Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 17, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 17, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 17, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Pretty sure whoever writes in about Cleveland is just trolling us at this point, so this time we’re not even going to show you a picture of the track. Image by Grady/LAT

Q: Do you think there was too much damage done to return to NOLA? The weather sucked, but I thought it was a cool track. Better yet, what about Cleveland? My first race was Mario’s win in ’88. Miss my best sunburn of the year, too. Last question. The big ovals like California and Michigan, or even Kentucky and Chicago… are those days just gone?

Stephen Hicks

RM: Not sure why IndyCar would want to go back there. Nobody cared, and the track is impossible to find. Chicago or Kentucky could get another chance, but not the other three.

Q: Seeing that an Acura-liveried Honda car was at the Long Beach GP, I wonder if GM would consider doing the same and rebranding some of the Chevy cars as Cadillac or Buick? It would give the impression of more manufacturers partaking in the series. The reality is that fans wouldn’t care much to see a rebranded Chevy as something else. Red Bull Racing runs Honda-powered cars in F1 with both Honda and Aston Martin advertising on the livery and no one seems to mind it. I assume that each GM brand operates as an individual business unit with individual advertising budgets, but ultimately, I think both GM and IndyCar would benefit from this. As a long-time motorsports fan, I would not mind it at all. IndyCar has a great product with great racing at each event. Just ask Marcus if he did this much overtaking in F1 or had a fair chance to a win each race?

Ernesto J Ortiz, South Florida

RM: I can’t speak for GM, but it has different way of approaching things than Honda, and powering Team Penske seems like all it needs in terms of exposure.

Q: If the purpose of push-to-pass is to create more passing opportunities, then isn’t it counterproductive for teams to see when other teams are using it to try and overtake them? TV reported that they were telling Rahal when Hunter-Reay was on the button so he could defend. That just seems to defeat the purpose.

Chris, Florida

RM: Good question. A few years ago teams weren’t able to see when each other’s PTP was engaged, so I have no idea why it’s available now.

Q: After reading the comments about Dale Jr. being in the booth for the Indy 500, I just have to say I think he will be great. I think his enthusiasm will bring back to the booth something that has been missing since Jackie Stewart left. I have been a fan of both Indy/Champ Car and NASCAR for well over 50 years, and IndyCar fans just need to give him a chance. There is not going to be any boogity, boogity, boogity nonsense with him. I think he understands history, tradition, success and hurt, and what it means to a driver to win the Indianapolis 500. Imagine his first time in the booth at Indy and Marco comes to the finish line first. Any chance he gets to take a few laps in an IndyCar on the track or even in the back of the two-seater?

Howard M.

RM: He’s been excellent on NBC’s NASCAR coverage, and I expect the same here because he’s a great guy with passion for racing that appreciates Indy’s heritage. But he won’t be in the booth, he’s with Mike Tirico and Danica. I would have him drive the pace car if Mario doesn’t, and I think Penske may have offered him a few laps in an IndyCar but not sure where that stands.

Q: First, NBC Gold it’s definitely worth its weight in gold. Only drawback is there isn’t any content between the race weekends. Since there seems to be a call to bring back Wind Tunnel, how about some thought to add a mini-Wind Tunnel-type feature between the races, focused on IndyCar, to help fill in the gap? I’m sure those of us who subscribe would be interested, even if it cost a few dollars more to add a bit more content.

Regarding racing in Japan, I’m not sure I buy what Miles has said about not finding a suitable date. Looking at this year’s schedule, we have a four-week gap between Long Beach and the Indy GP. And a couple of three week gaps later in the season.

In previous years Barber was after Long Beach, but if it stays where it is, who is going to fill that four-week void? As I recall, Motegi was run in April before, so climate shouldn’t be an issue. I get that it’s expensive and you need backing, but there seem to be holes in the schedule to accommodate. Is his thought to put something back-to-back together? If you can’t get Australia going, where else would you go in Asia? And Australia isn’t exactly close to Japan either, so logistics of flying from the US or Japan would be pretty close to the same.

As for the rant, I think you can expand the title of your book to read “Bitch, Bitch, Bitch: A Day in the Life of the Insufferable IndyCar Fan.” It’s clear that NBC is bringing its A+ team to this year’s 500, yet the commentary is that Tirico doesn’t know racing, what’s he doing there…Dale Jr is a NASCAR shill and NBC is doing what ABC did (ala Rusty Wallace)… Danica doesn’t belong because I don’t like her, etc. OK, let’s bring back Cheever and Goodyear as studio hosts for their expertise! No thanks, I would prefer to stay awake.

I’m hoping the complainers will realize that Mike Tirico is an excellent studio host and much better than that windbag Costas was. Just watch the Derby in a couple weeks. Dale Jr. will bring a level of enthusiasm to the broadcast. Like her or not, Danica is still a very recognizable figure and brings the IndyCar credibility too. Then of course, the weekly rants we all get to read about ‘pits need to be open under yellow, NBC Gold is gouging us, why can’t we bring back Michigan and Milwaukee’, etc. Geez…

Ron S., Chicago

RM: We’re working on some weekly stuff for Gold. NTT would like to have one or maybe two races in Japan or the Fast East, so stayed tuned. Australia remains a possibility. Can’t disagree with any of your NBC assessments; Tirico is terrific be it golf, horse racing, or hockey, and you’ll think he’s covered 20 Indy 500s when he’s done. Junior is going to be a big plus, and DP will no doubt have some opinions to stir things up, plus she was pretty damn good at Indy.

Q: I always thought Dick Simon would become a big-time car owner after he retired from racing. What is he up to these days?

Bill, Nashville, TN

RM: Well, as you probably remember, he was a car owner for most of his IndyCar career and I think he would have been an awesome marketing director for IndyCar because that man knew how to sell and close the deal. I believe Richard is still selling boats in Southern California.

Q: First the civilian Corvette pace car driver in Detroit [that was a hard hit!], and now the sweeper tractor driver at Barber. I say that both have “spilled blood” as part of official on-track action related to an IndyCar race. The drivers need to come up with some sort of little trophy that can be presented first when the series returns to Detroit this year, and next year when they return to Barber. Both these incidents were shared extensively over social media and ended up attracting attention to the series. Both triggered activation of the Holmatro/AMR safety team. Not doubt they share tremendous embarrassment, so I think it would be a good idea to make light of this and give them some sort of ceremonial remembrance. What say?

Paul, Carmel, CA

RM: Actually it’s a cruel but yet funny idea, and if they both played along it would be perfect. But I know the GM exec was mortified and likely wants to forget it happened, and he’s a big IndyCar proponent so I say let’s not do it. See, I’m getting old and soft.