Q: Longtime reader of your work, Robin; and it’s great to see you still as opinionated as ever. There was an article this week on a Colorado Public Radio website about a couple of guys looking to bring IndyCar to the streets of Denver. Now, I don’t remember the past CART and Champ Car trips to Denver and it’s still in the very early stages of discussions; but I’m curious about your memories of the past Denver races and whether you think Mark Miles and IMS would be interested in such a race. Thanks, and keep up the great work.
Mike, Aurora, CO
RM: There have been two locations and the last one around the arena had a decent layout, so that’s the one they’re looking at. Not sure if IndyCar is interested, the crowds were decent as I recall and there was one spacious corner that made things interesting. Just not sure Denver is very high on IndyCar’s list.
Q: Here is the way-too-early schedule question! What are the chances of a new oval being on the 2020 schedule? I keep holding out hope for a return to Richmond. Also, I read locally that the new owner of Rockingham Speedway (NC) has secured funding to revamp and upgrade the track and return to racing. I know he has his eyes set on NASCAR, but he has said all options are being looked at. While 2020 will be too soon, do you think IndyCar would consider it?
Mike in Knightdale, NC
RM: I think Richmond still has a fighting chance for 2020, but never heard Rockingham mentioned. Obviously IndyCar would listen to any proposals.
Q: Really enjoy your work. I had a thought: with NASCAR giving up the Daytona July race, why doesn’t IndyCar or IMSA do something during that weekend there? I don’t think the road course is too dangerous for IndyCars (or maybe just a couple safety measures away from being okay to race). Even IMSA can do a sprint race there, like it does at Long Beach. Obviously won’t be the same as NASCAR, but I don’t see a reason for the Daytona July tradition to end. Also, a concern. With this new IndyCar TV deal in Canada, I’m wondering what you see for the future of IndyCar here in Toronto and Canada?
Joe, Toronto, ON
RM: I don’t think IndyCar would draw 5,000 on a July 4 road race at Daytona (it never worked at The Glen) and Cleveland was the only place that date ever worked for CART. IMSA has one race at Daytona, that’s enough. Again, why would Daytona drop a traditional race to go with sports cars or IndyCars? It wouldn’t. Every year it seems like they tear up more of the Toronto track so that’s my concern, but I think Montreal might be back in play by 2021.
Q: Surely IMS has to hate the new July 4 weekend date for the 400 starting in 2020. All that work to sell NASCAR on a September date to move out of the heat, and this is what they get in return? I know the spin is all about celebrating another great holiday at the Speedway, but I can’t see that working at all five weeks after the “real” race weekend, and again, in searing heat. I don’t see the Brickyard ever moving off NASCAR’s schedule, but it sure seems like that sanctioning body isn’t willing to really make it viable.
John D., Indianapolis
RM: IMS is going to do whatever NASCAR wants them to as long as the check for $15 million clears. But I wouldn’t be so sure about the future. The Speedway can make money with a paltry crowd right now, but why would it want to host NASCAR in front of 30,000 (providing it’s not 95 degrees) to lose money? I’m not sure either side wants to continue after the contract is up, but NASCAR would be smart to explore running the road course (Xfinity series is testing it in June) at Indianapolis because it would be 10 times the show of the oval.
Q: Will there be a NASCAR-IndyCar double-header in 2020? What former tracks are returning?
RM: There is interest from NBC and IndyCar in a doubleheader, not sure about NASCAR though. The only former track that might return next year could be Richmond.
Q: Whatever happened to the IRL (Tony George’s) concept of “heroes of the short track?”
RM: It worked the first few years because Tony Stewart, Steve Kinser, Jack Hewitt, Billy Boat and Donnie Beechler all had rides and it was all ovals. But along came engine leases, road courses, Penske, Ganassi, etc. and as AJ says: “it became CART Lite.”
Q: If I won the Powerball and came to you with $5 million dollars, said pick races that drivers compete in and overall top guy gets the bucks, what races would you pick?
Greg Williams, Apache Junction, AZ
RM: I’d field a four-car team at Indy with Kyle Larson, Chris Bell, Bobby Santos and Kody Swanson.
Q: Great race at Barber and great coverage on NBCSN! I watched up to the yellow live, then had to pause for a few hours and play back the rest later to watch Taku win. I was wondering if the IndyCar app folks have thought about a way of playing back the live timing and scoring later? Not sure how you would sync it up, but would be nice to be able to use it even if not watching live as it really enhancing figuring out what is going. (In fact, would be nice to even just to be able to sync it to the live broadcast, as there’s enough of a delay on the TV that live timing is always well… live… running ahead of the broadcast.) Also, wanted to point out to your readers and maybe the IMS museum folks that a big album of 1970s Indy 500 photos is going up for auction at a New York gallery… (ignore them calling it the Indiana 500, the photos look pretty cool).
Good season so far. Flying to Long Beach this weekend, Indy next month, and planning to go to my “home” race in Pocono in August for the fifth year in a row. Good time to be a fan.
Patrick from Brooklyn
RM: I have no idea, but I sent your request to IndyCar. Thanks for the tip on photos.