel throughout Texas quite frequently. In driving around the DFW, San Antonio, and Houston metro areas over the last couple of weeks I have seen numerous billboards promoting the “Indycar Classic at COTA featuring Muse in Concert.” I’m very enthused and impressed seeing these marketing efforts and they seem to be pouring way more into promotion than “Mr. Promoter” Eddie Gossage does on the June race at TMS. Just a heads up from an open-wheel diehard in the Lone Star State.

Todd W.

RM: That’s excellent news Todd, and obviously IndyCar’s debut needs to be properly promoted and it sounds like that’s exactly what’s happening at COTA. Now if we can get them to sell paddock passes to everyone, things will be golden.

Q: Felix Rosenqvist laid down some burners at the Laguna Seca test. I am interested in watching his progress throughout 2019. I had thought Rosenqvist would never end up in IndyCar. He had competed in Indy Lights and had tested for Ganassi, but was always racing elsewhere such as Japan, DTM and Formula E. Ganassi was finally able to sign him after all these years of Lawrence Stroll (Lance’s father) saying to the Ganassi team: “You have to test [Rosenqvist!] He is the real deal!” It’s good to have Rosenqvist aboard and competing in IndyCar. How do you rate him compared to the other rookie of the year contenders?

Ken C., Thunder Bay, ON

RM: He was instantly impressive in Lights, but after his first test at Mid-Ohio in an Indy car the Ganassi boys raved about him. Stefan Johansson is his agent and been trying to get him into IndyCar, and finally did. I think he’ll win a race and be rookie of the year, especially in light of Pato’s situation.

Q: I reviewed the Indy commercial after getting an email by the IndyCar site. I struggled through watching the whole Super Bowl but, unless I missed it, I didn’t see it played here in Florida. If they only played it in the Midwest, they need to better understand their fan base. We are nationwide, hence races at Long Beach to St Pete. Also, don’t promote the road course! How about the traditions? Balloon release, three-abreast start, back home in Indiana and the military salute! Market to the people that count!

Skip Ranfone, Summerfield, FL

RM: The commercial was only shown in the Midwest, which makes no sense because Ohio, Illinois and Indiana don’t need to be reminded. It’s like taking out full-page ads in the Indianapolis Star that proclaim: ‘This is May.’ Yeah, we know, Indy doesn’t need to be promoted in Indianapolis. What a waste of money that could be spent on national advertising. I think the only people in Florida that saw the Indy 500 ad on Super Bowl Sunday were on DirecTV.