Q: Sad to not see the St. Petersburg race go on, but it’s the right decision. These could be a rough next couple months. Is Roger considering pushing the Indy 500 back if the coronavirus doesn’t settle down? A lot of model estimates are putting this thing peaking in April. I just don’t see things getting back to normal in May.
RM: As organized and smart and experienced as The Captain may be, he cannot forecast when this pandemic is going to end, so he’ll react appropriately when things become a little more clear.
Q: So it appears everyone is parked for the foreseeable future. All the other sports are shut down as well. That’s a lot of TV hours with no content to fill. Why not do an IROC series, of sorts? Invite drivers from all series to participate together, on a variety of track types – via iRacing. And televise it. Invite the top iRacing guys, NASCAR, IndyCar, F1, sprint cars, off-road, maybe even drag racers – anybody who has a computer setup for it.
Run a variety of tracks – ovals, road courses, dirt, etc. I know it’s not real racing – but if it’s the only game in town…. Plus, it might introduce both drivers and fans to different forms of racing that they normally wouldn’t watch or participate it. That might have a carry over effect when we go back to real racing. Thoughts?
RM: Our NBC director Terry Lingner is working on a concept like you suggested, as is IndyCar, so I think something could happen. I imagine it would be more IndyCar-driven, although if you could get Little E and Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart it might really be a hit. Stay tuned.
Q: How about IndyCar race the first couple of races live on iRacing?
Ray Tetro, IndyCar fan since 1987
RM: It may come down to that Ray, and it’s being discussed.
Q: When discussing the most prestigious automobile races, the common subjects of conversation are the Indy 500, the Monaco Grand Prix, the Daytona 500, Le Mans, Dakar, etc. One common attribute that I see in these events is the combination of skill and a healthy dose of luck required to win. In your mind, is there a common trait that underlines these events, or are they held in such regard for their own reasons?
And second: as we often observe in the world when significant events happen, things seldom revert 100% back to the way things were. Given the current pause in worldwide racing activity, what do you see as the “new normal” in motorsports should our daily lives resume some semblance of normalcy in the near future? Regardless of how one feels about it, I can easily see virtual racing taking a big leap forward to fill the void left by real racing, and perhaps pushing itself further into the professional motorsport realm – especially if some of the sport’s stars continue to participate. Thanks for keeping the Mailbag going, and good health to all in these most interesting times.
RM: History and popularity would seem to be the keys, along with bravery and curiosity. My old pal David Cassidy use to say that only 50,000 of the 250,000 that came to Indy were true IndyCar fans and the rest were simply attending because it was fashionable or expected of them. Danger drew a lot of people to Indy and Daytona, and I would say the Isle of Man is now tops in that category, but each big event has its own mystique. I have no idea what the new normal would be, but if it’s race cars that don’t make noise or races on computers, I will gladly walk away and watch Dick Wallen movies for the rest of my days.
Q: It’s been a while since I wrote, but I never fail to read the Mailbag! Can you explain some of the fury about Alonso? I don’t get it, I’ve been a fan for over 35 years and there have always been drivers from other categories, including F1. I’m worried about the lack of money in the sport I love and we need all the press we can get, so Alonso doing the 500 is awesome! I wish he were doing the whole season.
I think that IndyCar and F1 should meet to see if we could get more teams and drivers in the race! The catering budget for Red Bull could pay for the whole field at the 500. Maybe Roger Penske could make a deal where Monaco could be moved and open up the race for F1 drivers to try to make the race. Imagine the press for both series! Maybe get some IndyCar drivers a ride for COTA, or have F1 back at Indy! Just a thought.
RM: Well R.P. is exploring bringing F1 back to IMS so sticking Josef Newgarden into a competitive car would be cool, but not too sure F1 really cares about making Indy doable for its drivers. As for Alonso, he’s a media magnet who won over a lot of IndyCar fans in 2017, and of course he’s great for the race and IndyCar in general. Love to see him at Road America and Iowa after Indianapolis.
Q: I think it’s great that some people love Alonso and some people despise him. This is good for IndyCar! At Road America last year, I waited in line to meet some of the young drivers. Ferrucci was great, Herta not so much (never even looked up from his phone)
This doesn’t mean Herta’s a bad guy, but it gave me someone to root against on race day.
Jason Scott, Green Bay, WI
RM: I don’t think a lot of people are anti-Fernando (it sure didn’t sound like it after his car broke down in 2017 at Indianapolis), but whether people cheer for or against a driver is always good. Colton is usually very good at interacting with fans even though he’s quiet, so I’m surprised to hear of your encounter. And Ferrucci is simply a crowd-pleaser.