Q: In the paddock at the “Roar before the 24” at Dayton last January, I saw Katherine Legge and Michael Shank together. A day earlier, she had signed her 2012 Indy 500 diecast for me and one of her hats for my wife. I approached them again and I asked Mr. Shank, “Isn’t it about time that you put your real IndyCar driver into the 500?” They both laughed and Mike said, “That sounds like a wonderful idea.” As we have been Katherine’s longtime fans who “sweated bullets” after her excursion at Road America, we would love to see her in a competitive IndyCar. What can her fans do to make this happen? A write-in campaign for us seniors, or social media terror for younger folks who understand how to that?
Dick & Sue Hildebrand, Ormond Beach, FL
RM: Buy lottery tickets or start a campaign to raise $750,000, and Ms. Legge would be in business.
Q: There’s a simple solution for Erik Steinbrecher’s complaint in last week’s Mailbag about lack of information during the races. They’re called scanner radios. I bought one for about $150. It’s programmable by computer. When I take mine to the track, it has all of the team’s frequencies, plus track PA, TV and radio, and even the event management radio frequencies. I guarantee he’ll have more information at his fingertips than he’ll know what to do with. I wear cellphone-type earbuds, and cover those with sound protection earmuffs so that car noise won’t interfere. Works anywhere on the track. Works for all the major series, including IndyCar and NASCAR. I never attend a race without it.
Interesting to see Alonso’s name come up again. We (my wife and I, plus a close friend who’s a major Alonso fan.) attended this year’s Indy 500 specifically to watch him race, so when he was bumped in qualifying, you can imagine our supreme disappointment. We weren’t the only ones. There were a lot of people in the stands wearing Alonso and McLaren colors. The Monday after the race, we visited the museum to see the Andretti exhibit, and ran into a gentleman who’d come all the way from Italy to watch Alonso race. Michael needs to get together with Honda, and work something out to put him in a competitive car. Or switch to Chevy.
Dave Gawboy, Rosemount, MN
RM: Thanks for those tips. As you know by now, Michael is staying with Honda, so no Fernando.
Q: I found the question from George S and your answer in last week’s Mailbag very thought-provoking, so no question this time, just some comments. I started going to IndyCar races 55 years ago and will always be a fan, but lately I have also been watching Formula E. I agree with Gary that the cars look cool, are fast, and the stands are full. Electrification means the cars don’t stall out when they spin, and the bodywork allows some bumping and rubbing without disaster ensuing, so the racing is video game-like — non-stop action.
Solving the problems of making electric cars viable for all the types of tracks IndyCars race on including The Speedway will require the innovation that the fans want. The car industry has started to spend the billions of dollars that this new technology will require. That is why so many manufacturers are involved in Formula E — to pursue cutting-edge technology that will then filter down to the road cars and be powerful advertising just like the old days.
People who say kids today don’t care about cars are just talking about the wrong kind of cars. They have not seen the knowledge and excitement anyone under age 25 has about Teslas, which are designed and built right here in the USA. The U.S. is leading the world into this new technology, and IndyCar is an American series that has a chance to be part of the future; they should do it. The alternative is watching the series get ever smaller as the fan base (like me) fades from the scene.
Pete in Tucson
RM: I’m the wrong person to pitch this to, Pete. Silent IndyCars? Just shoot me. And I don’t think today’s fans care that much about innovation, but obviously all those manufacturers in Formula E do.
Q: Robin, thanks for shining the spotlight on a couple of great racers. K.O. and Sammy showed that there is still some life in the old lions. Who is the oldest you can remember ever winning in a midget? I remember seeing ARDC shoes Len Duncan, Dutch Schaefer and Russ Klar, to name a few, racing well into their 70s, and winning… Klar in modifieds at Islip, too. For me, the good ol’ days of racing. Hope you’re well. Keep it coming…
Jim Mulcare, Westbury, NY
RM: Probably Mel Kenyon when he was in his 70s (maybe at The Speedrome), and I know Ralphie The Racer Ligouri ran a midget at that age too, just not sure if he won.
Q: Robin, hope you’re doing well, I have four years being cancer-free, keep fighting. I have been a racing fan for 50 years. I have been to all sorts of venues, from IndyCar to NASCAR, any and all dirt tracks.
One of my memories from going to Laguna (started going in 1970) and Long Beach (first 10 years) was walking through the paddock area. You used to be able to walk up to a team hauler and watch the guys work. Saturday afternoon was the best; you could see which team was scurrying to find a race setup and see the ones who were happy with their set-up.
I would walk through the whole pit area and check all the teams. It was cool to see the cars being torn apart and final setups installed. You could see the car up close. Now they all are tented up and you can’t see anything. I always think about the young kids wandering through and not being able to see what the car actually is. I think if they opened it up for everyone to see, it would get the younger audience a little more excited about going to more races. One of the reasons I quit going to see IndyCars race in person (IMSA also) is that there was no interaction. It was like walking through a ghost town. I say, open up the haulers and let everyone see the real experience. Yes, I get that they don’t want other teams to see setups and it is a pain for the crews to deal with questions from fans, but think of all the kids going back to their friends and talking up the experience. Just my thoughts.
Second, there are some very young talented midget and sprint car pilots all over the U.S. Every time I read an article about them, the end is always the same. They all say I want to race in NASCAR – hardly a peep about IndyCars. Sad to hear. Some one these kids would set IndyCar on its ear. I wish there was a better system to get some of them switched to IndyCar. Thanks for all your dedication for IndyCar, we need more people preaching.
RM: Stars like Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell were locked into NASCAR because Ganassi, Toyota and Kyle Busch came running and nobody in IndyCar even knew they existed as teenagers. Chip had a good talent scout, that’s why he got Larson. USAC drivers know that NASCAR still has some paying rides, while IndyCar would be about bringing money from Lights all the way to Indianapolis. But you can still get great access to the cars and drivers in the IndyCar paddock. Nothing like it in NASCAR or F1.