Q: With Fernando Alonso sampling many different forms of race cars recently, I think the time is right during the month of May to suggest that he try a dirt midget. His WEC ride with the factory Toyota team has recently provided the corporate connection for him to sample a Dakar rally truck. It would seem a Toyota-powered Keith Kunz midget test at the IMS dirt oval for Fernando would provide a nice promotional event for all parties involved. Could be a nice made for TV segment for NBCSN in the build-up to the midget race at the Speedway prior to the Brickyard 400. Make it happen, Robin!
Michael Mueller, Waukesha, WI
RM: I’m sure Fred would be up for it, but don’t think the track will be operating (they’re parking cars in that location) so maybe we can just take him to Bloomington or Paragon.
Q: One possible explanation for the increase in U.S. viewership of F1: Netflix’s F1 series: Drive to Survive. It was very good and it renewed my interest in F1 – for the time being. Although IndyCar is and will always be king in my world!
RM: I’ve heard rave reviews about that show and it likely did help some, but a race run at 11 a.m. always generates better ratings than the ones at 2 a.m.
Q: Born and raised in Indianapolis, cut school to see Jim Clark and Indy Lotus/Ford’s first Indy test on a frigid early spring morning in Stand E, and read your writing in the Indianapolis Star. Raced Formula Fords for 20 years, so I’m no newbie to being racy. I disagree with supporting exceeding the track limits at COTA, or anywhere. COTA’s track limits were designed to ensure adequate runoff prior to encountering barriers. Allowing the drivers to exceed the track limits exposed the drivers to unfavorable and dangerous barrier angulation and proximity, which we saw, plus a dangerous pit entry, which we saw. And if exceeding the track limits is such a great ”real racing” idea, why not allow them to straight-line the Esses from T3 through T6? It’s paved, too. Exceeding track limits at Barber Motorsports Park brings immediate negative consequences, as Zack Veach and others discovered. Paved runoff allows them to stay in the game, often with minimal damage, but that is not a reason to turn the runoff areas into a new racing line.
Bob, Orcas Island, WA
RM: I’ll respectfully disagree, Bob. COTA is like no other road course I’ve seen, and all that space is inviting for different lines and lots of side-by-side stuff and, as we saw, a kick-ass road course race with lots of passing. And there were only a couple corners that really came into play in terms of “boundaries”, and I’m glad IndyCar opted to let everyone race. If they would have called penalties for exceeding the supposed track definition, the race would have been a parade of cars going through the pits at 50 mph serving their penance.
Q: So many complaints about the yellow flag/pits closed episode at COTA. Power whined like he usually does when things don’t go his way! They were looking good for a win, but last time I checked, you have to finish a race in order to win it. The yellow flag had no bearing as to his outcome because his car broke and would have done so no matter when they stopped. Frustrating for him for sure, but I think if anyone got shafted it was Rossi (simply bad timing/strategy). Both of them could have simply just pitted when the window opened and all this talk would be a non-issue. That being said, I thought that was one of the best road races I’ve seen in a few years. Hopefully, COTA will be a permanent venue on the IndyCar schedule for years to come.
Dwight Anderson, Sacramento, CA
RM: Yeah, Will took the smart approach and bad-mouthed the closed pits instead of his boss for not bringing him in earlier. But he’s always championed leaving the pits open.
Q: Long-time reader, first-time writer. Had an idea and wanted your opinion about it. I just read Marshall Pruett’s article on the TV ratings of F1 vs IndyCar. Probably quite a lot of F1 and IndyCar fans cross over. But I’m obviously concerned about the ones that don’t. What if IndyCar said, with proof of purchase of course, any American F1 fan who bought tickets to COTA F1 race in the last couple years could get equal complimentary tickets to their local IndyCar race? Who would this help? The crossover fans, or just have IndyCar lose their ass?
Jeremy in Indianapolis
RM: I like the sound of a 2-for-1 ticket or discount, but F1 draws a big crowd at big prices so not sure how COTA could make it work. And so many of the fans are from all over the country that I’m not sure how many would venture back to Austin for an IndyCar race even with a deal. And IndyCar wouldn’t lose its ass, COTA is the promoter.
Q: After reading your article on the Hoosier Hundred], I’m curious about the National Championship back in the day. Pick 1964 when the roadsters were still king. How many races made up the National Championship? On which tracks? How many different cars did one team run? O,r did the typical driver race for different teams at different tracks? Also curious if the roadsters ran at tracks other than Indy?
Kevin Kovach, Allen Park, MI
RM: In 1964 there were 13 races and A.J. Foyt won 10 of them (including the first seven in a row) as USAC ran Trenton three times, Phoenix and Milwaukee twice and Indy with single dirt shows at DuQuoin, Langhorne, Sacramento, Springfield and the Indiana State Fairgrounds. They ran roadsters and rear-engine cars on the pavement along with dirt cars at both disciplines.