Q: Have you ever had the opportunity to drive a fast production car for a hot lap at IMS when no one was looking? If so how fast did you get it?
Doug Skinner, Bloomington, IN
RM: In 1987, the first and only time I got a pace car, I believe it was a Trans Am and I think Tom Sneva and I drove it around IMS one night at about 130 mph after our poker game in the Turn 2 suites. He’d crashed twice in Turn 1 during May, so I suggested we wear helmets. When I returned the car in September it had over 5,000 miles because I took it to Milwaukee, Cleveland, Pocono, Toronto and Michigan. The 500 Festival Committee wasn’t too pleased, and I pleaded stupidity to no avail. I never got to drive another one. But damn that thing ran good on the open highway.
Q: Are there any IndyCar Series race tracks that you don’t like at all?
Chris Fiegler, Latham, NY
RM: The Medlands (that’s what A.J. called it), also known as the Meadowlands, had to be the most Mickey Mouse course of its day until Champ Car ran the streets of Miami in 2002. And the 2001 oval in Cicero, Ill. was just a paperclip where passing was impossible. Those are the three that come to mind.
Q: With the season starting just around the corner, is there any conversation within IndyCar regarding rescheduling or postponing race events for safety with growing concerns of coronavirus?
Tony Piergallini, Titusville, FL
RM: Nope. Roger Penske said his staff is monitoring the situation, and that’s about all anyone can do right now.
Q: The comments in last week’s Mailbag about updating the museum caught my attention. I’m sure you’ve seen the Barber Motorcycle Museum. It’s not just the motorcycles, but the jaw-dropping creative design of the building and displays which make it a total experience. Unfortunately IMS is just walking around a couple of rooms looking at a small handful cars of the cars the Speedway Museum Foundation owns. I’d like to see RP & co. bring in some creative minds and create something that leaves race fans saying, “Wow!”
RM: Trust me, The Captain will make the IMS museum a showplace within the next couple years and you won’t recognize it. But it definitely needs either a major facelift, or simply a new building.
Q: I am a long-time IndyCar fan and have a story (probably best not for public consumption) that I just now feel comfortable sharing. I will start by saying I grew up going to the Budweiser GI Joe’s 200 with my Dad and brother. Last year in Portland I brought some family friends to the race. They had never attended an IndyCar race before and were completely blown away…
The story begins at about 7:00pm after the race was over. We ventured into downtown Portland and ended up at a bar. While sitting at the bar, I pointed out to my friends that Oriol Servia was sitting at the opposite end of the bar. I explained to them who Servia was, and didn’t think much else. At that point I got up to go to the bathroom and when I came back Oriol was talking to my friend and his wife. Apparently, my friend had walked over and told him I was a big IndyCar fan. Initially I was upset because I don’t like to bother people who are trying to enjoy themselves, however Oriol could not have been nicer. I told him how happy I was IndyCar was back in Portland, asked him about his Indy 500 prospects for 2020…really fun, genuine conversation.
As he was leaving, he came up to us and said he was heading to a party honoring Greg Moore and gave us wristbands to attend. Needless to say, about an hour later we went to the party and it was who’s who of IndyCar. Drivers (Dario, Max P, Max C, Jack Harvey, Arie L, Seabass, Oriol, Jimmy V, several others I am forgetting) pit crew members, IndyCar executives and members of Greg Moore’s family. It turned into a proper party, and I ended up singing “Sweet Caroline” on the karaoke machine and am pretty sure it was a hit…things get a little blurry.
Having read a little bit about Greg Moore and the fun he liked to have outside of the race car, I imagine this night would have made him extremely happy. The next morning, we all drove back to Seattle not believing what had taken place the night before. It could not have been a better trip. I am taking six people down to long beach this year. We will be partying in the Bubba Gump Shrimp Club in Turn 1!
Chris from Seattle
RM: Well, you didn’t ask a question but you talked about one of our favorite people in IndyCar, and you’re bringing six people to Long Beach so you get a free pass to tell your story. It doesn’t surprise me because Servia is one of the finest people you’ll ever meet, and I hope he can find something for Indy. And you would have liked Greg Moore. Everyone did.