Q: Robin, you were always quite critical of ABC (Always Bad Coverage) but if you watched NBC (Nothing But Commercials) this weekend at Road America I can’t imagine that you would be behind what your employer produced. They went to a commercial break – no joke – every other lap, and constantly missed action. There is no way this is what IndyCar signed up for. How do we, the fans, send the message to NBC to knock this stuff off? Do we channel through folks like you, hope Mark Miles and IndyCar send the message or do we actually need to turn off the TV for a race or two to get the message across? How do the fans get results here, because this was embarrassingly bad on NBC’s part.
Ryan Ward, Alexandria, VA
RM: You’re the only complainer about commercials this week Ryan (and this will be the final letter ever about them), so I don’t know what to say other than somebody has to pay for the telecast, and did NBC miss anything important? And do you really believe ABC did a better job of covering IndyCar than NBC is doing?
Q: All the comments about Road America being rough reminds me when I first started going to RA in the early 1960s. Back then the track was owned by Cliff Tufte. Tufte was a civil engineer and the president of Elkhart Lake Sand & Gravel, which built roads and railroad track beds. As such, he knew a bunch of paving contractors. At the time, the track was billiard table smooth. And after each Wisconsin winter, they looked over the track for any damage the snow and ice might have caused, and fixed it. Do the drivers complain?
Chad R. Larson
RM: No, Will Power kiddingly said he’d like to see the track repaved but knows that would cost a fortune and then he added that he loved the track the way is was. I don’t hear many complaints.
Q: While he’s not one of the all-time greats, I don’t know if PT’s career gets the kudos that I feel it deserves. Are there any plans for a “PT retrospective” piece on NBC? He raced against a lot of the greats and more than held his own. Would love to hear the stories. What is the feeling about him in the paddock by those who know him? I know he’s a polarizing figure, but racers recognize talent don’t they?
RM: I imagine something like that could happen down the road, and P.T. was certainly one of the best of his era. I think the drivers respect him as well as like him because he’s one of them – just maybe a little crazier.
Q: I am writing this before the Road America race. Pato O’Ward, great talent was promised certain things it didn’t happen and we know the story. Is he gone after this year and off to Red Bull’s driver program? We know Fast Fred (not really) missed the 500 and it was a huge story, but when O’Ward missed out as well my first reaction was ‘no Mexico race in the near future.’ Is IndyCar missing out again on a young talented driver who would/could help bring a needed race to Mexico?
RM: I don’t care about a race in Mexico as much as I do about having Pato in the series full-time in 2020. I believe Red Bull has plans for him if he can ever get his Super License, but in the meantime Trevor Carlin wants to try and find the money to keep him and I know of at least one other IndyCar team that’s interested in him. I’d hate to lose him to F1 but that would be a lot better than having him sit on the sidelines over here.
Q: Since Roger Penske has a history with McLaren, and it sounds like Alonso will probably be only at Indianapolis in 2020 since McLaren isn’t running a full schedule. What do you think if Alonso would run the fourth car for Penske at Indy? Especially if Helio doesn’t return in 2020?
Steve in Lebanon, IN
RM: I guess The Captain might consider it and I wouldn’t count Helio out yet, but what happens if Rossi goes there? They’re not gonna run five cars.
Q: In the 6/19 Mailbag you answered one letter: “Not sure if Miles is against it as much as he is wary of NASCAR out-drawing the IndyCar show.” In a later reply you say: “The goal would be to get fans of stock cars to watch IndyCars and vice versa.” What if it’s one ticket for both races? That would get the oil and water to mix in the same stands… but it would have to be all GA. Perhaps whatever track hosts this can make some GA seating available on a ‘super-ticket’ with the understanding that you probably won’t get those same seats for both races, just deal with it and sit nearby. But you will be seating IndyCar fans right next to NASCAR fans. That’s the point, no? My wife thinks they should do this at an oval that also has a road course so IndyCar can run road-course and NASCAR can run oval. Not many tracks can do that, but Charlotte comes to mind. Think they’d take open-wheel back if it wasn’t on the oval?
Bill Bailey, Fresno
RM: I think everything is a possibility because right now it’s just talk, but I would assume the promoter will make sure it’s a fan friendly-priced ticket for both races – that’s the goal to draw more people. And yes, I think Charlotte would be considered.