Q: People seem to be upset with the shortened race one at Detroit. I was there, and waited out the storms to see a pretty darned good race! As you mentioned, they had to wait out several periods of lightning and empty the grandstands – that weather was severe. But what many people don’t realize is that weather radar showed another significant storm arriving after 6:00 p.m. It ended up just being more rain, but it looked like another significant weather event for a while. (We die-hards who waited things out watched enough weather apps to be amateur meteorologists!). So they squeezed the race into the window between storms, and did a very good job of it.
In typical Detroit GP fashion, the event workers and volunteers were extremely helpful, and kept everyone informed and safe. I’m glad that Sunday was a much nicer day, but do people not realize what IndyCar and NBC were up against on Saturday? I’ll have to say I was disappointed with NBC’s coverage of Indianapolis, although I think they can (and will) improve. They had very little pit road coverage or interviews — for a while, I really thought they had no reporters on pit road. I didn’t watch every minute, but I never saw any historical perspectives, technical features, or stories that explain what makes Indy great, and different from other races. No historical films (maybe due to ownership rights by ABC), no features/interviews with the Unsers/Foyt/Mears, no stories about the Clauson team and Bryan’s career and life, no features about the technical innovations at Indy. Did I miss them?
And the pit booth with Tirico/Patrick/Earnhardt just felt like a NASCAR gimmick, and it needs to go away. I don’t want to be reminded of NASCAR while watching the race. I actually thought Tirico was good, but they gave him no real role. Next year, I would like to see way fewer broadcasters, way more pit road coverage, and the inclusion of features by people who know and care about Indy – people like yourself. NBC has a lot of potential, but Indy was certainly not their best effort.
Tom Pate, Macomb, MI
RM: In between rain and lightning IndyCar and NBC tried to figure out how to get the first race run so the teams wouldn’t face two on Sunday and they pulled it off, albeit not satisfactory to many people because they truly don’t know or care what the circumstances were. I wish NBC would have used some historical features and let me host them, but maybe next May.
Q: I discovered your weekly Mailbag a couple months ago and have enjoyed reading through it ever since! This is my first time sending a question. I’ve been to a handful of 500s, the Indy GP and the Detroit GP, but will be going to Mid-Ohio for the first time this year. I am looking into tickets for the race and wanted to know your thoughts on the best places to sit around the track. Is there any good racing around grandstands, or are there any areas in the infield you’d recommend we check out? We are also considering getting a weekend pass, so any recommendations for restaurants or things to do in the area would be appreciated.
JP, Fort Wayne, IN
RM: The grandstand by Turns 2-3 sees lots of passing, but one of Mid-Ohio’s best features is that people can walk around and see many different parts of the track. The best restaurant (hands down) in Mansfield is Rocky’s, and you’ll probably see Mario having clams and a steak. The best drive-in is on outskirts of Lexington is BJ’s, and has killer sloppy Joes that A.J. loves.
Q: As we head into the heart of the IndyCar season, what impresses me most about the series is the passion the drivers have for what they are doing. How about this quote from Sage Karam, who was fighting back tears after qualifying for the 500: “Just to race in this race, you’re one of 33 humans walking this earth that get the privilege of taking the green flag, and I don’t take that for granted.” Or how about the post-race interview with Rossi where you could tell he was absolutely gutted to finish second. Then there was Pagenaud, holding his head high through all the struggles and bad finishes, who put on the drive of his career to win the 500. None of the drivers, from the veterans to the rookies, take anything for granted in this series. It is the best series in the world where everyone can compete and you never can predict who the winner will be. Thank you IndyCar and drivers for giving us a real racing series that is a pleasure to watch.
Rick Schneider, Charlotte
RM: Thanks for your perspective.