Robin Miller's Mailbag for August 7, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for August 7, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for August 7, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: Why such an abrupt announcement for hybrids coming to IndyCar? I love what Jay Frye is doing for the series. He’s been able to execute well thought-out plans while building consensus with the paddock along the way. But from a fan perspective, this particular announcement seemed like a 180. Since this will dictate the next generation of the sport, this decision shouldn’t be flip-flopped over. It gives me the impression this decision had to be made by the series but was not wanted to be made. It seems like this came as a direct result of OEMs’ chilly reception to the proposed 2021 (now 2022) engine formula.

Rob Peterson, Rochester, NY

RM: I think you answered your own question, Rob. Of course it was a result of not being able to attract a third OEM and, as Marshall wrote, it’s about good business and trying to stay current while not losing your identity.

Q: I’ll start off by saying I’m not a fan of the hybrid idea. Why not look at creating an engine similar to ARCA’s Ilmor package? That sounds a lot cheaper to the manufacturers and the teams then spending all that money to develop an engine to outpace the other manufacturers. Make the cars V8s again, too – more displacement would allow for easier access to those higher horsepower numbers. I’d say very few people actually care if it’s a hybrid, turbocharged, supercharged, or naturally aspirated engine, they just want to see good racing. So why not develop a common high horsepower engine and save all the manufacturers money? I highly doubt anything they develop for the IndyCar engine will be that beneficial for street car purposes. They will tell you it is, but more then likely it’s not.

Travis M.

RM: I, again, defer to my smarter half and technical guru, Mr. Pruett:

“If IndyCar wanted a simple ARCA-style motor, that’s what they would have done. Since they didn’t, we can assume they have what they believe is best. Keep in mind that manufacturers use IndyCar, rather than ARCA, to promote technology and vehicle sales, so there’s no comparison to be made. We already have good racing and it isn’t changing. I wish I understood how or why the addition of a 50hp electric boost has been received by some as the end of the world, the death of IndyCar, etc. An extra 50hp is being tacked onto the current push-to-pass system, and instead of turbo boost, it’s made by an electric energy recovery and deployment system. It’s really, really simple to grasp.”

Q: Please tell me this is in response to pretty much having a third OEM lined up and not just a shot in the dark hoping this works to attract one? Could really be exciting.

Don Weidig

RM: It wouldn’t surprise me if Jay had someone waiting in the wings, but nothing I’ve heard of yet.

The arrival of hybrids doesn’t mean the departure of noise. Image by Miller/LAT.

Q: Gotta say, with the recent momentum gains, I’m ecstatic with the recent engine formula announcement! Not only will this provide an opportunity for other OEMs to take a look at IndyCar, it should also open up sponsorship opportunities for teams, drivers and the series itself. I’m curious, what is the cost of running a DPi versus an IndyCar program? I’m thinking maybe some manufacturers could decide that with the larger exposure for IndyCar versus IMSA, IndyCar may be the better opportunity.

Vincent Martinez, South Pasadena, CA

RM: Take it away, Marshall: “I spoke with a successful DPi team owner last month who told me his budget this year is identical to a competitive $6 million IndyCar budget. I’m not sure the spec KERS systems will be the thing that brings more money to the paddock, but as I’ve implored Jay Frye to do with the 2022 chassis rules, if the series keeps the chassis/data electronics open, rather than spec, there’s a huge range of opportunities to engage with all the major mobile phone and tablet manufacturers to create wraparound dash displays, mini networks within each car, etc., and connect cars to the devices that drive our personal and professional lives. The worst thing IndyCar could do is go spec once again with its chassis (not engine) electronics/data systems and kill Fortune 100 companies from engaging with directly with teams – Samsung, Google, Apple.”

Q: Dare I even say the word, Robin? Are you OK? Hope you’re breathing again! Did you see this coming? It is/was inevitable with the way the industry/world is heading, sadly. But maybe it is a good thing if it helps keep the series relevant and will attract another OEM or two to the series! Along with the youngsters!

Tony Mezzacca, Madison, NJ

RM: I’m fine. IndyCar engines are still going to make that lovely noise we all like, and it’s evidently what is necessary to get another player.

Q: I just read Marshall Pruett’s column on IndyCar and hybridization, and even though I’m not a big fan of ‘modernization’ (bring back the original Can-Am!), I wholeheartedly agree it’s time. I just have to wonder, with both IMSA and IndyCar taking a very similar approach to this, has anyone considered the two of them getting together to agree on a ‘standard unit’ for both series?

If they are both trying to attract (or keep) the same group of manufactures, wouldn’t that make sense? Heck, if IMSA could fit the new 2.4 Indy engine into one of their prototype classes, you could have the same basic ‘powerpack’ for either series – or both! I don’t know how well the folks at IndyCar and IMSA get along, but it sure couldn’t hurt to offer manufacturers the ability to run in two series with the same power units.  What do you and Marshall think?

Eric Roberts, Quitman, TX

RM: I think I’ll ask Marshall: “From what I’ve learned, they have spoken on KERS. Where things get tough is in the number of potential vendors (almost a dozen) which might meet different needs for a small open-wheel installation and a bigger lots-of-space-to-mount-things DPi. IMSA’s DPi rules allow custom engines, so a 2.4-liter TTV6 IndyCar engine could be used, but it’s built to a different level of power and expectations; IMSA’s about 24 hours and 650hp; the 2022 IndyCar units are about 800hp and 12-15 hours of use before rebuild.”