Q: I know I’m not the only one wondering this, but how does the safety team extricate a driver with the new shield bolted to the cockpit? It’s not like the safety truck can pull up and someone produce a drill gun, right? There really hasn’t been any footage demonstrating a mock rescue yet, at least that I’m aware of. I’m all for the screen on IndyCars and anything that will potentially save lives.
I don’t get armchair critics that have the mentality that it ruins the esthetics, or even the appeal of the sport. Drivers are not expendable! They shouldn’t be viewed as such by anyone, period. I noticed after Pocono wasn’t renewed for 2020 that some people were annoyed that Sage Karam, Robert Wickens and others spoke out about safety. That race was cancelled for reasons not having to do with the Sato crash, Wickens’ catastrophic accident, nor Justin Wilson’s death. It might have looked like a knee-jerk reaction to some when Richmond replaced Pocono, but the wheels were in motion on that event before the 2019 race took place.
What do you think of fans who think drivers that speak out about safety but don’t have the talent or balls to be in the sport? I’m sick and tired of people thinking if a driver doesn’t want to run ovals or is concerned about a certain track or safety in general, that they should move on and let someone else who is eager to run no matter what take their place.
I also feel strongly that anyone who shares my view on safety is right and not a “snowflake” that should stop watching IndyCar, as one forum participant recently called me. I’m happy to be called one and have been watching IndyCar in person and on television for 26 years. During that time I’ve seen enough fatalities that may not have turned out this way had the aeroscreen been present.
Geoff Roberts, Unionville, Canada
RM: Tim Baughman and the AMR team have been involved with the development since day one, and it should not be an issue. As for anyone questioning the bravery of driving into a corner at 225 mph, well, their opinion really doesn’t count. But Pocono not being renewed had nothing to do with the track being unsafe or the drivers refusing to race there. Justin’s tragedy could have happened anywhere, and Robert was simply the victim of high speed, high G-forces and a violent landing. But it could, and has, happened at Indianapolis, and to think Sebastien Bourdais survived his near head-on crash at IMS is testament to Dallara, the SAFER wall and that gutsy guy who climbed back in the next May.
Q: The new windscreen/Halo looks odd as we have never seen them on an IndyCar before, but let’s give it a chance. If it saves a life, then I’m all for it. Maybe then next redesign of the IndyCar will incorporate the windscreen/halo better.
RM: It’s pretty ugly head-on, but doesn’t look bad from the side – at least the Penske car didn’t at IMS when it was running. But I’m sure we’ll all get used to it, and if the racing continues to be good, we probably won’t be talking about it in a year.
Q: OK, Robin, I’ve been an open-wheel fan since 1967 when I saw (and met) Dan Gurney racing the Eagle F1 car. Later met A.J., Mario, all the Unsers, J.R., and all the drivers since 1986. So what I’m about to say pains me, but here it is: the 2020 IndyCar is just fugly. The aeroscreens essentially render the car to be no longer an open-wheel car! The only way it could be uglier is if still had those absurd and childlike rear bumpers from a few years back. Hate to say it, but this could be a 52-year-old deal breaker for me.
David Lind, Alexandria, LA
RM: Head-on it’s tough to look at it, but it still has open wheels and looks OK from the side, and as long as it races well, I think we’ll accept it. Nothing looks as good as a Watson roadster from the early ’60s but we all had to move on, so I hope you reconsider.
Q: All of this hate for the new IndyCar aeroscreen. Robin, in your memory, how many people would have been saved injury with it? Could have saved Wheldon, would have saved Wilson, [would have] helped Alex Peroni in my opinion…and then Felipe Massa’s fractured skull.
RM: Certainly could have helped Dan, but the piece that killed Justin came in like a mortar so the aeroscreen probably wouldn’t have done any good. I think people hate how it makes the car look, but they don’t hate the fact it could save a driver’s life.
Q: Just read your article on IndyCar’s ratings and have a few comments. First, I agree with Mark Miles, you should not be going against football. I would conclude the IndyCar season the weekend of Labor Day, but start it in February with a few more races before the Indy 500. While I know that this year the Olympics is the cause for the three-week break in August, it’s insanity that there is such a gap. June, July and August are your prime months for staging races, optimal for the promoter, TV and most importantly the fans.
Second, with regard to Milwaukee, I did not see Chicago on your top list of markets. I know Chicago viewers have more to distract them in terms of hometown sports viewing than many of the markets listed. I would offer up that the last attempts to make Milwaukee successful failed in large part to a lack of marketing in the Chicago area. I do not remember ads or billboards for those races, but I have seen them for Elkhart. In Milwaukee’s heyday, there would always be TV ads leading up to the race for “The Mile, The Mile, The Milwaukee Mile” (still remember the catch phrase from the ’80s and ’90s, thank you Carl Haas), in the Chicago area. If you want to be successful with either of the two races in Wisconsin, you must not forget the Chicago market. Please reach out to Road America and let us know how many of their tickets and campsites are sold to people in Illinois.
Bob Rundgren, Villa Park, IL
RM: The desire would be to start earlier and finish on Labor Day, but right now there aren’t a lot of options in this country to start in January or February because of the weather. Chicago is key to getting an IndyCar crowd and that’s why George Bruggenthies demanded Road America start early on a Sunday, so he could draw those Windy City fans and get them home at a decent hour.