Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 1, presented by Honda Racing/HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 1, presented by Honda Racing/HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 1, presented by Honda Racing/HPD

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Q: Being one of the people on the frontlines of the pandemic, I’m very proud of how the motorsports community (IndyCar, IMSA, F1) responded responsibly to the crisis. Even though there have been fair criticisms, they were ahead of the curve compared to many other sectors of society. As an iRacing participant/fan, major props to the debut IndyCar iRacing event at The Glen. What great production quality, awesome commentary and a not bad racing to boot. Also props to the newbie iRacers like Rossi and Kanaan, who were willing to put their reputation on the line against the guys that are already sim pros. The racing will get better as the old school guys get some more wheel time.

While there has been much old-school fan criticism out there, the one thing that struck me was how this gets IndyCar, drivers, and most importantly sponsors in front of viewers eyes. My question is, how is this helping out the teams financially during this critical period? NBC needs to put this on network! This could be what keeps the small teams alive in these trying times. Stay safe all, and please follow the published public health measures so we can get back to real racing as well.

Scott Brakenridge MD, Gainesville, FL

RM: I don’t see how a race on a computer in front of 12,000 people [ED: 600,000-ish, as of Monday] helps a sponsor. The only two commercials were for Red Cross and that was great, but it didn’t help Wix (Karam’s sponsor) to my knowledge. NBCSN is going to air a couple of match races in the near future and I think that’s more than enough. You stay safe.

Q: Kudos to IndyCar for trying out the iRacing deal. I really tried to watch it, but just couldn’t get there. I’m happy for others who got enjoyment out of it. I’m not sure I’ll ever get into it like real racing, but I have a suggestion. As a younger brother I got a lot of experience being forced to watch others (my older brother and his friends) play video games. When it was fun, it was because they were trash talking each other the whole time and then backing it up or not on the game in real time.

I’d like to watch another version of the iRacing deal where the drivers are all connected to each other via radio. Maybe to make it manageable you have each driver able to talk to the two cars in front and the two behind. Drivers and announcers should be encouraged to talk trash to each other. Make it fun and light. Stop treating this like real racing – there’s no risk, no reward and no danger. I’m not interested in pretending there is. I am interested in watching a fun version of my favorite sport until it can come back for real.

Clint, Chicago

RM: That’s the best suggestion I’ve heard since all this madness started with fake racing. I’d love to hear drivers badmouthing each other, as well as giving it back to the NBC booth. That would be entertaining. I’ve sent your suggestion to IndyCar. Thanks.

For maximum realism they should have a little virtual Robin sitting on a golf cart in the background talking with virtual A.J. about the 1961 Hut Hundred. Image via IndyCar

Q: Does IndyCar buy the airtime for races on NBC and NBCSN? Is this why the iRacing IndyCar event was only content for the IndyCar website? Getting this on TV would provide exposure to sports fans that are begging for – new, live content.

George Atkins, San Antonio, Texas

RM: If IndyCar is going to spend money on NBC or NBCSN it’s going to be for real racing, and the IndyCar.com website is exactly where it belonged in my opinion. But NBCSN has some sim racing planned next month in smaller doses, so stay tuned.

Q: I thought the iRacing event at the Glen was very well put together (and a great way to support the American Red Cross). Everything from listening to the good broadcast team we all know and love, to getting Wickens plugged in for an interview, to seeing a smaller team like DRR and Sage get some good publicity. I think it’s a great move by the IndyCar series to do this, and keeps us gearheads smiling during the down time. What does it take to get NBCSN to televise this the way FS1 is doing so for NASCAR?

Kevin Morgan

RM: I imagine if there was an Indy 500 held in May on simulators that NBC or NBCSN might consider airing it, but showing a few match races on NBCSN next month is probably going to be the extent of things in April.

Q: Miller, I know you don’t like this sim racing stuff, but the ratings are too good not to capitalize on, especially in the demographic that matters most. With the Indy 500 moved to August, there’s no IndyCar racing through most of May. That puts IndyCar in line to run a virtual Indy 500. They need to pull in as many current and former stars as they can. They need to run qualifying and bumping, and make a big show of it. There’s enough time to do this right, and I am willing to bet a virtual 500 on NBCSN can draw over one million viewers. Put a tenderloin sandwich on it? I’ll be at Indy in July and in August to make good.

I’ll start with a list of five people to invite: Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Paul Tracy. As an aside, F1 doesn’t currently have anything scheduled for those two weeks in August. While I expect that to change, I would love to have someone pose the question to Verstappen about a Red Bull entry if they can form a technical alliance with another Honda team like maybe Chip Ganassi Racing. McLaren has the equipment to run another entry for Lando as well. Make lemonade out of 2020.

Ryan in West Michigan

RM: As I said in the question above yours, Indy might be the only thing that ranks high enough for NBC to give it air time and treat it like a real race. And getting old heroes would make me more inclined to watch it, but can’t see any F1 guys being allowed to come run in August. Love to see Verstappen some day.

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