Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 4, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 4, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 4, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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Q: Now that Mr. Penske owns IMS, IndyCar and the NTT Data IndyCar Series and knows how to negotiate, is there a chance to bring back some ovals such as Michigan, Kentucky and Chicagoland?

Brian Lancaster, West Lafayette, IN

RM: Only if it makes financial sense for both parties, and I would think the best shot would be a NASCAR/IndyCar doubleheader at one of them.

Q: With Penske’s IndyCar ownership, do you think anything will change with Pocono? Apparently Pocono didn’t want to lose the IndyCar race once they lost the second NASCAR race. And attendance was slowly improving. Penske has Pennsylvania roots. Any chance Pocono may be added again? We need more ovals.

Jim, Indy

RM: Not heard anything mentioned about Pocono, but again, if it fit the schedule and both sides were willing to try for at least three years, maybe it’s got a chance. But I don’t think Pocono cared about keeping IndyCar until it lost one of its NASCAR weekends, and it was never promoted properly so not sure it would be a good match.

It’s better than getting another letter about Michigan, I guess. Image by Abbott/LAT

Q: I know that everyone who reads this Mailbag always talks about how to grow IndyCar and bring it back to its glory days. The sport needs to attract new fans and not keep trying to win back the old ones who left. The talk always centers around the numbers: the cars, manufacturers, engines, purse, etc. All these are true, but can only happen when there is money in the series. I think what is often left out in that discussion is the passion and humanity. Without the passionate interest of many – especially younger – fans, IndyCar will never have the money to do the things that we all agree need to happen.

F1 (irrespective of its racing quality) does a much better job of promoting itself in this regard. I have been watching the second season of Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix. It is a great show that takes viewers behind the scenes so that fans can get to know the drivers, teams, sport, etc. With the launch of the new IndyCar add campaign of “A Different Breed” (which is a perfect name for an IndyCar-based series like Drive to Survive on Netflix), I think the time has come to focus on the people in IndyCar. Also, F1 had the documentaries Senna and 1 which are both great. I know that Rapid Response, which is IndyCar’s answer to F1’s safety documentary, has been produced, but I do not know which service to watch on (it should be on NBC Sports or NBC Sports Gold). We need a documentary about Dan Wheldon and/or Justin Wilson.

In addition, an easy-to-play video game (for Xbox or PlayStation) would immerse the younger generation into the world. Hopefully, IMS Productions and Penske Entertainment can work to produce content that brings in the casual fan, because that is the only way to get the opportunity to develop future hardcore fans. Thoughts?

Arvind Mahadevan, Peoria, AZ

RM: I think R.P. might look at IMS Productions as the vehicle to drive any kind of documentaries, and also a place to create content for NBC Gold and YouTube. Not sure that creates new fans as much as it does placates the ones we have now, but it would be welcomed. And if you could get it on Netflix, that might be the key to a younger audience.

Q: Just a quick reminder of drivers that can crash going 70 mph in an IndyCar – Can you say Coooogan, Cooooogan, Cooooogan. Ruined my Mario party that year. Of course, we were listening on the radio – 50 people huddle around an old Panasonic radio. Then the race was shown on ABC in the evenig. Good times. I’m sure some people can remember that. Especially an old war horse like you. See ya at RA.

Jeff Kennedy, Naperville, IL

RM: Good call Jeff, but I still think it was a half shaft instead of driver error, and IndyCar doesn’t make a habit of crashing at 70 mph on a straight stretch of pavement. Sure it happened in 1966 and 197,3 but they were hauling ass by then.

Q: I am from Hong Kong and I am planning to visit the Indy 500 this coming May for the first time! (Hope the coronavirus thing won’t change my plan…) I imagine the Speedway will be filled up with tourists, but I guess Asian visitors are still quite rare there. I hope I can find some companions to go with me, but unfortunately IndyCar is not very popular or even known in this part of the world, so I think I’ll be all alone. What do you suggest for a single foreign visitor to spend the weekend at the Speedway, and which type of ticket you suggest to buy?

I have been following the sport since I was a child and I really think that IndyCar racing is among the best racing series in the world. However, whenever I bring up the topics about Indy with my car/ racing communities, they don’t really bother and they think IndyCar only equals to oval racing, which they have no appetite for at all. Moreover, I guess the time difference between the USA and Asian countries does not help, as not even I would get up at 4am on Monday to watch a race. I still wish to promote this race to my friends and Hong Kong as a whole, so I’ve decided to do some vlogs and write some tourism articles about my visit. I wonder how accessible are the drivers/ team members/ legends are over the weekend, and I wonder if there is any chance that I can actually talk or even interview with some of them? I really want to show how great this experience is and make this as a traveling option for motorsport/car enthusiasts in this part of the world.

Finally, would love to read about your opinion about the series’ promotion outside the USA, especially in Asia. As I said, there’s basically no-one here who knows about the sport but this could be a potential market. Are international races in Asia still on the cards, or it is just a fantasy?

Damon, Hong Kong

RM: I would go to Brickyard.com and buy a seat in one of the four Vistas as high as you can find. Then send an email to the credentials office at the Speedway, tell them your writing plan and apply for a credential. The drivers are very obliging to the media so you’ll have no trouble. Takuma Sato has lots of fans – not sure how many of them come to Indy, but you’ll make friends. Not sure about a race in Asia in the foreseeable future, although NTT mentioned it would like one in the Far East so maybe there’s a chance. Good luck.

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