Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 8, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 8, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 8, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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In fairness, Fontana 2015 was pretty crazy. Image by Ellman/LAT

Q: A good race is what the Indy 500 was last year. I was in the stands and very happy to watch how it all played out. There were some incredible passes where it was tough to pass, and the winner really wasn’t determined (though we were pretty sure) until Harvey and Wilson had to pit.  It was a good race, and fun to watch.

A great race was Fontana in 2015. Man, that race had you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. I know a few of the drivers were not happy with the style of racing, but it certainly looked like everyone had enough room to make some moves. Watching that on TV and having Steve Matchett’s mind blown during the commentary was just spectacular. Luckily Briscoe’s accident was just that – man, what a finish!

I was a fan when Newgarden schooled everyone in Iowa, and when Rossi drove away from everyone at Long Beach.  The races need to be diverse as well – we can’t always have a Fontana, as it would get old quick. Overall, I’m happy with changes for the lead on the track, and if we get a few of those during a race, I’m very happy. On the whole, IndyCar has the best product, and hits the mark more often then not.

Jake Murray

Q: Being a lifelong drag racing fan, someone winning by 0.003s on a holeshot is my optimal awesome race scenario. TV does not do it justice. The NHRA has been making its events more about the pros, and sportsmen car counts are down. If you have never seen the nitro cars run in person, please attend a drag race and whiff some nitro. I have found that as I aged I became a road-racing fan. I have attended at least one race a year at the Glen for 20 years straight. I also became a NASCAR fan watching Inside Winston Cup on Speed. I still find ovals boring, but was lucky enough to see Junior win at Talladega in 2015.

Formula 1 is a favorite way to spend Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, I cannot recall any grand prix ending with anyone within a second of the leader, but watching their races from faraway lands is better than anything else that is happening Sunday morning. I watch Supercross faithfully during the void of the winter, and it ends just as most tracks in the northeast are opening for the season. I know this comment will cause a commotion on the comment section. Supercross is great racing. There are no pit stops, and track conditions change every lap which causes riders to make mistakes. Seeing a driver win his or her first or last race also ranks right up there in my book.

Bob, the world’s fastest fan

Q: A good race starts by not being predictable. A good race leaves the fans cheering for someone that is making a charge from behind, like in 1982 when Mears was chasing down Johncock, or Hornish catching Marco and winning at the line in 2006.

All of those races ,including 2014,15,16 and 17 were the result of being able to use a wider range of downforce levels than what we’re currently seeing with the new aero spec. I’m a fan of the teams having more options, as that typically results in better racing, and I believe that would be true in all forms of motorsports as there aren’t enough options for teams to make changes to either run a higher or lower downforce level.

I say, bring back the 2017 aero kit for Indy only, as the teams had so many different options to choose from, or at least add more options to the latest spec aero kit. And for the other races, whether it’s a road course or the high banks of Texas, the teams need more freedom of choice on wing configurations etc. The freedom they have on dampers costs a ridiculous amount of money that adds nothing to the racing, but yet teams are limited on aero configurations that could really spice up the show.

Best Regards, TK

Q: I want to see excellence. That could mean a few different things. It could mean an all-out dogfight, 68 lead changes. It’s a photo finish first, second and third are hair-widths apart, like at Portland all those years ago. Or 1982, 1992, 2006 at Indy. Who doesn’t want to see racing like that? When I say excellence, I also mean absolute mastery. Al Jr. at Long Beach, 1992 Indy with Michael running away from the field. That, to me, is great racing. If someone is so on his game, his car is so well set-up and his team has done such an amazing job, that is something to be admired, not looked at as boring.

We live in a culture that is so into excitement that sometimes we don’t appreciate greatness when we see it. I think what Mercedes has done in F1 is amazing. Granted, it does get repetitive, but shame on their competitors for not rising to the challenge and knocking them off. And good on F1 for not changing the rules, a la the Chase, to manufacture drama. If someone is that good, their team is that good, car is that good that they win the title with three races left, so be it. They deserve it! That is excellence. Great racing is in the eye of the beholder. In my mind it can be a great battle with an amazing finish. But it can also mean saying, man they kicked everyone’s butt today because they were on a level beyond, and that’s going to be remembered!

Jack Pallett

Q: In my mind, the No.1 thing that brings eyes to the TV or butts to the race tracks are the drivers. These young drivers buying rides don’t do it for me, I just can’t get excited for them. Back in the day it was a driver’s skill coming up through the ranks, and the dues they paid, that allowed them to develop into the legends you were name-dropping in your article. How do you think the audience would be if Mario and A.J. decided to dust off their driving suits?

I was at the F1 race in Indy back in 2000, and Mario was racing in one of the Porsche races that weekend. I watched and cheered, but I have no idea who won, how Mario finished, or the name of any other driver in the field. I just remember that I got to watch Mario race. I just can’t stress enough the importance of developing the drivers and personalities so we have someone to cheer for, because the on-track product is No.2.

Brandon Thorvilson

Q: Ultimately, it’s unpredictability. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of different answers to the question, but if you really analyze the answers, I’m sure most of them will have unpredictability as a common denominator. When people don’t know who’s going to win, it makes things more exciting. Many, myself included, actually didn’t like the IRL pack racing because more often than not, every time they came around it was the same person leading at the line, making the procession predictable and in the process excessively dangerous for no real benefit.

More recent forms of pack racing, where they can only hold for a few laps before having to reshuffle, have been far more interesting. This issue of unpredictability even extends back to the old days. Those multiple-lap victory margins you spoke of were often the result of other competitors having trouble and spending too much time in the pits, making it entirely possible that the leader could also suffer a problem. But in modern times we no longer enjoy this thanks to the advent of near-bulletproof reliability. Runaway victories no longer have that element of uncertainty, thus making close racing – where there’s a chance that the guy behind will be able to make an attempt – the simplest way to add uncertainty to the equation. Somebody in the comments section stated, “if I know who is going to win after qualifying, I don’t watch.” This sums up the modern race fan quite nicely. After all, just because a lot of people tune into something, doesn’t mean that the racing is good – and some of them will admit to this flat-out. There are many reasons race fans tune into their chosen series, and “good racing” isn’t the only one.

Formula Fox

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