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

By

Q: Boy, that Marshall Pruett guy just sold me on this combination. They can do all the hybrid stuff they want, but please don’t mess with the sound. I am still like I was as a little boy walking around the Champaign County (IL) fairgrounds listening to Chevy V8s revving! I still get a big kick out of that in the garage area in May, and I will be loving it in three weeks at Gateway! Hope you are feeling good, as you are still looking good.

Phil Berg

RM: Thanks Phil, I felt much better after reading Marshall’s commentary because he explained the rationale behind this move and why it’s not going to change the racing or turn IndyCar into Formula E.

Q: I love that IndyCar is taking this step! Hybrid engines are on the rise in most passenger cars, so it clearly makes sense to have them in race cars. My question is the cost for the teams. I’m not sure how the engine lease program works now, but will the cost rise too much and possibly be too much for the smaller teams?

Brad Heuer, Coeurdalene, Idaho

RM: Jay Frye says: “Like we do with everything, economics are a very important element to all our initiatives. We will work to make sure the teams have viable options.”

Q: Hey Robin, just read about IndyCar’s new engines for 2022-27, and from what I’ve seen so far, I’m excited. The only major concern I have is the cost. Will low budget teams like Juncos, DragonSpeed, etc., still be able to run relatively competitive programs on their current budgets? (The same thing goes for IMSA’s DPi 2.0)

Ian from SC

RM: I think so, because Jay understands the budget dilemma facing his teams each season, and I’m sure he’ll try and put some kind of a price ceiling on it.

Q: Mid-Ohio was a great race as most of them have been the season, so I don’t have any complaints about the race, ticket prices, hotel prices or how much the NBC Sports Gold IndyCar Pass cost. What I would like to ask is where does IndyCar stand as for as other engine suppliers?

Jack, Ft Myers, FL

RM: I think we’re going to find out in the next couple months.

Jay Frye does not look too stressed about the third OEM situation. Image by Levitt/LAT.

Q: I’m going to shock you Robin by saying I have questions about hybrid announcement. Do you think MP’s idea for pit lane only use of the system on ovals could maybe be parlayed into standing starts for road/street races – 0-30mph on electric power only before the engine kicks in?  I believe the concern with the current formula and standing starts was how they affected the engines; that the engines weren’t really designed for it, and the possibility of stalling and cars being stuck going nowhere. If they get off the line with the hybrid, that could even see some of the mechanical failures we’ve seen on pit lane this year go away, right? (Thinking specifically of what happened to Will Power at COTA, which I believe has happened elsewhere this season).

Ryan in West Michigan

RM: I’m going to shock you, Ryan, and pass the ball to Marshall:

IndyCar engines do two or three standing starts every session when drivers launch from a standstill on pit lane, and do plenty more during the race. Love the idea for standing starts in stages – lots for the series to consider. If anything, the added torque being fed through the transmission would increase the risk of what happened to Power at COTA. I expect the 2022 gearboxes to be extra beefy with 800-1000hp planned and 50hp through KERS factored in.”

Q: Hybrids in IndyCar? What ever happened to “run what you brung”? Really? Seriously? Formula 1 has hybrids and I record the races and fast-forward through them, stopping only for pit stops and off-track issues. It is quite frankly boring. Who will develop this technology? Will it be universal for both Honda and Chevy… assuming they remain engine sponsors? I get they are trying to bring in more manufacturers, but there are no guarantees. Despite whatever promises are made up front someone (Roger, Michael or Chip) will get the early advantage and run away with it.

Beyond that, I have two other concerns. The first is that I personally don’t believe hybrid is the future of autos on the road, and second is that fuel cells seem to me to be the best long-term solution. Why not the IndyCar Fuel Cell 500? We already have the Corn Race and use ethanol. This season has been exciting and fun to watch. I have no problems watching any IndyCar race from start to finish, but can’t do an entire F1 or Formula E race. Why are they screwing with something that is finally starting to work?

Congrats to the whole gang at NBC on a great job this season, and whomever wins the championship will have earned a well-deserved victory. Glad to see you back on TV and looking well. Thanks for all the inside info.

Tom Patrick, Lake Arrowhead, CA

RM: Run what ya brung died with the advent of engine leases, and yes, both engine manufacturers (and maybe a third) will develop their own system (which I imagine appeals to them in our spec world). I have no idea whether hybrids are the future of road cars, but it’s pretty obvious it’s the future for motorsports engine manufacturers. And why would anyone think this is going to disrupt the good, close racing? Yes there will be a new car in 2022, but it’s not going to be a radical departure from today’s Dallara. And the engines will have more power, but all we can’t foresee is if they’ll be as close as they have been the past few years. Thanks for watching NBC.

More RACER