Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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Q: What is it about Turn 1 at Portland that makes normally smart, even-tempered drivers suddenly turn into Truck Series rookies with one to go? Does the run-off area invite aggression by providing an easy out? The last couple of years were reminiscent of turn one at the old Cleveland GP circuit.

Keane Horner

RM: Oh yeah, when you have a straightaway that wide and that long that goes from 175 mph to 40 mph, you are inviting trouble. There is an easy out on the left if nobody hits you before then, but I think it’s more a case of drivers always thinking they can out-brake each other before realizing they’re in too deep. Cleveland at least had a wide, sweeping corner where you could avoid each other, but still featured some multi-car wrecks.

Q: What a bunch of whiners!!  Keep Portland’s Turn 1! Instead of whining about it, shouldn’t they be whining about the idiotic, immature, and rookie move that Rahal made? IndyCar fans love the flying start, and how exciting is it to drop from 175 down to 35 to make that turn. It is all part of their race strategy. We all knew it was coming, they even had a segment about Turn 1. So you would think everyone would control themselves and let it play out. None of us thought Rahal would be driving a dragster into Turn 1. Just get over it and move on. It’s all part of racing. And I love IndyCar!

Patrick, Texas

RM: Sometimes it’s necessary to try and protect the drivers from themselves, if possible.

In years to come, scientists will discover that the apex of Turn 1 at Portland has a stronger gravitational pull than any other place on earth, and then everything will start to make sense. Image by Levitt/LAT

Q: Starts/restarts have always been especially crucial. Or in simpler terms, cars often crash during them. Hey, Randy Bernard pushed for double-file restarts to improve the show. However, there’s a time when it becomes pointless. It’s disappointing to see your favorite driver complete barely a thousandth of the scheduled distance. Some say we need wider straights, wider corners, wider runoff areas. Some want need faster starts/restarts, some want them slower, some want standing starts. I disagree with all of them. The perfect to prevent Turn 1 carnages is to copy the Indianapolis 500 start rules, where there’s a big gap between rows. OK, perhaps not so big. But current starts and restarts have ridiculously small gaps between rows, and that’s what causes chaos. Just tell drivers to keep a 15-yard gap between rows, and problem solved.

Ignacio, Uruguay

RM: That’s been suggested, but you still have the accordion affect at Portland and, as I’ve often said, just look at the mob as it roared into Turn 1 at Indy in the ’50s or ’60s with everyone on top of each other and nobody ever crashed. But the consequences were much more severe back then, and there was a respect factor that doesn’t exist today.

Q: IndyCar would never let these wreck-fest starts happen at their (well-manicured) Indy 500, so they shouldn’t let them happen for the other races. They keep getting worse and are seriously out of control. In order to minimize the current vehicle carnage, at the start and re-start of IndyCar races, I have proposed that IndyCar require that each row of starting cars maintain their starting formation (row separation and speed) until each individual row crosses the start/finish line. Maybe some of the Good Ol’ Boys think the ongoing wrecks are part of racing; but owners and sponsors may be having second thoughts, about remaining in such a costly series!

It’s certainly having a devastating impact on driver and team standings. Social media haters may like wreck-fests and track-bashing; but it’s ruining IndyCar! How about giving my proposal a try at Laguna Seca, to possibly improve (and restore “racing” to) the closing race of the season? If we get a better race there, then next year’s races might garner more participation by owner and sponsor boardrooms! That should be better for the health of IndyCar, than the ongoing hate rants in social media. Think about it.

Bill in CA

RM: I don’t think many IndyCar fans go to races to see crashes, and they don’t jump up and cheer when a car is flipping or crashing. And in all fairness, IndyCar drivers have been pretty good about starting races the past couple years. Pocono and Portland, obviously, are the exceptions but even Indy had its moments in 1964, 1966 and 1973. I’m always amazed everyone usually gets through Turn 1 at tight places like Toronto or Long Beach, but drivers seem to recognize the parameters. Portland tempts you to take a chance.

Q: Any realistic chance Tony Kanaan gets his farewell tour in 2020? Or are we seeing it this year, and he’ll be Indy-only next year? Our whole family loves TK, but seems like a lot of good young blood out there right now for anyone to sign a 45-year-old used-to-be, even for a year. (And I know the Foyt cars aren’t great, but I think his underachievement at CGR is talking louder.) Thanks for all you do for our sport!

Bo Williams, Madison, AL

RM: Not sure where T.K. would go if he doesn’t return to Foyt, but my advice to him would be go out and find the best ride possible for Indianapolis and make that your farewell race. He’s still the most popular driver in the field and deserves a nice sendoff for his career, and what better place than IMS?

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