Q: I agree with your oft-made statement that the 500 purse should be increased dramatically – $1 million to start, $10 million to win and the balance distributed based on finishing position, pole position, fastest lap, etc. So we are probably talking about a $50 million purse. Can IMS afford that? I know it’s a privately-held corporation, so its books are not open to public scrutiny, but do you have any insight on the cost to maintain and improve the facility for a whole year? I imagine taking care of such a huge place costs quite a bit of money. But if it were possible to generate such a sizable purse, I think we’d be back to 50-60 entries.
Peter, Gainesville, Va
RM: I have no idea what IMS grosses for May but it’s substantial, and obviously some of that money goes back into maintaining the track. But as long as Hulman & Company fund the Leader’s Circle, I can’t see any of the purses increasing. Plain and simple, IMS needs to find a title sponsor for the Indy 500 and put all that money into the purse. It will never be $50 million – that’s a pipe dream – but I’d be happy to see it get to $25 million and pay at least $500,000 to start.
Q: Has there been any discussion about getting more helmet cameras on the drivers this year? Gives such an excellent sense of speed! Feel like it could really add some excitement to the broadcasts if there were more drivers with them.
Craig Stermer, Chesterfield, MI
RM: I believe NBC has lots of good things in the works for 2019, and maybe we’ll have helmet cams during practice. But you are correct – they add the dimension of speed.
Q: Just wanted to drop a note to your readers. On Saturday, June 22, the IndyCar weekend at Road America, the World of Outlaws will be at Beaver Dam Raceway, which is only a 60-minute drive from Road America. Thought that this would be a great opportunity for folks to make it a racing weekend. Nothing better than IndyCars on Road America and sprinters on the dirt all in one weekend!
Dirt Track David
RM: Thanks for that info, David, I remember Beaver Dam being a tacky little joint in the 1970s, so I imagine WoO puts on a good show.
Q: Where do you place the odds on IndyCar returning to Australia and Japan? It sounds promising, but should fans get their hopes up? Even during the CART heydays, I recall neither Penske nor Ganassi liked those flyaway races, because they felt that the events had no relevance to their sponsors. I imagine Chip is more amenable now that his sponsor checks are signed by Japanese companies (NTT and Honda), but what about RP? Do their opinions or influence carry the same weight in the paddock as back then, and might work against those races coming back?
RM: If NTT says it wants a race in Japan, it will get one regardless of what The Captain or anyone else thinks. I’d say Australia is 60/40, but the key to any foreign event is can it put money in the team’s pockets? And enough to make the trip worthwhile? That remains to be seen, but I don’t think the owners would bitch if they each made $200,000.
Q: What is the problem with IndyCar? Look, I think Mark Miles and crew have made a lot of good decisions lately. I’m still kind of perplexed as to why they think a February date anywhere – let alone on the other side of the world – does them any good. October is wide freaking open and needs to have two or three races. February? Super Bowl. The Daytona 500. Can you say, no-one cares if IndyCar starts their season in Australia? February belongs to Daytona and Speedweeks. Pair it up with the Supercars that already have an extremely successful date in October. Then come back to the West Coast and finish at, preferably, Fontana. Short of that flight of fantasy, move Laguna to October. Win.
Eric Z, Lancaster, NY
RM: Like I said in the previous answer, any foreign event must have the ability to make decent money for the teams or there is no sense in going. And I think running with Supercars makes the most sense, which is October. Do you run it as an exhibition after the season finale? Because the season needs to end in the USA, and it won’t be in October.
Q: My name is Lucas and I’m from Mar del Plata, Argentina. Some media down here in Argentina have been reporting that IndyCar and Ricardo Juncos are both in talks with local authorities to bring an IndyCar race down here for 2020. First it was said the race was being planned for the Buenos Aires racetrack, and some weeks ago, another wave of rumors came saying they the talks shifted towards the brand new Vilicum racetrack located in the San Juan province. Do you happen to know anything about the possibility of having a race down here, or is it just “fake news” by the Argentinean media?
RM: I know Ricardo was investigating the possibility but haven’t heard much lately, so I’ll ask him when he returns from the COTA test.