Q: A few years ago you lamented that IndyCar didn’t have enough car owners. How do you feel now with more owners in the paddock?
RM: Pleasantly surprised, would be my answer. It wasn’t long ago we had three owners (Andretti, Ganassi, Penske) fielding more than half the field, but now we’ve got Trevor Carlin, Mike Harding, George Michael Steinbrenner, Mike Shank and Ricardo Juncos with Brian Belardi in the wings. And they’re all guys that seem intent on sticking around.
Q: Great racing at COTA! Good to see youth prevail. I hope this is not a fluke for Herta and his team. Also, enjoyed the broadcast. Glad ABC is finally gone. Going to Barber for the weekend. What is the racing like there? Is it as good as COTA?
RM: Considering it was a track built for motorcycles, Barber has been a very pleasant surprise for IndyCar. The racing has been damn good (Pagenaud and Rahal in 2016 was as good as it gets) but it’s going to be tough to ever have a road course with more action than COTA.
Q: Having a U.S. driver was never a priority for Haas F1. Well… I would say this: That is twice that Gene and Guenther lost out to bring one. Alexander Rossi, and now Colton Herta. And by looking at Colton’s track record, four straight years he finished in the top three in every ladder series (third in British Formula 4 in 2015, third in the Euro Formula in 2016, third in Indy Lights in 2017, and second in Lights in 2018). I recall when Bryan tested out a Minardi back 16 years ago, and not even a backmarker would take him. Before making his transition to Indy Lights, did Haas F1 ever thought about bringing Colton into their development program and send him to what is now FIA Formula 3?
JLS, Chicago, IL
RM: To be honest I doubt if Haas even knew Herta existed, and the bottom line is that F1 doesn’t want or need an American driver. And we can ask Rossi, but why would anyone want to leave a competitive environment where you can win races and make decent money to go to F1 where you might get lucky and drive a car that could finish 10th on a good day?
Q: Hey RM, glad to see you looking so healthy. Not necessarily good, but healthy. Am I just a crusty old fart, or did anyone else find it a little strange to hear Colton Herta refer to the mechanics as the “boys”? Speaking of boys, Colton drove one hell of a race! Also, I wish you would hurry up and write that book, I ain’t getting any younger either!
Kendall Brumbaugh, Elkins, WV
RM: It was funny to hear an 18-year-old say that, but it seems to be the new term for your pit crew. I never look good but I do feel good, thanks. If I write a book, based on the past few weeks of letters, it may be called: “Bitch, Bitch, Bitch.”
Q: Just wanted to take a minute to say how much I loved your interview with Bryan Herta following Colton’s win. What a humble dude who seemed to deflect any credit that you or others were trying to give him and give it to others. I know that he and his wife obviously provided some financial assistance, support and insight into the sport, but didn’t roll out the red carpet like some of the families I am sure you have seen over the years. I just feel that in a time where parents are living through their kids and doing everything for them, it was so great to listen to Bryan and see how the idea that he deserved the credit for Colton made him visibly uncomfortable. Believe me, I am quite jaded when it comes to these ride buyers and the parents that are paying for their kids to race even though there are more talented drivers out there that can’t buy their way in. Maybe I’m being too naive regarding Bryan’s role and involvement, but in my mind it feels right.
Josh R., Salem, OR
RM: There are no finer people than Janette and Bryan Herta, and they are the least pushy parents (at any level) that I know who are proud of their son but yet stay in the background. They gave him opportunities, for sure, but let him fend for himself in Europe and that really helped his maturation. Colton has that same respectful, humble personality of his father, which will serve him well during the next two decades.