Q: I’m probably in the minority, but being a West Coast IndyCar fan gives us the advantage of time. Of course I would have liked the Iowa race to start on time, but I enjoyed all of the interviews of the drivers on the TV broadcast, as well as watching the IMSA race from earlier in the day. I was working the Twitter feed and Instagram trying to get those weather updates. Oh no, looks like rain. Looking good! No it’s spitting again. It’s back on! Drivers to your cars! I know it would be different in person, but great job NBC in keeping the rain delay interesting. Also, turned out to be an interesting race! Any idea on the ratings?
Tom, San Diego
RM: Only 156,000 people watched the restart after the red flag and there were 259,000 for the first 40 laps, so I imagine most of the viewers came from the West Coast since it was only 11 p.m. when the race ended.
Q: We were at Iowa Saturday night and had great time. Unfortunate on rain delay for fans, but was fun race in person when it started. I hope the race does return next year with sponsor. Do you think it will? I did bring two folks that had never been to any race before, I think they will return in future years. One upside to rain delay was running into Sage Karam during the delay. Very personable; hope he finds a full-time ride in future as well.
Ernie Strate, Des Moines, IA
RM: Yes I think it will return, and I just hope Iowa demands an 8 o’clock local start so it’s assured of being a night race. Sage is a good kid that just needs a good break.
Q: I just read your 4:30 a.m. musings on Iowa. I was among the fans who stuck it out, and I applaud IndyCar and Iowa Speedway for running the race into early Sunday morning. It was far from ideal, but Iowa is my favorite oval outside of Indy, and I stubbornly refused to drive back to Chicago having only seen the final practice on Friday (I safely arrived home just after 6 am after the race, and owe my safe return to Mountain Dew and a seemingly endless bag of dill pickle-flavored sunflower seeds).
I love IndyCar at Iowa, and I agree with the consensus of fans, drivers, and media that the 2020 Iowa 300 should start at or after 8 p.m. CDT like they do for Texas and Gateway. But here’s my question:
Not to pick on Iowa, but they have the same “You’re On Your Own” Severe Weather Procedures that are common at the Midwest ovals I regularly attend. I realize there isn’t much these racetracks can do compared to other pro sports venues (which themselves aren’t great; Chicago’s Soldier Field immediately comes to mind), but wouldn’t severe weather on race day for the 500 result in utter chaos if the best IMS can do is to direct people back to their vehicles? The signs say ‘Make a Plan’. I’d have a relatively short walk from J Stand to Lot 1B, but that’d still be a potential nightmare. What are your thoughts? Thanks for your hard work for our sport!
Andrew McNaughton, Chicago, IL
RM: I guess every track is different. At Detroit, they ordered fans off the island because of the lightning, and I think most places use video boards to tell the paying customers to take shelter and evacuate the grandstands. When the weather darts in and out like it did at Iowa it’s difficult to know what to tell people. But you’re a helluva fan, so thanks for hanging in there.
Q: You mentioned the low purse at Iowa and $35k for a premiere athlete? That’s what the 46th-place golfer at the British Open went home with. As die-hard fans, what can we do to help? I’ve got the NBC Gold Indy Pass. We watch every race. We went to Circuit of The Americas when Indy came to our town. Do we need more media (podcasts, blogs, etc?) Is Indy attractive enough for sponsors? Should I buy a luxury box for my clients at COTA instead of tickets for my friends? Would love to know your thoughts.
RM: That’s what the team earned, not Newgarden. There is nothing you can do, but thanks for your kind gesture. IMS and IndyCar have to find some money to make the purses not laughable, but I’m not holding my breath. And I had a couple fans say that the drivers make millions so who cares about the purse? A few drivers make a good living off salaries, but the mechanics get screwed by the Leader’s Circle and these paltry purses, in addition to the owners. The whole financial pyramid is upside down in IndyCar.
Q: Do you know if NASCAR has considered replacing the Brickyard 400 with a race on the road course if possible?
RM: I don’t know if NASCAR has, but I think IndyCar has made that suggestion. There is supposed to be an Xfinity test on the IMS road course but evidently Cup wouldn’t consider it because it would look like it failed on the oval. Which, of course, after a rousing start, it has.