Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.
Your questions for Robin should be sent to email@example.com. We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you. And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, Robin will pass these on to Marshall Pruett and he will also answer here.
Q: Last year we Canucks bitched long and loud about Rogers shifting IndyCar to an all-soccer premium channel. Longtime fans had grown accustomed to decades of uninterrupted coverage, and only having to purchase the first tier of a sports package that most Canadians buy for hockey anyway. Hopefully some of those fans have written in to express that the recent news of an expanded IndyCar schedule is great to hear for loyal fans up north. Great job, IndyCar and Rogers! Between the races on NBC (which is basic cable) and the races on Sportsnet360, which is only one tier up, Canadian IndyCar fans can enjoy all races except Alabama, Long Beach and COTA. And since those three races are all in April, one can subscribe to Sportsnet World for a single month and get those three races for $20! I, for one, can live with that. Thanks!
Trevor Bohay, Kamloops, BC, Canada
RM: Stephen Starks of IndyCar deserves all the credit, because I drove him crazy sending him all the angry emails and he worked hard to get Canada something more affordable and appealing. I don’t profess to know all the ins and outs of cable TV in Canada but it sounds challenging, and I hope most fans will embrace this news like you, Trevor. Thanks.
Q: Well, I suppose this is good news. If you want all of the races, you still have to subscribe to the SportsNet World package for the whole season. I fail to see how this makes it any better. Thanks to IndyCar for trying. A big thumbs-down to SportsNet though.
Doug Mayer, Revelstoke, BC, Canada
RM: At the risk of sounding less than understanding, we all have to pay for cable television in some form nowadays, so if it’s something you enjoy, just make it one of your guilty pleasures. I pay a fortune to DirecTV just to get NBCSN, FOX Sports1 and four ESPN channels. I know you’ve been a big IndyCar supporter for years Doug, but is this new plan really that bad?
Q: As a rather vocal critic in your Mailbag of the IndyCar series and NBC sports group for the loss of adequate IndyCar TV coverage in Canada last year, I have to comment on the news that 10 of 17 races will be on basic Canadian cable this year. Added with the NBC network coverage scheduled for this year, only four races will not be covered on Canadian cable. Added to that, James Hinchcliffe will be on that TV coverage.
This is still not an ideal situation, those races in April means I will likely have to pick up Sports World at $25 for that month, and there is no IndyCar qualifying and no Indy Lights being broadcast here – not even on You Tube – but I am grateful that it appears this is being addressed. I can only hope things can get even better. So, thanks to everyone involved for this piece of good news. Bring on the season already, Go Dalton Go, and Go Anthony Serrevalle (Indy Lights). Has this news been well-received?
Paul Sturmey, Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada
RM: Totally agree, Paul. IndyCar has got to find a way to get practice and qualifying available to Canada but I think IndyCar’s Stephen Starks and Penske Entertainment will make it one of their 2021 priorities. And 80 percent of the responses from Canadian fans have been positive – they feel like IndyCar listened to them.
Q: I completely agree with you about Fernando Alonso and celebrating his return and love for Indy. I didn’t care one bit about him before he came to Indy, but I’m not sure if Indy fans realize what a big deal it was for him to skip F1’s biggest, most prestigious race of the year to come to race at Indy. As soon as he did that, I took notice, and since he’s been so vocal in his love and passion for the 500, he’s quickly become one of my favorites. The same thing happened for Willy P. for me after he won Indy. I didn’t really care for him much until he went bonkers after he won. If guys like Will or Fernando show me they love and cherish the race that I love and cherish, I’ll be rooting for them on race day. Welcome back, Fred. I’ll be cheering for you. Did other F1 champs have the same affection for IMS?
RM: Brabham, Clark and Stewart seemed to embrace Indy, much like Emmo, Nigel and Alonso. But Rindt, Hill, Hulme looked at it more as a necessary evil to a good payday, and Piquet despised all the yellow lights but seemed to enjoy being Gary Bettenhausen’s teammate.
Q: I just finished your article about Fast Freddie at Indy. I think you may have missed one point. In my opinion, the best thing about Alonso failing to qualify last year (and why it was a potential positive) is because it shows just how tough and competitive IndyCar is. It shows that even someone of Fred’s stature can’t just show up and run fast. The worst-case scenario would have been Alonso winning in his first attempt. It would have made Indy look bush-league. Don’t you agree? The combined failure of Alonso and McLaren failure shows that IndyCar is on par with or above any other challenge in motorsports. Now that we have shown that, yes, please bring him in and draw fans from around the world. We need all of the promotion and new fans that we can get.
John in Visalia, CA
RM: Clark, Hill and Fittipaldi winning didn’t do anything but raise Indy’s profile around the world, and if Alonso had won in 2017 it would have simply showed his prowess on one of the best IndyCar teams. McLaren’s failure last year was more a case of being unprepared and arrogant than anything else, and proved that even someone of Fernando’s pedigree can’t shovel s$%# at 220 mph.