Q: Your article on Joe Blow history may have been my favorite of 2019. This same story could be told many times over in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s at IMS. If people want a deep dive into this type of story, read “A Month At The Brickyard” by Sonny Kleinfield. The book is about the 1976 Indy 500 chronicling car owner Tassi Vatis, chief mechanic Bill Finley, Bill’s cast of characters and driver Johnny Parsons Jr. It is great book about a little team that finished 12th. Not all of these little teams found their way into the 500 field, but they lived one of my dreams of lapping IMS in an IndyCar. I can only hope that Mike Shank, Trevor Carlin, Ricardo Juncos, and Road to Indy teams who join the top division in the next decade find success at IMS. IndyCar’s long-term future comes from their comment to the series.
James A. DaPuzzo III
RM: Thanks Jimmy, I always feel like IndyCar fans root for the little guy or the team like Finley’s with small budgets and big hearts. I was lucky enough to be around the Vatis/Finley operation from 1972-77 as a stooge, fuel vent man, board man and chief pain-in-the-ass for Bill Finley, but those are great memories of a time that will never exist again in Gasoline Alley.
Q: If a team has two drivers but one brings in a considerable amount of more money/sponsors, do the two still get different amounts of engineers/off season practice/equipment/etc, or does it all go into one pool and shared equally?
Joel, Anna, TX
RM: No, teammates are treated equally and share information because it’s the smartest way to gain an advantage.
Q: Any chance that IndyCar comes back to Vegas? I know going back to LVMS might be too emotionally painful after losing Dan Wheldon, but didn’t Champ Car have plans in place for a downtown Las Vegas street race at one time? Perhaps that could be resurrected. Thoughts?
Martin M., Henderson, NV
RM: The Champ Car street race layout was the best I’ve ever seen, but it cost the promoter a fortune and nobody showed up because they held the race on Easter Sunday, so I would say no chance it ever returns.
Q: I subscribed last year to the NBC Sports IndyCar Gold Pass and will do so again in 2020. Having every moment of on track activity including every practice, every qualifying session and every race at my fingertips all year long, including now in the offseason, is awesome. I am wondering why I can’t watch the Fast 9 and Back Row Shootout from Indy on Gold? It is literally the only on-track activity of the entire season not available. I am having a hell of a time getting an answer on that, and I would like it added because it was some of the most dramatic moments of the entire season. Since you are one of the stars of the Gold package, I thought you might be able to find out why it isn’t there and get it added. Thanks for your help!
RM: I’ve sent your question to NBC and IndyCar so hopefully we’ll get a response soon. But I imagine since both of those events are on NBC, that is why it’s not on Gold. Thanks for being a fan.
Q: I just read that NASCAR has signed four major sponsors. This eliminates four potential sponsors for IndyCar. I’m concerned.
RM: Not really. Busch and Xfinity have been titles sponsors, Coke has had a driver-driven ad campaign for more than a decade, and GEICO has been a team sponsor for many years. Other than GEICO, an Indy 500-only sponsor once, none of those companies were IndyCar bait.
Q: What happened to Helio? Where is he now?
RM: He’s a full-time sports car driver for Roger Penske and waiting to get the call for the fourth car at Indianapolis next May.
Q: What is Derrick Walker doing these days, and does starting up a team crossed his mind once again? How are the races’ TV ratings calculated – is it an electronic-driven system where the data is provided by telecommunication companies, or is it the old school way of calling homes-survey style as Nielsen conducted years ago?
John Mylenek, Howell, MI
RM: DW lives between Indianapolis and Bonita Springs, Fla. and spends most of his time trying to borrow money from me and making me take him to lunch. When he’s not bugging me he still runs the Porsche parts supply for IMSA, and would love to help an IndyCar team in May. Nielsen ratings still rule as far as TV numbers go, which always make you wonder why since they could put a chip in everyone’s television and know exactly what you’re watching and for how long.