Q: I have no idea how much the entry fee is for a race, or even if it varies per event – could you explain how that system is set up? I also have a crazy idea that goes along with entry fees: the cars that fail to qualify for Indy have their entry fee waved for Pocono. The idea would be that the cars being sent home from Indy will show up at Pocono so there can be more than just 24 cars running around a 2.5-mile course. Would this be just a drop in the bucket or could it actually help?
Bill in Lockport, IL
RM: We’re only talking a couple cars and those are likely going to be Indy-only entries, so they wouldn’t even go to Pocono. And that entry fee is only $2,500.
Q: Just looked over the full list of who’s going to be on the NBC broadcast of the 500, and holy crap. The lineup is so packed and so talented (well, except for that one Robin Miller guy, who knows why they keep putting him on TV?) that I almost wish I wasn’t going to the race so that I could watch what’s surely going to be an amazing broadcast. I’m in no way bashing the decision, but what’s the rationale for Dale Jr joining? Trying to attract NASCAR fans, or just big name recognition?
Whatever the reason, I love it. NBC had the ball put on the tee for them when ABC lost coverage of the 500, and they have truly knocked it out of the park. I’m 19, and thus I’m supposed to be a cynical millennial who finds some way to complain about everything, but not since I watched my first F1 race 13 years ago have I been this excited about a race, and racing as a whole. IndyCar has had a great start to the season, and I can only see NBC adding value to the sport. F1 has had a genuinely exciting start to the season for once, and Liberty seems to be starting to move them in the right direction. Even Formula E is legitimately exciting and different, though I think it’s got a few too many gimmicks.
Though the audience isn’t huge, the racing fans around my age are as dedicated as anyone (I go to friends’ dorms to watch races almost every weekend), so the audience isn’t going to disappear in the next few years like many people fear. Point is, I like where racing is at overall, I like the way it’s being presented to us (though I’m sure plenty of Canadian, South American, and Australian IndyCar fans will disagree), and I like the people they’re having present it. Do you think growth like this is sustainable for the long term? Obviously NASCAR is having a bit of a downward trend, but other than that everything seems to be going well. Do you think that this will continue for a while, or do you see it slowing down or even reversing in the next few years? Whatever the case, great to see it all going well right now! Just thought after all these weeks of bitching in the Mailbag you could use some genuine optimism.
Max Camposano, Bethlehem, PA
RM: Dale’s popularity is obviously a big factor, but he watches races like a real fan and that comes across in his commentary. Hell, if Mario doesn’t drive the pace car I hope they let Junior, and mike him up so he can talk to our booth. But NBC pulls out all the stops on major events, and that’s why it’s all hands on deck for Indy. F1 had a nice audience at Bahrain because it was an 11 am start with no competition, and usually IndyCar on NBCSN and F1 on ESPN2 have similar numbers. They pale in comparison to NASCAR, so that’s the challenge for both – try to gain viewers. NASCAR has actually helped IndyCar on NBCSN, but when we say growth, it’s very incremental at the moment. But with eight IndyCar races on NBC, I think an increase is a forgone conclusion.
Q: I bought the Gold Pass the day it came out, but I’ve held off commenting until now. There’s no doubt this is the best IndyCar coverage ever. And I’m about your age, Robin. I saw all the 500s that were shown on closed-circuit in the ‘60s & ‘70s, and have seen every TV broadcast since the first one on ABC. Before they were shown live, I would listen to the radio broadcast then catch the tape delay that evening. But on a scale from 1 to 10, I can only give NBC a 5. Why? Because I have no access to NBC Sports Network, (which is why I bought the Gold Pass), and have not been able to watch one race live, yet.
I’m not sure what it would hurt to have the races on Gold (as well as NBC Sports) all of the time like qualifying and some of the other shows. I had to have my race at Barber start four hours later than those who could watch it live. And I’m a “paying customer.” I have no option to watch live, and I thought all the races would be shown live on Gold. I was hoping that the first two races may have been a hiccup, but now I guess not. I can still watch the NBC over-the-air races but not NBC Sports. I guess I’ll have to go back to listening to the radio broadcasts and tune in hours later to get what I thought I was paying for. Is their any hope of this changing so those of us who are paying can see the races live?
Jim Patton, Lindale, Texas
RM: The Gold package was for the die-hards like you but NBC wants and needs people to watch the races live on television – not streaming. Maybe some day that could change, but not in the immediate future. I’m sorry you couldn’t watch the first three live but at least the re-air comes on Gold pretty quick.
Q: Just finished laughing at your your frenetic “commercial break” reporting on NBC Gold. It was gold and I love it. My question is: how does water help you catch your breath?
RM: Good question, did I say that? I was talking too fast trying to jam everything into two minutes. But I did need water after that. Thanks for watching.