Q: Nice to meet you in person at Iowa. It’s amazing how quickly the weekend goes by when it’s just the two days. I wanted to shoot the breeze with you on the random IndyCar scuttlebutt, like, Ferrucci (who’s a blast to talk to) has to have a bright future, no? Most of the better seats for ’20 are probably settled in, but he’s got to be in line when they open up. I loved the race, it was the first time that I’ve seen the IndyCars run on a short oval and I’m embarrassed that it’s taken me this long. Hopefully they’ll schedule that race for nighttime next year and forever into the future.
RM: Santino has been a breath of fresh air and I’m sure Dale Coyne wants to keep him, and I imagine the kid is plenty happy with his engineer, Mike Cannon, since they’ve clicked like Mike usually does with rookies. Not sure there will be many seats opening up, anyway.
Q: I always love the IndyCar race at Iowa. It’s fast, there’s lots of passing, and the cars look fantastic under the lights. I was dismayed to hear that there’s been some difficulty in securing a deal for IndyCar to return, but I choose to hope that an agreement can be secured, because for IndyCar to leave Iowa would be a colossal mistake. In fact, the racing is so good at Iowa that I would like to see more short tracks on the IndyCar schedule.
I know there’s been some discussion about Richmond, which I think would be a great addition to the schedule. But that got me thinking: What would be some other good short tracks to add? I know long-time fans would like to see Milwaukee return, but to be honest, I’m not sure the racing would be any good. Relatively flat ovals don’t seem to agree with IndyCar nowadays (look at Phoenix), so any new track would need plenty of banking.
With that in mind, how about Dover? Short oval, high banks, and in the middle of a relatively untapped market for IndyCar racing. I’m sure the fans that the series made during the Baltimore street races would love to see IndyCar return to the area. Are there any other short track you can think of that would be good for IndyCar to visit?
RM: Not sure where you heard that, because I was told that negotiations were in progress to continue. Richmond will likely get the nod, but Dover was a disaster in the IRL and we’ve been down the Milwaukee and Phoenix paths and it’s over. No other short tracks on the radar.
Q: I never had much interest in car racing until I saw Helio Castroneves on “Dancing with the Stars.” I doubted he was anything more than a “wanna-be” race car driver until my brother set me straight. I have been an Indy fan ever since. This sister now drags her racing fan brother to races including Fontana, Sonoma, Phoenix, Mid-Ohio, this year the Indy GP and the upcoming race at Laguna Seca. And now I am a big fan of F1 as well (despite Mercedes domination — and what the heck happened to Vettel!).
This year’s Indy coverage rarely shows pit times. In year’s past, the pit times where shown probably 75% to 80% of the time. This year it has dropped to less than 20% and the pit times are not even discussed by the announcers. I am at a loss as to why pit times are no longer deemed important information. Can you shed some light? Love you guys! PT and Bell are a crack-up when they get going. I appreciate your insights.
Meredyth Meredith, Riverside, CA
RM: I’m in the pits during the race so I can’t always see the monitor, but it seems like we show them if they’re extremely quick or slow. But good stops have become routine so it’s not really that much of a story unless there’s a problem like JoNew had last Sunday. Helio is a good racer, and judging by debut last Saturday on NBCSN, a pretty damn good pit reporter as well.
Q: A question about formal education and IndyCar drivers. Does it help? I noticed that Sage Karam is listed as a high school graduate. I’d guess that many drivers, throwing their all into a racing career have no experience of higher education. Who are the exceptions — and does it make a difference as a racer or as a person? I recall Milka Duno had several Masters degrees, and that Mark Donohue was a university grad engineer.
RM: Oriol Servia had engineering experience in college, but Bobby Unser never graduated high school yet knew as much about a chassis as anyone. I don’t think college matters, but today’s race driver needs to learn as much as possible about how to set up his or her car to try and find a tenth or two because it’s so competitive.
Q: Regarding Iowa. Wow that was a show, and IndyCar under the lights is very special. Just like Texas, there’s always something happening and the coverage continues to improve. I’ve followed IndyCar for years and a major improvement is the drivers’ attitudes during interviews and the fun they appear to have. It’s not an easy sport. Not so many years ago IndyCar drivers had an arrogant and aloof attitude, but that’s long gone. Do you agree? I’m a racing fan so no particular favorite team or driver. Always looking for a clean safe race. That said, how refreshing to hear Scott Dixon be pleased with a second and express it? Lastly… Robert Wickens. How great was that, and a life-long role model for all. Hope my views qualify for the positive way IndyCaris progressing! Thanks for reading and keeping us informed.
Pete Bicknell, Somerset, NJ
RM: I’ve always though IndyCar drivers are about as accommodating to the fans and media as any group – especially under the circumstances of having a microphone shoved in their face right after they crashed at 200 mph. No other sport has that kind of instant access, and this current batch of drivers are a joy to work around.