Q: I think there are two key points to the Mid-Ohio race, one being very positive, and one negative. First the negative. These late starts on Sunday afternoons are getting ridiculous. It takes close to an hour to get out of the track on a good day, from past experience. Factor in that some fans are coming from four-plus hours away and have to work the following day, it makes things far too difficult. I wish more would take Road America’s approach and dictate a 12:30 local start to enable fans that are driving from a distance away to be able to get home at a reasonable time.
Now, the positive. I think Firestone deserves a large amount of credit and praise for how exciting the race was, especially when you factor in the fall-off that drivers encountered on the reds during extended runs. Also, kudos to the Ganassi team for giving Rosenqvist the green light to challenge Dixon in the final laps. Add to that Rossi’s struggles and Newgarden’s shunt at the end, you couldn’t script a more dramatic weekend. I think this is going to be an exciting one as it comes down to the wire.
Alan Bandi, Sarver, PA
RM: I totally agree with you – all races not on NBC should start no later than 2 p.m. – and show them on tape-delay for NBCSN. But in this case, because of the Tour de France, the NBC slot was 4-6 p.m. and national television is important for IndyCar, so a couple of late starts a year can’t be helped. But it sucks for the paying customers, and I don’t blame anyone for not attending a 4 o’clock start. Firestone has been helping the racing for many years with its primary and alternate tires, and Mid-Ohio was another good example.
Q: Was at Mid-Ohio this weekend and something stood out to me while watching Marco’s car being worked on in the paddock before the race. They have been having electrical gremlins it seems all season, and I saw a Honda engineer spending lots of time with the laptop hooked up to his car and running tests. Not that I am a counselor or anything (I am, haha), but the crew’s body language just looked kinda defeated. What’s going on with that team? It’s almost like they have quit on the season and are almost just an in-season test driver right now… collecting data for Rossi and Hunter-Reay. Either that, or something is up. With Herta maybe being available, do you see him staying with Andretti and maybe Marco stepping out of the car except Indy like Carpenter, or do you see him going to McLaren?
Lastly, a great observation from Mid-Ohio was that just like at COTA this year, where I also went, seeing lots more young fans… kids… teens… coming to the events and bringing their friends. Even more people wearing driver gear, too. Great, great sign in my opinion, so tell the brains trust at IndyCar that what they are doing to change demographics is working.
Michael Lewis, Center, Ohio
RM: Nobody can pinpoint what’s wrong with Marco, but I can assure you his team hasn’t given up and his problems aren’t engine-related. I think Michael wants to keep Colton in the family and will do whatever he can. Good to hear more young people are showing up, but it just seems like road and street races – not ovals.
Q: I have never done something called binge drinking, but this past weekend I tried “Binge IndyCar Racing”. I drove to Mid-Ohio and attended Friday’s IndyCar practice. Then driving back to Charlotte on Sunday, I listened to the IndyCar radio broadcast. Finally, I just finished watching the TV broadcast. Here are some observations: Wow, what a race! A few months ago you wrote a column on what makes a great race. We now can say the definition of a great race is the IndyCars at Mid-Ohio 2019. The racing was fast, furious and non-stop. And it didn’t matter if it was drivers battling for the lead, or Marco and Sato battling for 14th at the end of the race.
This was by far the best IndyCar race I have seen at Mid-Ohio, and I have watched all of them since 1980. And being there on Friday reminded me of why fans attend races: the sound and the speed. There is nothing like it in all of sports. And hats off to Mid-Ohio for continuing to have the finest road race facility in the country.
Finally, I used to be a big advocate for bringing back the days of innovation, of having multiple chassis and designs like the CART days. But IndyCar has come up with an incredible package that is producing the best racing in motorsports, and where the driver still makes a difference. Please IndyCar, remember this one thing: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Rick Schneider, Charlotte, N.C.
RM: Sounds like a potential game show hosted by Drew Carey – attend, listen and watch. You are a super fan Rick, and you’ve been writing to the Mailbag for as long as I’ve had it and I value your opinion. I think you are spot-on – a helluva race, and these cars and engines make for the best competition ever, with a nice assist from the drivers. IndyCar will have new cars and engines in 2022, but hopefully not have any drop-off in the best show going.