Robin Miller's Mailbag for December 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for December 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for December 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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Q: Longtime reader; keep up the good work. The column about Joe Blow and the comments section got me to thinking: why not a stock block option? An idea beloved by Dan Gurney (a recommendation) and Tony George (not so much). I assume someone makes an aluminum block that would work, so weight wouldn’t be a factor. NASCAR gets 850 reliable HP from six liters. Again, not a factor. All the major manufacturers sell V8s (except Honda). Could be a factor. Cheaper and readily available, at least theoretically. Your thoughts?

[No name supplied]

RM: The engine participation is driven by manufacturers so if Honda and Chevy suddenly decide they want to go stock block, then we might hear a different sound in May. But there isn’t enough money and interest to change today’s engine formula.

Q: I have never been to the IMS Museum, so I don’t have any knowledge of the issues with it. What do you think needs to be done to remake the IMS Museum? Do you envision something like a modern art museum, or something else? Does it require a completely new building or a facelift?

Eric, South Florida

RM: A multiple-floor facility with windows and good lightning and atmosphere! And changing displays and videos and something that resembles the 21st century. Go to the museum at Barber Motorsports Park and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Q: I’ve enjoyed your work since my family started following Champ Car in 1983 (including getting the Indy Star delivered to Chicago in May for many years.). Your reference to Buzz Calkins’ 500 win being the greatest missed commercial opportunity reminded me of what I believe was the No. 1 missed commercial opportunity: a legitimate 400,000 mid ’80s Indy 500 spectators endlessly debating whether Miller Lite “tastes great” or is “less filling.” How Miller missed this one, I still can’t understand. It might be time for a throwback campaign.

My near-term ‘old fart’ status was secured during my recent visit to the IMS Museum when I was able to inform the helpful docent about Chris Kneifel’s car which was on display without any identifying info. When I asked him about the car, he went looking for an answer in a tattered media guide. He was grateful when I was able to tell him a bit about the Primus. I was really delighted to see all the museum’s great cars, including the gorgeous Fosters Porsche March 90P, Smokey Yunick’s Jose Johnson special, and even Jimmy Murphy’s Indy/Le Mans winner. We need people to tell the amazing racing stories, and I hope that you, Marshall, Adam Carolla, and the Dinner with Racers guys can keep bringing these great tales of human achievement to us for years to come.

Shaun Fagan

RM: Can you imagine the front straightaway yelling “Tastes Great” and the Snake Pit responding “Less Filling?” Great idea. The museum needs an upgrade and R.P. will deliver one and then we can see all the treasure that’s been hidden in the basement. Thanks for reading and watching, we’ll all keep the old days relevant if possible.

Q: Longtime reader, first time writer. Not so much a question, but I thought that track promoter Jim Naylor and his entire team at Ventura Raceway deserve a huge round of applause for getting the track back to raceable conditions in order to host this prestigious event. The rains in Southern California wreaked havoc on the track, postponing the event by a day and then a passing storm during the event created another challenge, yet Jim Naylor and his crew rose to the occasion. Hats off to Kyle Larson for the win, but an enormous thank you to those at Ventura Raceway for doing what you do best: making sure we, the fans, get a great night of entertainment.

Matt Payette, Westlake Village, CA

RM: Thanks Matt, always good to hear a good story like this one and the race was its usual kick-ass self.

Q: I have been following racing with varying levels of interest for 50 years and have recently followed or more closely because of RACER.com. Could somebody please tell me what in the blankety blank blank all of these sports car classes are? Between LMP2, Daytona Prototypes, Trans Ams, Hypercars, ADHD cars or whatever, I am lost. I would follow them more if I could keep the blinking classes straight. As an aside, that is part of the problem with all auto racing at all levels. Too many classes of cars with too few cars in each class.

Brian Ferguson

RM: I know what you’re saying Brian, so here’s the easy way to get instant recall. IMSA: That’s where Montoya, Castroneves and now Bourdais will be driving in 2020. WEC: That’s Le Mans. Trans Am: I know Chris Dyson of RACER fame was in contention for the 2019 championship, and the cars are similar to what Parnelli, Gurney and Donahue raced. World Challenge: small sedans that put on some fierce racing. [ED: You’re likely not the only one who is confused about the various sports car classes, so we’ll look into creating a permanent primer to put on the site ahead of the Rolex 24].

This is a DPi. (Driven by Helio Castroneves, if that helps the author of the earlier letter.) Image by Galstad.

Q: When are the stories from your article “Special Moments in Joe Blow History” going to be published as a chapter in the “Special Indy 500 Memories” book by Robin Miller? Included could be the good, bad, and ugly – like deaths at the speedway. Good could include Rex Mays stopping his car for an injured driver at the Milwaukee Mile in 1948. Other selfless gestures for the good of racing could be recognized. There may be too many Indy stories and footnotes in Robin’s head for one volume. That’s why he better get started now.

Bob Hunt, Lodi, WI

RM: If I don’t get it written in the next couple years all the people who know who Rex Mays was will be dead, so that’s a lot of pressure.

Q: Hello Mr. Robin Miller! Are you married or have any little Millers? I never met you but I read your articles and all the **** you stir. Have a Merry Christmas and a great Healthy New Year!!

Barney, Reno, Nevada

RM: Never been married Barney, but still friends with my three serious girlfriends (who immediately got married and had a family after we broke up so there’s a message there) and no children, no dogs, no cats and no worries.

Q: The wife and I watched Paul Newman in the 1969 movie “Winning” over the Thanksgiving weekend. I spotted AJ, Mario, JR, Mel Kenyon, Dan Gurney, etc. in the footage from Indy. Was there a handsome, young Robin Miller somewhere in the film?

Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA

RM: No, but he tried to become an extra one day in the bleachers and was turned away.

 

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