Q: I live in Pittsburgh, grew up along I-80 near the PA/Ohio border (Youngstown) and date someone who lives near Williamsport, PA. I did not see one billboard, hear one commercial on the radio, see a commercial on TV or see any bus trips advertised at any of those three locations for the ABC 500. Those areas should have been peppered with marketing. While I am bummed the track is off the schedule, I cannot blame IndyCar when clearly the track does not try to get people to go. What can be done about the TV ratings, though? NBC can put anything on and get as good or better ratings than IndyCar. Sad when the Truck series gets better ratings.
RM: Mario admits he railed on Pocono for its poor promotion, and nobody where we were staying (15 minutes from the track) had a clue there was an IndyCar race, so I always chuckle when I hear Pocono promotes IndyCar just like it does NASCAR. Without proper promotion, you have Pocono instead of Gateway. As for TV ratings, I don’t have a clue because NBC promotes IndyCar during the week and on weekends during the NASCAR shows and races. Thanks to seven (eight with Laguna) races on NBC, the ratings are up overall from last year, but still way behind NASCAR.
Q: It’s time to get rid of the three-man booth. TB stepped all over PT during qualifying in Portland. PT couldn’t get a word in edgewise with Townsend Waltripping him. I wrote PT on Instagram asking when he was going to punch him in the mouth. I could tell he was getting frustrated. In some cases the telecast commentary are marginal at best. No one will ever beat Varsha, Hobbs, and Matchett. You had a PBP guy, a driver, and a mechanic. Anytime there are two drivers in the booth it becomes a race to first to say something. Waltrip destroyed Gordon in the booth. Waltrip destroyed everyone, so we all say that it’s just his personality. Anytime two or more people constantly talk over themselves during a broadcast, I mute the TV and turn on some music. Anyway, we’ll see ya at Seca. I’ll be wearing my Champ Car polo and Pacific Coast Motorsports hat.
Tom Ross, San Luis Obispo, CA
RM: I think TBell and P.T. do a good job of give and take, and sometimes they step on each other but that’s going to happen, and Leigh is a good traffic cop in that situation. I like the fact they both have strong opinions, seldom agree and have the knowledge to back up most of what they say. Alex Figge and his family – good people at PCM, and Ryan Dalzial was a good shoe.
Q: Due to some recent financial issues, I am unable to get have a TV provider to watch the IndyCar races. So I downloaded the IndyCar app and installed it on my phone to listen to the Portland race – talk about a pleasant surprise! This was exciting radio! The announcers were fantastic! They did a first-rate job of keeping the action and suspense going. They filled in the quiet moments of the race, when drivers are holding station until the next round of pit stops, with interesting facts that a true IndyCar fan would love. Their “Two Minutes with…” segment is very cool, giving a two-minute insight into one driver’s likes, dislikes, experiences, etc.
The app has the ability to follow a couple of drivers with in-car live video throughout the entire race. I could listen in to radio transmissions from the drivers to their pits, and also watch a live track map that shows where each car is on the track in relationship to the others. Just like being there! So although I missed the race on TV, I didn’t miss the action at all. Tell your readers to check it out and not wait until they get desperate.
RM: Good to hear, Sean. Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden and Dan Rusanowsky reporting from the pits, and they do a good job of keeping things lively and moving. I worked with Anders (and Kevin Lee) last May doing Indy 500 practice for NBC Gold and his analysis is excellent and he’s got a great sense of humor to boot. But I’ll deny I ever said that (smile).
Q: I watched some of the streams for the Road to Indy on YouTube from Portland and it reminded me of a glaring stat I discovered a while back. Hinchcliffe and Newgarden are the only two Indy Lights graduates from the last decade with more than one IndyCar win. Drivers like Herta and Rosenqvist could change this very soon, but both spent time in Europe before running Lights. I feel like there isn’t enough incentive for IndyCar owners to put money into young drivers when they can get European castoffs with a checkbook.
Outside of Andretti, no team has an established link between the lower series. Driver careers seem to stall due to a lack of an IndyCar seat, or the money runs out and we lose some legitimate talent to history (think Urrutia, and Anthony Martin). The scholarship program is a nice sentiment, but that only buys you so many races for a team at the back of the grid. Do you have any theories to why this is? Does IndyCar need to do more to promote these guys and girls? Any thoughts on ways to improve the crop of drivers coming up while keeping costs down?
RM: Well it would help if Penske and Ganassi believed in the ladder system and fielded cars, but they don’t so they like to get drivers with some seasoning like JoNew and Felix. IndyCar is a much cheaper option for Euro drivers so more and more are looking over here, but I think Rinus Veekay and Oliver Askew will be joining IndyCar next year, so even though the Road to Indy is slim in Lights, it still works if the talent is there. Throw in Pato O’Ward with Colton, and that’s four drivers (five, if you count Rosenqvist since he also ran some Lights races) that have graduated. I’d like to see more Americans like Aaron Telitz and Ryan Norman advance, but it takes money.