Q: Has IndyCar just been handed Homestead as a possible finale location thanks to NASCAR shuffling its schedule?
RM: IndyCar talked about spring training at Homestead and a possible return to race there, but it all went quiet and I’ve never heard another word. But it was always a tough draw down there for IndyCar except when Marlboro, Honda and Toyota gave away tickets.
Q: As I recall, Ryan turned down RP when he signed his last contract with Michael, saying he was loyal to Michael for giving him a chance when others would not. Am I correct? Most cannot resist going to RP, like most recently, Josef. Cannot blame him for looking for what he thinks is best for him, but lose one percent and be toast like Simon [will be] soon. Think Carpenter will take him back and offer Josef the money left on the table to go with R.P.? No. I think Ryan did right for both he and Michael. I like reading your words.
RM: I don’t think Josef has any job security worries, and Pagenaud just needs a win to calm everyone down. RHR did turn RP down, but I’d say it’s worked out just fine.
Q: Longtime IndyCar fan and dedicated reader of the Mailbag here. Just got back the other day from COTA and looking forward to the rest of the season. Every week someone mentions Cleveland and when is it coming back; honestly I am shocked how much people actually want something to be in Ohio. I’ve attended the race and I fully agree that it needs to be back on the calendar. Seems like there is more than enough fan support.
Judging by the growing crowd size at Mid-Ohio each year, I think it would be a hit, especially since Cleveland is a hell of a lot better city and place to visit than it was back then. You say it all comes down to a title sponsor willing to pony up the cash. So what’s the amount? Maybe if Mailbaggers knew what it would take, they could start spreading the word to those with the means. Seems like there are a lot of Ohio-based readers on here, and there has to be more than one company interested with the way IndyCar is growing and the interaction its receiving.
Eric, North Canton, OH
RM: I don’t have a number, but at least $750,000 and probably more when you talk about bringing in bleachers, walls, closing down Burke Lakefront for a weekend and security. It looked like Sherman/Williams might step up and bring the Cleveland race back a few years ago, but then they took their money to IMS. I have no doubt it could come back and be a success, but it takes a dedicated promoter, help from the city and a big-time title sponsor.
Q: So since it appears Sir Patrick and Frank are getting the band back together at Williams. Should we give Little Al a call and tell him they’re ready for his tryout now?
Brad Haskin, Seattle, WA
RM: No, he was not a Patrick Head fan, and why would anyone with his experience be? Plus he enjoys working with Harding Racing, Brian Barnhart and being Colton Herta’s coach.
Q: Why the heck do these NASCAR drivers wear their sunglasses during interviews? Gil always removed them during an interview, Dixon makes it a point to remove them. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Someone needs to clue them in. What do you think? I hate to waste another therapy session on this topic!
RM: Good Lord I have no clue, except maybe they get paid extra.
Q: I am looking forward to NBC’s coverage of the Indy 500. I know you guys will do a great job. Over the years you have gotten a lot of complaints about ABC’s TV coverage of the Indy 500, but I figure the people writing you must not be old enough to remember when there was no TV coverage! Back in the day (the ’60s), the only way I could enjoy the race was listen to Sid Collins’ radio broadcasts, then scour all the newspapers the next day hoping to see pictures of the race. One year I paid $10 (a small fortune to a 10-year-old) to watch the race live at a movie theater. Picture wasn’t very clear and the signal kept going black, but it was better than nothing.
Then ABC started showing a recap of the race on Wide World of Sports the Saturday after the race. That was great, maybe you saw 30 minutes of the actual race, mixed in with wrist wrestling from Petaluma, but of course I wanted more! Then it happened: ABC started showing the race, tape-delayed, in prime time. I remember praying that my VCR would record the entire race while I worked my night job. Qualifying shows, Uncle Bobby and Sam, my head is spinning when I think about! Then came ESPN with all weekend qualifying shows and a live broadcast of the entire race on ABC! I was in heaven. A lot has changed since I was a kid, but one thing hasn’t. My love of racing and especially the Indy 500. So to all of you guys that complain about ABC’s “terrible” coverage over the years, I say to you: If it wasn’t for ABC and their Wide World of Sports show getting the ball started, you wouldn’t have the racing coverage we have today, and to Ryan in West Michigan (and other like him), put the tomatoes on a bacon burger and enjoy!
Michael, Las Vegas, NV
RM: I started using the phrase Always Bad Coverage in the IRL days mostly so I’m guilty, but when ABC had Jim McKay and Jackie Stewart it was big-time. Uncle Bobby, Sam and Paul Page were entertaining as hell before ABC told Bobby to quit correcting Posey and moved him into Turn 2. Then ABC started going through the motions and it really showed (Todd Harris and Rusty Wallace,) and NBC has already done more promoting for the Indy 500 and IndyCar series in two months than ABC did in 10 years. So I give ABC credit for putting Indy on the national TV map and keeping it there, but not doing more than the minimum for the past 25 years.