Q: In all my 21 years, I’ve been a die-hard IndyCar fan, and nothing has changed. However this year, after seeing the F1 Netflix series, I decided to watch it and give it a go. Daniel Ricciardo would be amazing to have in IndyCar. I think teams need to start thinking about him when his deal with Renault is up after 2020, which happens to be aligning with the new engine package coming the following year. He is a killer driver and wants to be a winner. Not to mention he has a very good personality and is very liked worldwide. Unless some major changes happen, there will still be 2.5 good teams on the F1 grid (.5 being Red Bull), and unless one of the seats at Ferrari or Mercedes opens, he’s not getting a better seat. In your opinion, what are the odds we see him either try Indy, or come here full-time in 2021?
Ben from Noblesville
RM: Have no idea if he’s ever entertained the thought of IndyCars or ovals, but he would have to take a massive pay cut, and I’d say the odds are slim we’ll ever see him.
Q: The past few weeks, some people have been saying that having Danica Patrick and Dale Jr. on the Indy 500 broadcast is a bad thing. While I get that some folks may not like them for one reason or another, I think it helps raise the profile of the event and draw new fans in. The first Indy 500 I watched in full was in 2006, when Rusty Wallace was on the broadcast crew. Some folks didn’t care much for his skills in the booth, but he was the driver I followed in NASCAR, so I made sure I watched the race. All these years later I watch every IndyCar race (thanks to NBC Gold) and I’ve been to a few in person. The point is, any popular personality will introduce new fans to the sport, even if they aren’t so good in the booth. Just my glass-half full take on how became an IndyCar fan.
P.S. Bring back NH, I’ll be there.
Kyle in MA
RM: Dale’s podcast has over a million listeners, and I have no doubt he will bring new fans to the Indy telecast. Rusty called it the Daytona 500 a couple times, but he was a big name – just like Danica, whether you agree or not. But I think Junior will be the draw.
Q: I recall an interview Danica gave last fall in which she said the IndyCar paddock has a lot of posers, fronters, and fakes. Ouch! That’s kind of personal. I wonder, when Danica’s doing face-to-face interviews with IndyCar drivers in May, how will she be regarded? I mean, it’s hard to imagine RHR, Dixon, Power, and TK (to name only a few of the very hardworking and pretty straightforward drivers in the IndyCar paddock) taking that lightly. Or, who knows, maybe it’s just water under the bridge. What do you think, will that interview linger?
Bert C. Reiser
RM: I remember when she said that, and I thought, ‘Where did that come from?’ Not sure how much interaction she’ll have with the drivers next month, but they’re all pretty classy so I doubt they’ll be anything but cooperative with Miss P.
Q: Since the IndyCar visit to COTA, there have been comparisons to F1 in your Mailbag. I have been a fan of both series for over 50 years. However, there currently is no comparison. IndyCar may be slower, it may be spec, but it is competitive and interesting. I have watched little F1 over the past few years. While he is a great driver, I’m tired of Lewis Hamilton winning most races and championships. I DVR the qualifying and races, but I check the results before I watch. If it is another Hamilton win, I delete.
Bruce Kerr, Philadelphia
RM: The best thing about IndyCar, besides the competition, is that you don’t know who is going to win the pole or the race, and that should make people want to watch.
Q: I grew up in Wisconsin in the ’80s/’90s and the Indy 500 was pretty much the only non-NASCAR race I made a point to watch. I didn’t appreciate road racing until IndyCar became my favorite series (around 10 years ago). Still, street races were the toughest sell. It didn’t click with me until my wife and I escaped the cold to visit St. Pete in 2017. We had an absolute blast all weekend. Paddock passes and grid access on race day. Non-stop action on the track. It felt like a big event, and we were right in the middle of it. Several people we met said, “You think this is cool, you should see Long Beach.”
When we got home and cranked up the DVR we found that the race was fairly ho-hum from the couch. Long story short, don’t knock street races until you’ve tried it (including you mid-western oval fans). They are part of a balanced racing diet. In terms of TV, I think the key to street races is to go heavier on the on-board cameras. I like to see just how fast and bumpy those courses are. You can really see the drivers work! There was a lot of it on NBC, which I liked.
RM: I guess the easiest way to describe the differences: ovals and road courses are more pure racing, while street races are a show or an event built around a day of cars, trucks and vintage cars.
Q: Nice column, but honestly, I think the only loyalty the decision makers are going to have it to the money that will come from a new baseball stadium. After the most recent race, which was exceedingly boring to watch on television, IndyCar had better come up with some ideas to prevent that from happening again, or who will care? If the stadium does come to pass, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the race will go away. A new track layout might be possible.
Doug Mayer, Revelstoke, BC, Canada
RM: Like I wrote, it terms of making money for the city, a baseball stadium is a no-brainer because it’s around all year and also has concerts, etc. I asked Jim Michaelian if he had explored an alternative site, and he said he didn’t want to go there yet because he needed more information on the whole process. But it would be a crushing blow for IndyCar to lose Long Beach.
Q: In regards to IndyCar’s (endless) search for international races to start the season, has any consideration been given to Adelaide? The Supercars run their race there on the first weekend in March, so it would not have the scheduling issues Surfers has. It is arguably a way better circuit than the current Surfers layout. There is open-wheel history there – not IndyCar, but fans did turn out for it. Most important, we get a round back in Australia to capitalize on the successes of Power and Dixon. Has there been any promoter interest?
Dennis C., Streamwood, IL
RM: Not to my knowledge, just Surfers at the moment, but IndyCar has to reduce its price to have a shot.