Q: Toronto proved again why Aaron Telitz should be in an Indy Lights/IndyCar full-time. He had the field covered in Race 1 with a pole and a convincing win. In Race 2 he immediately took the lead from third position at the start, led 23 laps, and set fastest lap of the race before being taken out by a foolish move from a guy who basically blew his chances for a championship while leading his only rival. All this after not having a whole lot of current seat time in a Lights car. Kudos to Brian Belardi for doing all he can to keep a local Wisconsin boy in a ride. Come on, you would-be sponsors out there! This kid is a winner.
Joe Weiss, Spooner, Wisconsin
RM: You are spot-on Joe, what an impressive weekend for Aaron. I talked to him and Brian afterwards and it’s so cool to see an owner work with a driver he truly believes in and not make it all about sponsorship. I know Vasser and Sully really like Telitz and want to test him in an IndyCar, so this story could get really good.
Q: For the last three years I volunteered in Formula E’s NYC Eprix since I live in city and love sim racing (though I’m terrible at it), and loved to get among the action and support the racing operation. This year I was assigned to help manage and distribute credentials. For purpose of concealing my identity so as to not incriminate myself and protect my colleagues, I’m using the pseudonym MZ. In through the door comes a slightly shorter person than I am, and when asked, he says his surname first: Servia. My brain starts clicking and my bosses says “M, start looking for envelopes for ‘Servia;” then they ask his full name and he mumbles “Oriol Servia.” As my eyes are coming off the pile of credentials and my brain starts to backfire into vocalization, the very first things out of my mouths are following: “Of course I know you, Oriol, great to see you! Guys, he’s the pace car driver in IndyCar.”
Oriol immediately says, “20 years of racing and this is what I’m remembered for? Full credit, he is a wonderful sport and I was rightfully put in my place! It was regrettable moment, but it was somewhat humorous! None of the ladies I worked for knew of him and he was recounting how he was three laps short of winning the Indy 500 in 2018. He was psyched to be in NY for the first time to check out track, as I presumed he was representing Dragon. Did I do Oriol dirty? What’s your favorite story/moment involving Oriol?
RM: Servia has a splendid sense of humor so his response was perfect, but not every veteran might have given you that same tone of voice. My memories are that he’s always been a smart, fast driver who made a great teammate but never had a top shelf steady ride for any length of time. You could plug him into any situation and he always delivered.
Q: I always appreciate the insights you bring to NBC and your RACER columns. I have read your article and the Mailbag responses to the “young demographic” with interest. I am somewhat on the younger end of the IndyCar demographic (a strong 33 years old) and have thought a lot about how to get people my age into the sport that I can’t get enough of. I think witnessing the on-track action in person is key to appreciating and starting to understanding the sport.
I wonder if expanding tracks closer to urban centers would help getting the casual fan (regardless of age) into the grandstands and becoming fans of the sport? Portland seems to be a good move in this direction – you can stay in the city and easily Uber or drive to the track, it is a city with a relatively young population, and a great deal of local pride. Last year, I brought a couple rookie friends down from Seattle on the train: we made a weekend of it in Portland, and they loved it. I think the combination of proximity to the city, a friend to explain some of the nuances of racing, and an awesome race contributed to their new appreciation of the sport. St. Pete, Long Beach, Toronto all seem to be well-attended as well. What are the chances IndyCar continues to expand into tracks/street races nearer urban centers? Do you have any thoughts on a YouTube or other video series to help explain the tactics/strategy of racing to new comers-a sort of “So you don’t know anything about IndyCar” series? Thanks again for all you do for our great sport.
For the love of speed,
Neil, Hoosier expatriate
RM: There is no doubt that bringing the show to the people is the easiest way to generate a crowd, but by the same token only Long Beach and Toronto have withstood the test of time (St. Pete is nearing 20 years) because street racing is so expensive. We’d heard that Denver was a possibility to return but that died down and Norfolk, Va. had some potential a couple years ago and Nashville had a group that was interested. But other than Richmond, nothing on the immediate horizon. But getting the funding, the political help, the right date and a title sponsor is no easy task, and Portland is one of the few road courses in a major city so that’s a big plus. But the fact so much action takes place at a street road course compared to an oval has become as big a selling point as proximity. Don’t know of any videos like you are talking about, but that might be a good off-season project for IndyCar.