Q: My question today is directed to my fellow IndyCar fans. Why are some of you unhappy because Danica Patrick will be part of the NBC 500 team? Love her or hate her, Danica was the biggest buzz IndyCar has seen in recent years. Remember the cheer when she took the lead in the 500? IndyCar needs more fans, and if she creates some that’s OK with me.
Charlie Merz, Dallas, TX
RM: Danica is pretty polarizing and may have pissed off some people recently when she said that NASCAR drivers were more approachable than IndyCar drivers, but to your point, she still makes headlines and still gets people talking. And her Indy experiences give her a forum that you have to respect. I’ve always liked and defended her because she was a racer at Indy, Texas and Homestead where you have to have “big ovaries” (her phrase), and the racing world sat up and took notice.
Q: We have such good announcers in IndyCar! Diffey, Bell, Tracy etc. Did you hear them during the Pato O’Ward pass at COTA? They seem like they like it, like they want to be there, like they are on the edge of their seats; like Dale Jr. brings on NASCAR. Thank goodness we don’t have the stupid boogity boogity boogity.
Mark Lamontia, Landenberg, PA
RM: They’re all fans, first and foremost, so I think that realty comes out in the broadcast (same for Little E) and adds to the show. If P.T. is impressed with a move then it’s authentic, and T. Bell was a brave boy behind the wheel as well, so their enthusiasm is genuine.
Q: Just curious: Why were the drivers allowed to exceed the track limits at COTA in Turn 19?
Mike C.. San Francisco, CA
RM: Because there was pavement laid down there?
Q: Watched the NBC Gold package coverage throughout the weekend, and I thought the coverage and commentary was great. Watched the COTA race with friends – we didn’t know what to expect, but we are definitely sold. Do we do Texas Motor Speedway or COTA? We have been going to Elkhart Lake since they returned, and enjoy the camping aspect. We go to St. Louis because it’s close to Indy, but want a higher banked oval. We have reservations about TMS for on-track activity throughout the weekend, though. How is the camping at COTA? What race should we attend in the future? Can you pass along to those drivers that are complaining about Turn 19 and want to reevaluate the track limits for next year that some of the fans enjoyed it from an entertainment perspective? Happy to see Harding Racing succeed. Hopefully we will be able to watch Pato and Colton battle it out this year.
RM: Camping looked spacious at COTA but my idea of roughing it is a Holiday Express without a bar (and I don’t drink), so I’m not a good judge of the outdoors. Because of COTA’s wide-open spaces, including Turn 19, it was one of the most entertaining road races ever staged in my opinion and I cannot understand the people moaning about exceeding the boundaries. What boundaries? It’s paved, so race on it.
Q: Not a criticism at all but, in the IndyCar, NASCAR and F1 races I watch, especially on the permanent road courses, I always see the cars – especially in corners – go outside the white lines and well beyond the curbing. A lot of the tracks have large paved areas in the corners beyond the curbing and white line, and I always thought this was for safety. But now it seems to be used for racing. Why is this allowed? Wouldn’t the racing be improved if the cars had to stay slow down and brake more heading into a corner in order to stay between the curbing and/or white lines? Or why not change the track to fit the racing line in these corners?
Steve, Chico, CA
RM: Can’t speak for NASCAR or F1, but IndyCar using all the track at COTA made for a great race and allowed all kinds of different lines to be taken – entering and exiting the corners. I get that the Alex Zanardi move at the Corkscrew would no longer be allowed but having a fast, wide road course like COTA invited great racing, and that’s what we got. How could we improve on that? Not by tightening the layout.
Q: First thing, I have to compliment NBC on their coverage so far this season. I especially like having the running order on the left side of the screen, excellent improvement. This makes it is so easy to quickly glance over to see where the driver you are interested in stands in the field. Camera coverage also is great. I noticed at COTA the name of the driver was on the pavement at their pit, also nice for the viewer. Now I have a question about the race last weekend. I think Race Control was looking at the move Dixon made on I think it was Rahal (I could be wrong), but I didn’t hear the outcome of that. Also, was Race Control looking at Hinchliffe when he touched Rosenqvist near the pit entrance?
Steve Kaiser, Anthem, AZ
RM: Dixie rubbed wheels with Veach (a lap down) and no action was taken. Ditto for the Hinch-Felix scrum, it wasn’t nefarious – just looked like the Mayor got launched by a curb.
Q: Great show at COTA; loved seeing another Herta win again. I was a fan of Bryan’s ever since he drove for A.J., so it just naturally carries over to his son. I remember back in the day of IndyCar’s peak, Dan Gurney offered a challenge to F1 for a head-to-head race. This was back during the time when budgets were probably much more comparable. IndyCar had turbocharged 900 to 1000 hp engines at the time.
Was this back when USAC was still in charge, and wasn’t there the suggestion of like $1 million prize? Also, were the budgets comparable back then?
RM: Dan offered to run his 1972 Eagle against any F1 car in a match race, but there were no takers. There was the Questor GP at Ontario in 1971 that pitted F1 and Formula 5000 cars (won by Mario in a Ferrari) and dominated by F1 cars. The only other race I can think of was CART’s Hawaiian Super Prix, a pipe dream that offered $5 million to win and never turned a wheel in 1999. Budgets were a few hundred thousand dollars in the early ‘70s, but Indy cars had more power and F1 cars supposedly more grip, although DSG felt AAR’s pride and joy was equal if not better as aerodynamics came into play.