Q: Just wondering what you think of more sports car races on same weekend as IndyCar? Thank you, always enjoy the Mailbag and your TV work!
RM: I’ve always been a big advocate of IMSA/IndyCar doubleheaders like we have at Long Beach and Detroit. That should be a no-brainer at Laguna Seca and Portland as well. And The Glen. Maybe the new IMSA boss will see the value of having people in the grandstands when they race, but the sports car teams seem to enjoy sharing the weekend.
Q: That schedule has some serious breaks in it. I feel like we need a few more races, we’re definitely growing and it takes time. Do you think a doubleheader finale at the Charlotte Roval will ever become a reality? I think Humpy Wheeler would say yes if he were still in the mix. Shoot, bring some sports cars along and run some dirt cars on the Charlotte dirt track. I feel like racing series should do more to work together. The fans win, they get a great return on their entertainment dollars. Both series win by possibly attracting new fans. I’ll happily drive down from West Michigan for this show.
RM: To answer your first question: god I hope not. That’s a chicken $%$# layout and I doubt it would be much of a race. Let’s just let NASCAR keep it and concentrate on a NASCAR/IndyCar double dip at an oval like Kentucky, Chicago or Gateway.
Q: We read virtually nothing post-Beau Barfield (now in IMSA) about IndyCar Race Control and the officiating team, or its members? Hard for me to believe that all of the different owner-personalities would be happy with officiating.
Tom Fitzgerald, CPA
RM: Depends on what week you asked. Arie Luyendyk and Max Papis call the shots with Kyle Novak and Jay Frye observing and breaking ties and helping with the rulebook when needed. But racing is like baseball, the less you hear from the umpire the better, and I do think Race Control has attempted to let drivers race and not nickel and dime them with calls. But there really haven’t been many controversies in the past couple years, and all the drivers want are consistent calls. And I think Kyle has tried to keep the races as green as possible.
Q: Went to the tin-top race at Dover on Saturday. I know IndyCar will never go back there and it’s probably for the best, but do you have any good stories from the two IRL trips there? Went to my first live race at Dover in 1997 for the Busch series. Unfortunately at the time, I did not follow IndyCar so I always kick myself for missing those two ‘90s IRL races.
Matt from Phoenixville, PA
RM: The only thing I recall is the quote from A.J. It was 90-some degrees and there couldn’t have been 5,000 people in attendance and they asked Super Tex about the lack of a crowd. His reply? “You’d have to be a goddamn idiot to sit out in this heat on those aluminum bleachers.” And that’s why we love him.
Q: Now that the IndyCar season has ended (way too soon in my ever-so-modest opinion), an old-timer’s thoughts began to wander toward an increased schedule. By chance I happened to read about a NASCAR track in Alaska and it struck me that IndyCar should be exploring possible venues to explore for future race dates. When Portland returned to the schedule I thought it was great, since no other national racing sanctioning body is represented in that area. And then I began to think about possible venues and came upon Hawaii – which, coincidentally enough, actually wants to build a racing facility on Oahu, and has signed a bill which funds a racing facility authorization there.
So, here’s my question(s): How does IndyCar go about finding racing venues? Does it wait for the phone call from a potential venue, or does IndyCar become proactive in a search for venues? Does IndyCar think about being in markets that are underrepresented by big-time auto racing before NASCAR gets to them? Should they search out such places? I think IndyCar should have a presence in North America, specifically more races in Canada and a race in Mexico, and in places where there’s no current big-time auto racing and which is pretty much overlooked by big-time national sports in general. Make IndyCar the only game in town and lock in fans for life.
Jake, Pasadena, CA
RM: Stephen Starks puts the schedule together, so let’s ask him:
When it comes to building the NTT IndyCar Series schedule, we try to take a more proactive approach than a ‘wait to see who comes to us’ strategy. It does tend to be the case that when we want to be in a certain market, we are soon approached by a prospect in that market, which means that prospective promoters and city leaders also are in tune with our regional and type of racing needs, which is good news. The market and type of circuit-oval, road, or street- are important factors we consider, and we are always aiming to make our schedule as diverse in those respects as possible.
But it is not easy, as we have to be cognizant of other events in a market, the geographical proximity a venue has to other events on our schedule, and weather patterns during certain times of year, to name a few. It truly is a puzzle, but we work hard to develop the best schedule we can each year for our fans and teams. Of course, we keep an eye on where NASCAR and F1 race and what challenges or opportunities their schedules create. And, yes, we would like another strong event in Canada and one in Mexico, and over the past few years, we have discussed possibilities with key officials essential to the organization of events in certain cities in those countries, so we will see what the future holds.
Thanks again for your support, and please reach out any time.
VP, Promoter and Media Partner Relations