Q: So I’ve gone ahead and purchased some tickets for the Detroit IndyCar double-header weekend. Got to say I am massively looking forward to going to my first U.S. open wheel championship race since CART went to Rockingham, UK in 2002. What part of the circuit do you recommend I go and watch from, and any other recommendations to things to do in both at and away from the track? Also; what are your views on Ben Hanley’s chances this season?
Jamie, Reading, UK
RM: I haven’t walked around Belle Isle in a long time, but Grandstands 1 & 2 let you see the first sweeping corners as well as the pits, but the best action takes place in Turn 3 – just not sure about seats for the latter. Downtown Detroit has lots of great restaurants and a few casinos. Don’t know anything about Mr. Hanley, but a 34-year-old rookie from sports cars joining a start-up IndyCar team will be tough sledding.
Q: I grew up in the Indianapolis area back in the ’60s, where my initial memory of the Speedway was listening (with my grandfather) to Sid Collins call Roger Ward’s 1962 race victory. One of my unfulfilled bucket list items has been to spend the month of May working as a gofer with one of the teams at IMS. While I vaguely recall a column from long ago in the newspaper where you mentioned that Mr. Foyt in his own unique way once told you he didn’t need any “free” help, I was wondering what approach you would recommend in an attempt to get this item completed?
Don, Cisco, IL
RM: I would come to Indy and go to the shops of Ganassi, Andretti, SPM, Foyt, Rahal, Carpenter, Harding and Clauson-Marshall and offer your services. It would be easier at a race track, but I figure there’s nothing close until the Indy GP. The last two I mentioned might be your best bet because they don’t have big teams and would welcome free help. You could also write letters, but not sure they’d get opened or answered.
Q: Bob Pockrass from FOX said Kyle Busch had a deal to run in the Indy 500, but Joe Gibbs nixed the plan. Any idea what team that was with and what year? Also he said that Kyle’s contract should allow him to run the 500 as soon as next year. What are your thoughts on this, and what team do you see being a good fit?
James, Columbus, Ohio
RM: I heard that rumor but never knew which team, and I guess it was 2016. I asked Kyle back in 2011 about running Indy, and he was all for it but said Joe wouldn’t consider it until he won a championship. I see he just re-upped with Gibbs last week so maybe he’s got the green light, and I’d love to see him run here. But he’s a Toyota guy so not sure a Honda team would be in play.
Q: How much of a BA is Robbie Wickens? Watching his recovery and his hijinks with Hinch via Twitter have been fantastic. Second, where was it written that IndyCar fans have to hate NASCAR? Good lord, the outright spite that most fans have for the tin-roofers borders on F1 levels of arrogance. I’m a fan of any type of loud noise go-fast action, and I can’t claim allegiance to one series over another. Claiming that NASCAR’s “best drivers in the world” couldn’t manage racing at Daytona? Sorry that the best racers America has to offer are chasing the money and going south. And to imply that the drivers aren’t qualified because they have the “big one” implies they forgot what happened last time we had pack racing at Vegas. But everyone will fawn over Junior at Indy. OK, rant over. Question for you: why do different series choose different layouts at the same track? I feel like IndyCar would put on a better show if they ran the NASCAR layout at Sonoma and (fingers crossed) at a return to Watkins Glen. Otherwise, bring back more ovals!
Desmond, Oak Lawn, IL
RM: Robert is amazing, and stood up last week to hug his fiancée after riding a stationary bike. I think IndyCar fans get mad when they hear FOX call it the “great American race” or the “greatest race of the year” or they get jealous when they read nine million people watched Demolition Derby. But I think most IndyCar fans respect the ability of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and some of the other front-runners. IndyCar always opted for the shorter last turn at Sonoma because of the speeds and lack of runoff. But IndyCar ran the big course at The Glen, as it should. Gotta find ovals that can support an IndyCar race, and that’s not easy.
Q: I was a die-hard NASCAR fan growing up. I was also a die-hard open-wheel fan growing up. If you stand back and look at each objectively, I see diverging trends. IndyCar realized they were going in the wrong direction and changed the aero package to produce better racing. It still needs work for the super speedways, but overall has been successful. NASCAR has too many tracks over one mile in length, and they doubled down on the their high-downforce aero package. It’s just my opinion, but if you have to increase cost by adding even more gimmicks to your aero package, then your original aero spec is way, way off. NASCAR needs to go back to the drawing board. Get their nose way off the ground, go back to smaller tracks, and let the cars be hard to drive. The best teams and talent will reign.
John Balestrieri, Milwaukee
RM: No doubt there are way too many mile-and-a-half tracks in NASCAR, and its legacy was made on short tracks like Bristol or places like Darlington. I think they need more road courses because it’s their best shows.
Q: I’m very excited for the new season, hoping to make a few races other than just the 500 this year now that I’m retired. Gateway, and Mid-Ohio are at the top of the list. Is it possible to park in an SUV for the weekend at Mid-Ohio for a reasonable price? Have sleeping bag, will travel! Finally, I want to add my vote to all of those trying to get you to write a book about your experiences over the years. I don’t read that much anymore, but that would be a surefire advance order for me. I just spent a week in the hospital myself due to gallstones. I wish you continued good health, and am looking forward to the coming season. Should be a great May!
RM: A reserved motorhome space is $375, any other motorhome spot is $275 and it’s $210 to pitch a tent for all three days. All come with two GA tickets.