Q: I know that there is no return to MIS in the works, but I’m curious if you could explain how the seeming rift between IndyCar and MIS came to be. It was a terrific venue for open-wheel, side by side racing. The visibility from all the seats is just great. If there were to be an interest between IndyCar and MIS, what would the objection be from the Penske camp? And might MIS be in the mix for an IndyCar/NASCAR double-header? While I’m at it, I took your advice about NBC Gold pass and it is terrific. I’m sure they’ll work out the bugs…
RM: I don’t recall any rift. I think it was a mutual divorce after 2007 because attendance wasn’t very good for the IRL after replacing CART in 2002. But yes, it was always good racing, and I think it hit a high water mark in 1995 with about 70,000. But Belle Isle and MIS co-existed from 1989-2001, so I don’t imagine there would be any problem if there was proper spacing between dates.
Q: I’m the reporter from Pittsburgh who was sitting in front of you and Marshall at the IMS Media Center in May. I hope this email finds you well. Please pass along my best wishes, prayers and positivity to Shabral and Marshall. I was reading your Mailbag and the letter from Ronald Ness about business-to-business relationships and how they relate to sponsorship. I had to opportunity to sit down with PNC Bank’s Pittsburgh president to talk about their sponsorship of CGR and Scott Dixon and why it works on multiple levels. It was a fascinating interview and made a great story. Here is a link to share.
Scott Stiller, Pittsburgh, PA
RM: Much appreciated Scott, very interesting perspective from PNC and one of many ways that B-to-B works. Thanks.
Q: Was wondering what ever happened to IndyCar racing at Pikes Peak International Raceway? I ask because I am a huge IndyCar fan, haven’t missed the 500 since 1995, and I just moved out here to Colorado two months ago and it would be incredible to have that race again. Your thoughts?
RM: It’s still in operation, hosting concerts, performance schools and things like driving trucks, and the IndyCar race died a slow death like so many ovals and was gone after 2005. Everyone said the track was built on the wrong side of Colorado Springs, which discouraged Denver residents from attending.
Q: Besides the Indy 500, which is your favorite track? One that forces drivers to use all their skills? Or the one where speed is king?
Mike C, Sacramento
RM: I always liked Phoenix and Milwaukee for Indy cars because it made for such good racing in traffic, and Trenton was tricky and challenging. Kokomo and Little Springfield were my favorite midget tracks when I raced, and I always loved Eldora, Ascot and Manzanita for sprinters. DuQuoin was the best for dirt cars, and IRP hosted lots of good USAC racing.
Q: I am reading the book “The Perfect Car: The Biography of John Barnard.” In the book, he states that you “wrote that JR (Johnny Rutherford) drove the John Barnard-designed Chaparral constructed in England by BS Fabrications” and that Jim Hall confronted you about this, his claim being that Chaparral made the car under his direction. Is Jim the great innovator as we have been told, or is he just taking credit from others because his team ran the cars with the name Chaparral on them? Per the book, it sounds like the latter.
RM: I was walking through Gasoline Alley the morning after the 1980 Indy 500 and Hall came out and kinda threw The Indianapolis Star at me and yelled: “Where do you get your information? Who is this Barnard and B.S. Fabrication?” I kinda smiled and said something like, come on Jim, and he replied that the Chaparral was designed and built by Chaparral Racing. We didn’t speak again for about five years. Al Unser, who had quit the best ride in IndyCar after 1979 because he was so mortified and mad that Bernard wasn’t given credit or even mentioned by Hall, actually thanked me for writing that story.
Q: What do you think Greg Moore’s future would have been had we not lost him at age 24? He would have joined Team Penske the following season.
Mark McKinley, Floyds Knobs, IN
RM: Well, Helio got that ride and became very good at Indianapolis and is a three-time winner, but Greg was a better oval racer and he might have won Indy four or five times for The Captain.