Q: With respect to the Dean Hirasawa letter to you about a catch fence on the pit wall between the pit and track at Indy. ESPN, until this year, used to show old broadcasts of the 500 the week of Indy, and I remember one where Sir Jackie went around the track and talked about safety. One of this main problems was no type of catch fence or protection on that very wall, and he even foretold the development of the SAFER barrier we use today. And, of course, this was in the ’70s; leave it to Sir Jackie to discuss safety. Why do you think there still is not such a change?
Tom in Waco
RM: Not sure, but when they put up that fence for MotoGP I was hopeful it would stay for the Indy 500.
Q: Love reading your Q&A each week! I read the one about a catch fence along pit road at IMS. I believe all but right in front of the pagoda has a catch fence between pit road and any seating, and has since the remodel for F1. I’m curious if you think IMS will ever get SAFER barriers installed all around the oval? I’d imagine they’d not want to remove six feet of track surface on the front stretch, and I don’t see anyone wanting to pay to remove concrete walls to install the freestanding SAFER barriers like Iowa Speedway has, but it seems like playing a dangerous game by not having them all around the track.
Add me to the list of people who would watch/listen to Robin Miller stories! Why don’t we just get a book, a podcast, and a TV series? Thanks for all you do and congrats on winning the award named after you at IMS this year!
Brian S, Evansville, IN – Home track, Tri-state Speedway in Haubstadt, IN
RM: I stand corrected, there is a fence behind the pits at IMS but it just doesn’t look very sturdy, although it’s better than nothing and the fans do require visibility so maybe that’s the best available. I think the SAFER walls are where they need to be, and some of the protection inside Turn 2 (where Felix crashed last May) proved very valuable. I loved Haubstadt in a midget, and thanks for your comments.
Q: I have really liked the theme in the Mailbag lately of not bitching about things, but I’ve got two things I’ve got a bitch about. That was one of the best races in Texas in the last few years and nobody was there to watch it. What’s worse, the TV ratings came out on RACER.com and the TV viewership was pathetic – the trucks were .01 behind IndyCar at the same track on Friday night; 6000 less viewers, unbelievable.
What’s more unbelievable is that it’s Wednesday and Team Penske with the Menard Indy 500-winning car was at the White House on Monday and it hasn’t been covered anywhere except a political TV show last night. Roger was there, Pagenaud, Cindric and Miles was there. Is this some kind of political B.S. from IndyCar.com or any of the other outlets? No one has been invited from IndyCar since W invited Sam Hornish Jr in 2006. I guess the president called Penske in Victory Lane after they won and invited them and that hasn’t been covered. Totally embarrassing. Keep up the good work, and hopefully you can write a nice article about it.
CAM in LA
RM: I know it was a damn good race that nobody saw but Saturday night is supposedly not a good viewing night and I don’t know how to get people to go back to a place they used to pack. The White House visit was more of a photo op than a story, but I don’t recall anyone from Team Penske sending pics out.
Q: In the last Mailbag, Max from Moraga, CA asked about three-wide starts at Pocono. IndyCar did three-wide starts at Pocono in both the 2013 and 2014 races, but dropped it starting in 2015. The three-wide starts were both fairly clean – in 2013 Hinchcliff spun out by himself on the first lap in Turn 1 while running third, and in 2014 – the fastest 500-mile race ever run in IndyCar history – the only caution of the race didn’t come out until Lap 158 when Graham Rahal spun in Turn 2. Add me to the people that would love to see the three-wide start at Pocono again, but I can understand why they would not want to try it. Either way I’ll be in the stands and hoping IndyCar keeps coming back to Pocono for years to come.
Joe Rae, Archbald, PA
RM: I guess my concern is only having 22 starters so let’s just get through Turn 1, but I’d forgotten they went three-wide earlier this decade. See you in August.
Q: I’ve always been fascinated by those little air conditioner/fan units that teams put on the cars during downtime in the pits, mainly because almost none of them look alike. Are they all homemade by the crews? Do you know the history of these little things? Do they put out a lot of cold air? Who did it first?
Also, contrary to a lot of the complainers, I really like the NBC Gold package. Yeah, it was all free last year, but having Townsend and PT call every practice is worth the price of admission. It would be great if they could do more of your pit interviews, too. They should do like a half hour of just you doing interviews each race week.
Matt in Cicero, IN
RM: According to IndyCar tech chief Kevin Blanch: “They are custom-built by each team, most are self-contained and battery-powered. Nowadays they are getting pretty trick. Most contain a water bottle, driver fan, fans to cool the car electronics and a tablet with timing/scoring and data from the car. I’m not sure who did it first, but everybody has one in some form or another.”