Q: You may have previously answered this question so forgive my gnat-like memory. What traditions around the Indy 500 do you believe are sacrosanct? Change is inevitable and you appear to accept most and promote some. However, what is your line in the sand? What tradition(s) should not be messed with?
David M., Fort Wayne
RM: Eleven rows of three and the flying start are the only traditions that haven’t been totally trampled over the past 30 years, so let’s leave them alone.
Q: In regards to the answer last week on re-order procedure, I would argue that Rossi got screwed at the Indy 500 by the length of yellow needed to re-order the field at the end of the race. It was pretty clear that the Hondas were making better mileage, and I think that if more green laps were run at the end of the race, there’s a good chance that we have a different outcome at the end of the race.
With declining attendance each year, I worry about the GP of Indy – a great and fun event in my opinion. What is the “natural level” of attendance for the event in your opinion?
RM: No doubt all those yellow laps helped Pagenaud, because it seemed like he was close on fuel and Rossi was running full rich. As for the road course race at IMS, I think 25,000-30,000 would be in the ballpark – you know, about the same crowd as the Brickyard 400 gets.
Q: I know all thoughts of international races outside of North America have been put on hold, but I never understood the insistence on trying to get Surfers to move from October to early season. Why not go to Adelaide, the first race of the Supercars season, which in 2020 will be held in late Feb? This street circuit used to host F1, held the “Race of 1000 Years” ALMS race, and the local government would probably be willing to kick in some funds to make it happen. But, I digress. It ain’t my money, and it’s probably never going to happen. See you in St. Pete.
Stitch Turner, Gainesville, FL
RM: There is a promoter named Ron Dixon who wants to meet with The Captain to discuss bringing IndyCar back to Australia, but I have no idea as to where or when. I do know R.P. is more concerned with shoring up North American events than expanding outside the country, so we’ll see if anything develops.
Q: It has often been lamented that IndyCar lacks American stars to bring people into the fold. I realized this was a wrong assumption by you and many of us fans. Our American stars have been here, as long as I can remember. They’ve been writing columns, posting pictures, bringing an experienced voice to on-track activities. Their names are Miller, Pruett, Till and Varsha.
All of you have brought us more connected to the sport we love. Bob Varsha and Brian Till have been the gold standard in the booth and trackside. All of you have experienced health problems either directly or, in the case of Marshall, his wife. That in itself can be sometimes harder to deal with. I want to remind all of you that you have made huge contributions to our enjoyment of IndyCar and IMSA.
My question is simple. Can all of you get well and know that your fans are invested in your health and happiness? Another question. With the loss of French Fry, has Marshall considered doing a Burger and Canadian Bacon show with the Mayor?
Brian Bristo, London, Canada
RM: Well that is very kind of you, and I would say that all four of us know we’re lucky to have jobs we love – covering the sport we love. I talked to Brian yesterday and he’s recovering nicely from his bout, and will be calling six Weather Tech races for NBC and some other IMSA shows for NBCSN and remain as chief steward for SRO World Challenge. Been emailing with Bob and he’s remaining positive in his fight and is very appreciative of all the goodwill he’s received in the GoFundMe page (thanks to Marshall who got it started). Marshall’s wife is doing therapy every day, and being an ex-Marine is helpful because she’s a fighter. I take chemo pills daily and I’m very lucky because I don’t have any bad side affects. Cancer sucks, as the shirt says, but Brian and I know we’re fortunate because it can be so much worse. And I think if Seb runs for A.J. that Marshall will be able to keep the French Fry show going in 2020. But I’m sure the Mayor will get consideration.
Q: Who do you think will be the next driver to race in both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same year?
Chris Fiegler, Latham, NY
RM: Kyle Busch or Kyle Larson.
Q: I’m hoping to take my son to the Toronto race this year as a high school graduation present. I’ve never been there, so I was wondering if there are any hotels along the track layout? I thought it would be cool to stay right on the route. Also, do you recommend anything for that weekend? Are there any shouldn’t-miss activities or things to do?
Brian, Mt. Juliet, TN
RM: There is a new, gorgeous place inside the track called Hotel X, but that’s the only place to stay by the circuit itself. And I think it’s kinda pricey, but you wouldn’t need to rent a car. Toronto is just a great city, with so many places to eat, and the people are super-friendly, but there’s nothing like the old street parties of the CART days to my knowledge.
Q: Hi Robin, big fan! I would love to take my dad to the 500 this year but we have never been before. I have been to IMS once before (2005 F1 USGP, yes the tire scandal). Do you have any tips for a first-timer? Where would be the best place to sit? I was thinking either the short chute between Turns 1 and 2, or maybe the middle of Turn 4. Thanks!
Rob, Saugus, CA
RM: You are spot-on. Sit as high as possible in any of the four corners. Best and most affordable seats in the house. But if two Vista deck tickets are available anywhere, grab them.