Q: Good morning Robin, AT&T/DirecTV have stopped airing NBC on their cable line-up. There is a dispute that’s been going on since July 3rd. DirecTV has been disappointing over the years, so I took this opportunity to purchase YouTubeTV for $50/month. I can now watch live or recorded IndyCar from my TV, tablet or smartphone. I love it!
RM: Thanks for the update Darryl, I’ve got DirecTV but still have NBC and NBCSN so not sure what’s going on with your hookup, but glad you found an option.
Q: Is it just me, or does IndyCar seem fixated on having only 17 races per year, no more? I’m just confused by the comments of Pocono’s Nick Idalsky saying that they want IndyCar back, but apparently it’s been complete silence from IndyCar’s side. At the same time we read reports that Richmond will probably be added to the schedule (which is great, love that track). One step forward and one step back, it seems. It just seems to me that if a track wants your series to race (and an oval track at that), you go. What am I missing?
RM: I believe IndyCar would like to have 20 races a year, but they can’t all be road courses or street circuits in order to keep the series the most diverse in motorsports, so keeping ovals is obviously desired but tricky because it’s a hard sell for a promoter.
Q: It’s Year 3 for Gateway/WWT and I was wondering how ticket sales have been, and if the momentum from the last couple of years is continuing? I know Gateway revised some of its seating and ticketing, and was curious how it’s been received by the paying customer? Also, track was repaved last year. How is the newer surface holding up, and is Gateway laying some rubber down to get a second groove in the turns?
Tulsa IndyCar Fan
RM: A comprehensive update from Gateway GM Chris Blair:
“I’m happy to report that ticket sales are going very well and it looks like we are on pace to meet and possibly exceed last year’s number. Our new naming rights sponsor, World Wide Technology, is actively involved with the event this year and the enthusiasm from their employees is really showing. To be totally transparent, we are down on some of the team hospitality programs this year (which I think having COTA and Laguna as new events this year may be a contributor to that), so when you factor in where we are on sales it shows that MORE of the ticket buying public are coming. We’ve had a lot of calls from people who are waiting to see the weather forecast, so we expect to see a lot of people hop off the fence and come to our race.
“The revised seating has been very well received once people started seeing the value of all they get if they buy the Checkered Flag Club package. The bus trips from IMS are really becoming popular, and a lot of people from areas such as Dayton, Detroit, Cincy are driving to IMS to hop on. It’s a good program and there’s a big push on radio in Indy right now to grab more people. I have a few surprises to announce later this week and early next week that fans will like. We are placing more emphasis on giving the best show of any oval. Stay tuned for those ‘extras.’
“As far as the asphalt, we are very happy with it and it’s doing well. The quality of racing keeps getting better. I know The Mailbag is about IndyCar, but I just got some notes from NASCAR regarding our Truck event in June. From 2017 (last year of old pavement) to 2018 (first year of new pavement for them) we had an increase of three lead changes and an increase of 183 passes under green (484 vs. 667). This year, the second time for them on the pavement, we doubled the number of green lead changes from 8 to 16 and the total number of green flag passes increased from 667 to 866! That’s an increase of 382 passes under green in two years.
“Thanks to Cara Adams at Firestone we have a shipment of tires coming and Kurt Johnson of Total Venue Concepts is going to wear out multiple sets on the high side to get that groove brought in. We are taking the same approach we took to the Truck race where we had lots of three-wide racing taking place. In addition, we are going to drag the track with Firestone rubber just prior to the start of the IndyCar event so that the track is groomed perfectly to give drivers some grip and the fans a show.”
Q: I was just up with my wife and son at the Wisconsin State Fair this past Friday. To park the car we got to drive the track starting between Turn 1 and Turn 2, down the back straight and then into the infield around Turn 3. What great memories of IndyCar races from just the first decade of the 2000s. Highlights for me: Danica punch-pushing Dan Wheldon because he cut her off in the race, Helio and Sam Hornish’s rear wings breaking in the race because Penske tried to work his famous unfair advantage with the mounting brackets, and one of my favorites, actually watching in person a young Graham Rahal in the Newman Haas McDonald’s car try to chase down Dixon and Dario – I think in 2010?
Anyway, as we were eating fried everything at the Fair, I had this thought: is there actually a better place for a combined NASCAR/IndyCar weekend than the Milwaukee Mile? Yes I know it’s easy as a race fan to have pipe dreams, but think about it. Perhaps one of the few oval venues in the country that can offer the atmosphere of a street circuit. With support series you could have cars running around there all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I live on the north side of Chicago and it is faster for me to get to Milwaukee than Joliet/Chicagoland Speedway. Plenty of industry and brands in that corridor between northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Throw in Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and all of the other 100k population cities within 4-5 hours drive, and you’ve got the makings of a big winner at the box office. The track looked terrible admittedly, so I’m sure there would be a big investment needed, but the grandstands are still there and it’s a crime that Belle Isle ever replaced that track on the schedule.
RM: Unless Bob Sargent (who promoted the ARCA race earlier this summer) decides to invest a fortune in what’s left of our beloved oval there is no interest that I know of, and NASCAR is going to give Gateway or Iowa a race long before it would ever consider Milwaukee. Plus, State Fair Park isn’t nearly big enough to accommodate all the NASCAR and IndyCar transporters and hospitality. Just watch your old Dick Wallen videos, because that’s as close as we’re ever going to get to another IndyCar race at Milwaukee.