Q: It seems to me the consensus is that Road America is, if not the best road course in North America, certainly on the short list, correct? With that being said, over the years has there ever been any consideration given to Road America hosting the F1 U.S. Grand Prix? If not, why not? Keep up the great work.
RM: Not to my knowledge. You’ve got to remember that Bernie Ecclestone stayed in Chicago during the USGP at Indianapolis because he couldn’t find a room or restaurant to suit his tastes. So despite its wonderful track, Elkhart Lake never got a look. Where would Bernard have stayed? Or dined? Seibkens? Not sure if Liberty Media has that same attitude, but judging by their wish list of Miami or L.A., it appears they’re looking for a cosmopolitan city to host another F1 race.
Q: So, watching the World Cup, and in particular the “I Believe” commercials, and it occurs to me that auto racing and IndyCar needs to be proactive in bringing young girls into the sport to not only help the sport grow, but to bring a whole new audience into the sport now and for the future. So, my question is two-fold: does IndyCar agree with my view toward growth, and is there a proactive attempt at any level of auto racing to recruit women into the sport? If not, should there be?
I don’t mean to slight Pippa Mann with these questions — she does an extraordinary job with limited resources and she is much to be admired for her efforts. Nor do I mean to dismiss the accomplishments of Danica Patrick or Sarah Fisher or Lynn St. James or Janet Guthrie or any of the other females racers who achieved in IndyCar racing. But female racers are under-represented in the sport and you’d think by now they’d have a bigger impact. Also (which is, I suppose, a third question), are there female drivers in the lower ranks we should be keeping an eye on as they climb the ladder to the top series? If so, who?
Jake, Pasadena, CA
RM: IndyCar didn’t think it was important to find Sarah Fisher a ride when she was the IRL’s most popular driver, and nobody lifted a finger to keep Danica in open-wheel when she bolted for NASCAR. So my short answer is no, there’s never been any kind of recruiting plan, and IndyCar didn’t even try and keep the two fastest female racers that Indy’s ever had. There are some young ladies currently making some headlines in stock cars (Hailie Deegan and Natalie Decker) and midgets/sprints (Holly Hollan, Maria Cofer and McKenna Hasse) but here’s how young ladies can get involved in motorsports. It’s a program started by Katie Hargitt, a former Ford Focus midget racer and NBC pit reporter who now works for IMS Productions:
“Happy to pitch in here, but our “Fuel the Female” initiative is more focused on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) side of the sport (ie: engineers and mechanics). IndyCar is forward-thinking in this way with many successful women on the grid. Firestone boasts a female lead engineer with Cara Adams, Chip Ganassi Racing leans on Kate Gundlach to engineer the IceMan’s fuel strategy, and Andretti Autosport employees the only full-time female mechanic in the paddock. There are many more women up and down the grid that I didn’t mention. In all, eight women work full-time on the competition side (directly affecting the performance of a car) of IndyCar. It’s an improvement from just a few years ago, but more improvements can always be made.” – Katie Hargitt
Q: Looking to go to Iowa for the first time this year and noticed all the seats available. You keep mentioning Pocono leaving schedule for 2020; how is Iowa going to remain without Iowa Corn providing sponsorship? Is this last year of Iowa’s contract with IndyCar?
James, Campbellsville, KY
RM: Iowa has a new title sponsor, and even though it’s the final year of its contract I think both parties want to continue. And Pocono is probably 50-50 to return.
Q: Geez Miller, take it easy. What if I were a first-timer or some kid with that email? While we all appreciate the time you put in to answer our questions (and I get that you must get tired of the same questions), damn man. It wasn’t like I was asking about Michigan. Now, back to the topic. 1.) Rossi spent most of his life working towards F1. If a chance for a competitive ride (Merc, Ferrari or Red Bull) comes up, why wouldn’t he be interested? Same goes for Max. Even with the win in Austria, would Max not consider jumping ship if a seat opened up at Merc or Ferrari?
2.) You’ve said yourself how keen Honda is to keep Rossi. Honda has four seats in F1. If AA can’t come up with the money, might Honda dangle that carrot? I can’t imagine him being interested in driving for Toro Rosso, but the senior team might have two vacancies at the end of the season. 3.) Would Rossi take a spot at Penske if he has the chance to win in F1? 4.) Sorry, I don’t have the FIA on speed dial to ask them if he still has his Super License. Which is why I asked you.
Look, my preference is pretty much the same as everyone else’s – that he stay at AA and maintain the balance. Losing a driver of that caliber to any other series would suck. Especially to F1, which is so predictable I quit watching. You seemed pretty offended at my suggestion. My apologies, but still, damn.
Mike in SD
RM: I wasn’t offended or mad, and I’m sorry you took it that way. I just simply found it highly improbably that Rossi would want to leave IndyCar since he’s become one of the drivers to beat every week and he’s loving life. Nor do I think F1 is in a pursuit mode to bring him back, but I imagine it’s possible, just not for the two teams he could win races for. And sure Verstappen might jump to Mercedes or Ferrari if offered, but he’s the face of F1 for the next 20 years. Right now Rossi is the new face of IndyCar. I can’t answer No. 3. I will ask Alex about his Super License this week at Toronto. Thanks for writing and being a passionate IndyCar fan.