Q: Having read about Mario’s 50th anniversary of winning the 500 got me thinking about his identical twin brother Aldo (who doesn’t look identical now due to facial reconstruction after a bad wreck), and what might have been. It sounds like Aldo was as fast as Mario at the beginning, but had a head injury that left him in a brief coma the first year they were racing. I don’t know how much you know about Aldo, but it makes me wonder if fortunes had been a little different, is it possible Aldo could have had a career as amazing as Mario’s? What does Mario think?
RM: My late HS buddy and former USAC racer Danny Milburn stooged for Aldo when he was running sprinters in the ’60s and he had a couple nasty accidents, one that ended his career. But Mario always said he had talent, just never got a big break and ran with it. A delightful fella, you never heard Aldo ever complain about his fate.
Q: Robin, what are your favorite racing books? Would appreciate any suggestions on IndyCar, drivers, IMS, tracks, eras, rivalries, etc.
RM: Black Noon, Against Death & Time, Vukovich, Lone Wolf and Foyt, Andretti and Petty would be a good start.
Q: Is there any more to read into Mr Forsythe being at Long Beach? First race in 12 years has me thinking about a few different scenarios. Can you refresh my memory on why he has been MIA? Would be nice to get him on board again as a team owner.
RM: When IRL and Champ Car merged, Gerry bowed out. He felt like he’d lost the war (when in fact open-wheel had lost to NASCAR) and wanted nothing more to do with racing. He kept his shop forever and we always thought maybe he’d at least try Indy again, but he said at Long Beach he’s got no plans to return.
Q: I’ve written to you a couple of times at the beginning of the last two seasons asking whether or not Gerald Forsythe has shown any interest in returning to IndyCar. Both times the answer has been that the Forsythe ship has sailed and it isn’t coming back. However, during the NBC LBGP broadcast, and in your April 15 RACER.com story about the Long Beach ballpark issue, you mentioned that Gerald was in attendance at the LBGP, which was his first IndyCar race in 12 years. To me, even though he co-owns the LBGP, the mere fact that he finally attended was a very positive sign and a giant step in the right direction for Gerald. Outside of his co-ownership, was there something or someone that motivated him to finally attend a race? In speaking with Gerald, did you get the sense that he may finally be warming up to a possible return to IndyCar?
James Jackson, Livonia, MI
RM: Not at all. He co-owns the event with Kevin Kalkhoven and said Jim Michaelian had been on him to attend, so he decided to show up. He’s 80 and looks great, but didn’t seem to miss racing at all.
Q: I’ll start by saying COTA did a wonderful job hosting IndyCar. Plenty of concessions, traffic was well directed, and the schedule was nicely packaged. (Also those Stadium Trucks were a riot!) I’ve attended every major race since the track opened, and every year they’ve made infrastructure improvements. With each race there’s a new sidewalk, an entrance, permanent restroom facilities etc. I hope they’ve earned their spot in the IndyCar calendar for years to come.
For those wondering about a bundle for COTA’s races, they offer a package on Cyber Monday. It’s general admission for all the major races at COTA – F1, IndyCar, and MotoGP (I cannot remember if RallyCross is included) for somewhere in the neighborhood of $200. You can get the offer by signing up for their email list on the COTA website.
Jake, New York
RM: Thanks for that tip on Cyber Monday. All I know is that it was one of the best road races I’ve seen in 25 years, and I think IndyCar was happy. Not sure about COTA, but it’s a three-year deal.
Q: My wife and I have made the trip up to COTA for the F1 race three times, and went to the IndyCar race this year. We live in San Antonio, and make the 75-or-so minute drive up and back every day for race weekend because it’s far less expensive than staying in Austin. Cost-wise, there’s no comparison – for the price of just one three-day F1 grandstand ticket, for IndyCar we got three grandstand tickets, three paddock passes, and three days parking.
In terms of racing action for the price, there was no comparison. While the support races for F1 have been getting less interesting over the years (especially with the loss of the Masters F1 series), the Stadium Trucks came for the IndyCar race and I’ll be damned if everyone in the stands didn’t have a silly grin while watching them. The biggest difference crowd-wise is in numbers and interest level. There were far fewer people in the IndyCar crowd (which made getting around far easier), but I saw an awful lot of F1 gear in the stands for the IndyCar race, so I think there is a fair bit of crossover in the market. Also, I noticed far more people sticking around all day/every day, as opposed to the F1 crowd who tends to show up just as qualifying begins on Saturday, and just as the green flag waves on Sunday.
We’re planning to go back up in November for the USGP again, but frankly we had more fun at the IndyCar race. It’s kind of like the difference between The Godfather and GoodFellas – The Godfather may be the pinnacle of film, but GoodFellas is just a lot more engaging and fun to watch. Hopefully COTA made off well enough to bring it back next year. Granted, this is just my “butt dyno”/anecdotal data, and your mileage may vary, but the COTA experience brought this lapsed IndyCar fan from CART days back into the fold.
Jason Smith, San Antonio, Texas
RM: Appreciate the scouting report, I’d just love to know how many fans showed up from Austin for each event? We went downtown and nobody knew anything about the IndyCar race, and I was talking to some folks from Missouri who said they could drive, stay in a hotel and watch the IndyCar race cheaper than a three-day F1 ticket. It just seems like different crowds, but maybe there’s some crossover.
Q: I found it amusing that some fans are concerned about Mike Tirico leading the NBC team for the Indy 500 broadcast. I’m listening to him call only his second NHL game (my Islanders sweeping the Penguins in round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs) and I’m convinced the man can call any sport well from the first event. He obviously does his pregame prep and he’s probably spent a lot of time with Doc Emrick to iron out the finer points for his hockey stint. I’m sure he’ll not disappoint. He has a good voice for sports. NBC is doing a phenomenal job this year, from the on-air talent (even you, Miller) to the camera folks, production truck peeps, and all the other folks that contribute (I’m looking at you production assistants and interns) to make the broadcasts happen.
RM: There is a reason he’s the face of NBC Sports, and it’s because he’s so damn good and versatile. I too watched his NHL debut and he sounded like he’d been doing it for 20 years. I think he’ll really embrace Indy and be very comfortable.