Q: Just reading the Mailbag, and had a thought about the starts and how spread out it is now. It bothers me too, most years. Since R.P. is in the mood for some changes, how about before Carb Day practice starts, cars have to warm up anyway, they do a parade lap, a lap strung out, and then the formation lap up to where the green flag would fall, then send them back in to get ready for practice? It might help the race day alignment, and would offer some great pictures for those not attending the race.
Doug Skinner, Bloomington, IN
RM: Sounds too risky. What if you take out a couple rows on your practice start? I know we will likely never have those nose-to-tail starts of the ’50s-’60s-’70s-’80s, but as long as they’re fairly close to each other the first lap still seems to have that rush.
Q: A questioner last week asked if the Milwaukee Mile is getting any support for racing.
The largest support comes from the State Fair Board, which operates the track. From their publicly available meeting notes (8/18/18), Chairman John Yingling stated: ”If we were to host a major race in the future, we would have to make some improvements to the track, and we’d have to pay back the PRB.” (Program Revenue Bond). Meaning the Fair Board supports major racing only they are in a Catch 22. They cannot bond money for the track without a race. This is where, as you suggested previously, Roger Penske comes in. His connections to NASCAR, IndyCar, and John Menard could bring people to the table to make major Mile races happen again.
The Mile is active. There was the ARCA race promoted by Bob Sargent last year. Sargent stated he is impressed by the facility with its soft walls, media center, and new grandstands – features few tracks he promotes have. The Mile has an active road course, Millers at the Mile, and street drags with car shows which are popular and profitable. The drag races and car shows are put on by fellow Wisconsin ARCA promoters Gregg McKarns and Chuck Deery. Millers at the Mile features vintage Miller IndyCars from the 1930s. John Mecum, CEO of Mecum Auctions, brings three cars. He lives just a few miles from the Mile, and could be tapped to support the Mile more. David Hobbs, a Milwaukee Honda dealer and former F1 racing announcer and racer, has been a diehard supporter of the Mile. Even though Hobbs lost money on a previous Mile promotion, when someone like R.P. comes calling, it could be surprising how much support there is for the Mile.
Bob Hunt, Lodi, WI
RM: Thanks for the update Bob, but it still seems like a real long-shot to get IndyCar back to The Mile because of all the previous struggles.
Q: Have you heard anything from IndyCar, the drivers, or teams about what effect the new aeroscreen will have on the aerodynamics with regards to the racing? I have to imagine the airflow around and over the screen will be a fairly drastic change from before, so might it produce a bigger draft for trailing cars? Or make a more turbulent wake that might make passing more difficult?
Matt, Whitehall, PA
RM: No, I think we will probably wait until after practice and race day at Indianapolis before any determinations are made regarding your question.
Q: Just wanted to pass along this info for Spring Training COTA next month. On Feb. 11, for $20 IndyCar fans have access to the main grandstand, the paddock, and the paddock lounge/patio. Those who have already purchased three-day AutoNation IndyCar Challenge tickets can enjoy spring training free of charge, but will need to claim their ticket here.
Tom in Waco
RM: Thanks Tom, appreciate the info.
Q: First, I want to thank you and Marshall Pruett for all that you gentlemen do for IndyCar. There are definitely others doing great work, but you guys are the most consistent and thorough out there. F1 is set to release season two of Drive to Survive. There was also a documentary on the Williams team recently, and numerous other docs based on F1. Also a few from the sports car world to get through the lulls of the off-season. Does IndyCar have any plans to release something similar in near future? Mr. Penske has offered to help promoters through the use of IMS Productions; any rumors that their general content role for the series and IMS will be expanded as well?
Josh, Detroit, MI
RM: I don’t know; isn’t it driven by Netflix? It’s the same old question. Who pays for it? Sure it would be great to have an IndyCar-flavored documentary about a little guy like Mike Shank or Dale Coyne but there needs to be interest and money. I’ll ask IMSP.
Q: Robin, what would be the ideal on-track outcome for the maiden Xfinity road course race? Would it be a clean race with lots of passing, or a wreck-fest? I think it’s the latter; the NASCAR audience isn’t averse to wreckin’ and the 400 doesn’t lend itself to pileups that make TV highlights. The powers that be at IMS could never market the Xfinity race as “half these guys can’t drive worth a hoot so come for the carnage!” but I think they wouldn’t mind seeing just that. Thoughts?
RM: The Xfinity races at Road America and Mid-Ohio have always been carnage because these drivers don’t road race, and I would imagine IMS holds the same fate. I don’t know if anyone will show up, but I do think the Cup race would be damn entertaining on the IMS road course because The Glen and Sonoma are two of their best races of the year.