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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: I was thinking this could have been the equivalent of when that big storm had the whole Northeast snowed in watching NASCAR in 1979. Anyway, I have gone from being pissed about St. Pete to now bracing myself for the cancellation of the Indy 500 – it seems inevitable. Question for the Mailbag, though. Could the race be pushed off until the fall? Would it be postponed or cancelled?
RM: I can’t imagine The Captain cancelling the Indy 500 even if it had to run in November, but way too early to speculate. I’ve already heard suggestions from running it with the Brickyard 400 on July 4th, to making it the season finale in September, but R.P. will do whatever is best. You can count on that.
Q: Based on Roger Penske’s business acumen and ability to take emotion out of business decisions, do you think he would (or could) proactively move the date of the Indy 500? Would Labor Day weekend even be feasible? Could they do qualifying the weekend before? Interested to hear your thoughts.
Eric, St. Louis, MO
RM: I think R.P. will do everything possible to get the race run in May, but nobody can answer your question until we see what this country looks like in six weeks. Portland is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, so can’t see Indy running that weekend.
Q: Robin, if necessary do you think it’s possible to move Portland back a couple weeks and run the Indy 500 on Labor Day weekend? Also, what can IndyCar do to protect the teams, especially the smaller, less financially-stable ones? I think going forward, cost control and containment should be very high on a list of priorities to help ensure the viability of the series in the future. It appears a major recession is coming, and IndyCar needs to be proactive.
RM: Portland isn’t going to move. You’ve got people who have already bought plane tickets, reserved hotels and planned their vacation around the IndyCar race, and with what’s already happened to the first four races, no, that would not fly. The full-time competitors have the Leaders Circle and Jay Frye has being cutting costs for three years, so we can only hope Elton Julian, Mike Shank and Dennis Reinbold get enough races in to satisfy their sponsors.
Q: Just read your article Uncharted Territory and it reminded me of a thought that I’ve had over the past couple of weeks. The doom and gloomers that emailed you better thank their lucky stars that a man named Penske, backed by a multi-billion dollar company with the same name, now owns IMS/IndyCar through this messed-up time.
I don’t even want to think about the future had Hulman still owned the properties. This is absolutely no disrespect to the Hulman-George family. My point, I’m not so sure a missed Indy 500 would recover with the financial backing of Hulman. Penske has a damn good chance with his resources to see this through should the worst case happen. Uncharted territory, for sure. At least we have the right man and company looking over things – a position I don’t envy one bit.
RM: I think the 104th Indianapolis 500 will be run in 2020, but there is no denying R.P. is the right man to steer through this uncharted territory. I was emailing back and forth with him on Sunday night, and he came to Indy again this week to meet with the IMS staff to keep forging ahead for May. In these trying times he still resonates confidence.
Q: So… longtime IndyCar fan here. I was looking forward to attending this year’s race at COTA with my two sons. Loved the race weekend last year. I am disheartened to hear that IndyCar has cancelled the race, but I imagine they had no choice. I looked on the COTA website, and here is what I found:
THIS TICKET IS A REVOCABLE LICENSE TO ATTEND THE EVENT LISTED ON THE FRONT OF THE TICKET. YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO A REFUND, REPLACEMENT TICKET AND/OR OTHER EVENT ADMISSION MATERIAL OR TO PAYMENT FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND FOR ANY REASON FROM COTA OR INDYCAR, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION CANCELLATION, SHORTENING OR OTHER ALTERATION OF THE EVENT.
If that is true and IndyCar has covered itself for cancelling this race, and I do not receive either the same tickets for the next IndyCar race in 2021 or for a rescheduled IndyCar race this season, then we will never attend another IndyCar race in person. I do understand the current coronavirus issue completely. I hope many others agree. Maybe this loss will get the proper attention from COTA and IndyCar. I hope Mr. Penske is listening. Sorry this happened on your watch sir, but I bet you have the stones to do the right thing.
Peter C, seriously disappointed in Austin
RM: I’m hoping COTA will make the same offer as St. Pete in that your 2020 ticket money can be applied to 2021 and get the same seats. It sucks for all you fans who purchased tickets, airplane tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars, and hopefully it’s far enough out that the folks going to Barber, COTA and Long Beach can be allowed to cancel their rooms and get credit for their airfares. I canceled my Delta flight to Long Beach and received a refund.
Q: I took my family of four to COTA and Portland last year. This year I had already spent $766 for three-day passes to COTA. The COTA ticket policy states they aren’t required to give refunds for cancellations. It seems like poor form that they shore up their bottom line at the expense of mine two months in advance. Any word on refunds/future event tickets for those who already committed to the race?
Derek Cole, Alamogordo, NM
RM: I would call COTA and ask what the policy will be about credit for future events, but I’ve sent emails to management and not received a reply as yet.
NOTE: Since the Mailbag went to press, we’ve learned that COTA plans to issue full refunds. See our postponement/cancellation hub for latest updates – MG.