Q: I have an idea and job for the IndyCar marketing department. If they don’t take your suggestion for promoting the series at the Chili Bowl, how about heading east instead. There is this with midget races in Allentown, Atlantic City, Trenton and Syracuse from Jan-March starting next year. We know there are a lot race fans in those regions, and wouldn’t this be a great place to market the series, set up a booth and hand out items before the season kicks off? Sure it’s not the Chili Bowl, but it’s a start. Those cities/markets didn’t crack the top 10 for IndyCar ratings per your article this week. Additionally, does IndyCar have a presence at the SEMA show which is next month?
Rick from Michigan
RM: I got a better idea: IndyCar should do them both. I think Marco tested a quarter midget in AC a few years ago and that’s a natural promotion. SEMA is full of racers so that doesn’t do IndyCar any good – it needs new fans and the Chili Bowl is how you could make some.
Q: Hey Robin, I’m sure you have noticed (haha) that Indiana has legalized sports betting. Don’t you think IndyCar and IMS should embrace it and push to be involved? Vegas and gambling websites hang odds for the Indy 500 but never for any other IndyCar race, whereas NASCAR is easily bettable every weekend in various formats (a driver to win a race, one guy to beat another, someone to win the championship). F1 is also popular with options such as betting the driver with the fastest lap.
Can you imagine sitting at Indy (or any other IndyCar race in a gambling-legal state) with a bet on the first driver out of the race, Honda vs. Chevy, Penske vs. Andretti, etc.? Do any of the powers that be recognize what an opportunity this is? Regardless of whether one likes or hates sports betting, ignoring it now is simply bad business.
John D., Indianapolis
RM: Mark Miles spent quite a bit of time lobbying for gambling and totally understands how valuable it could be for IndyCar’s profile. You will be able to bet on the whole series next year on your phone and Indy should have tons of prop bets to salivate over. I sent Mark about 50 prop bets a few months ago and he’s on board with the potential. I just wish there was a way for the competitors to share in the take.
Q: Longtime reader, first time writing. As I was reading your story about the TV numbers for this year I could not help but be more than a little disappointed and a lot frustrated by the fact that as you mentioned all of the journalists around the country who help keep IndyCar relevant in their publications, that the Indianapolis Star, which should be the newspaper of record for the series, has not has a full time IndyCar beat writer since after Pocono.
I will admit that I was more than a little concerned when Curt Cavin left that position to take the job with IndyCar. After reading Jim Ayello for just a few times I realized that the Indy Car beat was in good hands. I always found his stories to be well-written. He did not allow himself to become a cheerleader for the series, but was a thoughtful writer who was a straight shooter while also recognizing that the series was full of great personalities with passion for the sport. And he always allowed that passion to come to life as he wrote about them. All of that being said, have you heard if there will be someone covering IndyCar full-time next year for the Star? If not then half of my reason for even reading the rag (Pacer coverage being the other half) will disappear. In the meantime, keep up your truly great coverage of a sport that we both love. I’ve attended 54 Indianapolis 500s and at least 40 other IndyCar events over the years.
Bob Putnam, Speedway, IN.
RM: I applied for the job Bob, but was turned down for lack of experience and a bad attitude. I do know that a young man who works for a Gannett paper in New Orleans supposedly has been tabbed to replace Ayello (who did an excellent job, BTW) so I just hope he’s got as much drive to learn the sport as Jim did. It’s not an easy beat to step into, but the saddest thing is that Ayello really got enthused about it and it showed in his writing.
Q: Leal Beattie’s widow, Karen, still lives in the Dayton area (and attends Indy each year). I e-mailed her your story about IndyCar TV ratings, thinking she might be surprised to see him mentioned. She sent this e-mail back: “Surprised isn’t the word, it brought tears and lots. Means so much to know he is still thought of.” I thought you might appreciate that. Leal covered Indy for 25 consecutive years, from 1973 (when Salt Walther’s crash was a huge story in Dayton) through 1997.
RM: Thanks for sharing, Ron. Please have her contact me next May, I’d love to meet her. Leal was one of the best and most dedicated motorsports writers ever.
Q: I case no one else emails it in, the Rapid Response movie is now taking pre-orders for the DVD. To use credit card, you will need either a PayPal or a Google Pay account. If you have a regular Google account, click on that and enter your CC information. I pre-ordered my copy today once I found out you could. The website says it’s aiming for a December 10, 2019 availability date.
John Balestrieri, Milwaukee
RM: Thanks for that info, John. It’s a damn good documentary that I think all IndyCar fans would enjoy.