Q: Thanks for being you and keeping the open-wheel IndyCar freaks posted on the real news. An idea hit me to honor the Hulman-George family at this year’s 500, and especially Mary Hulman-George. She was a very special woman, and quite the philanthropist. How about all fans bringing one dollar (or more, obviously) and ask the Hulman-George family which effort they want to support? My vote would be child hunger. I am certain the Penske group could further develop this, and help the fans feel like we are sharing the Hulman-George love for the future.
RM: Thanks for reading RACER.com, and I passed along your suggestion to Doug Boles and Penske management.
Q: I wanted to ask if any testing of the aeroscreen has been done at a track like Road America, Watkins Glen or the like? It looks like vision may be blocked when there is a change in both direction of travel and a change in elevation. Thank you for any information that you can provide.
RM: There are elevation changes at COTA, and nobody reported a problem to my knowledge.
Q: I attended St. Pete and Long Beach last year, and was thrilled with the look of the IndyCar in person after they got rid of the awful “Kardashians” at the rear of the car. I attended with a great friend of mine who had never seen a race, and he was blown away by the cars and the sounds. But leave it to IndyCar to take one step forward and two steps back – the new aeroscreens look terrible! Why, oh why, is IndyCar determined to have the ugliest cars in professional motorsport? (I was not a fan of the halo in F1 but they did a much better job at preserving the open cockpit.
First we suffered for years with the IRL Dallara, then it was the DW12, until it got the much-deserved makeover, and now we are back to the crapwagon look of the DW12 with an aeroscreen. Why can’t they just leave well enough alone? If they want to improve safety, invest properly in a new car. Don’t just tack on something that looks like they found the spare parts lying around in a junkyard. This has really stifled my excitement for St. Pete this year. Save making IndyCars out of foam rubber, there is always going to be danger. Who is asking for these changes? Thanks for continuing to provide this platform for fans to express their opinions.
RM: IndyCar held out as long as it could before it introduced the aeroscreen, and it wasn’t cheap, with Red Bull’s technology department doing the design. The drivers would have raced with or without it, but because of the pressure to join the club, IndyCar acquiesced and made the move in the name of safety. I think we all miss seeing the driver operate, be it F1, IndyCar, midgets or sprints, but that’s the way of the world today so I guess you either accept or quit watching. But if the racing remains good, it shouldn’t be that big an issue.
Q: For several years now, I’ve had a dream that Indy would host an invitational race on Labor Day weekend. Specifically, a race that would only accept cars built by accredited colleges from throughout the country. Not an electric- or solar-powered car, but an alternative fuel open-wheel metal and fiberglass race car powered by a stock block engine. It could be a claimer series where the investment could not exceed say $250K. Cars could be either sponsored by a college’s technology department, or sponsored by a booster organization supported by the college, with the mandate that they have to be built by students (with appropriate supervision).
It would be a great test bed using older (and cheaper) manufacturing options, while simultaneously encouraging the next generation of technicians and engineers to become involved in “our” form of racing. I think it would serve both generations – us geezers who pine for the good old days, and the younger folks who love technology. This has been a pipe dream of mine to fill the time during a long commute, but given the new atmosphere at Indy, I’d be curious to know if Penske, or more specifically Penske Entertainment Corp, would even consider this.
On the topic of Penske Entertainment Group, I’d suggest they start promoting the series by bringing a car to local grassroots events two-three months in advance of a local race. For instance, this year’s race at Richmond is scheduled for June 27. Beginning in April, there are numerous events (i.e. SCCA Track Days, HPDE’s, local Track Crosses, etc.) that occur almost on a weekly basis at local tracks like VIR, Dominion Raceway, Summit Point, that are full of potential race fans. Bring a car and a driver (I think Hinch would be a perfect ambassador) to these events, run a couple of laps, offer a discounted ticket price, and build the base while their tongues are still wagging.
Am I completely delusional here? Is Penske Entertainment Group hiring? Would they consider a position of a regional promotions manager? Or should I just have myself fitted for a straightjacket and wicker wheelchair at the nearest old folks home?
Please write that “No Momma’s Boys” book with the Indy GOATs while they’re still around to share those stories.
Napalm Nick, Locust Grove, VA
RM: R.P. has made it clear he wants IMS to host different platforms, and your idea (which I sent to him along with your email) might be right down his alley. I do think Penske Entertainment will make some moves, but not until after Indianapolis. I also forwarded your suggestion to Dennis Bickmeier at Richmond. I do like my book title, just wish I had the energy to write it.