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


Q: I really enjoyed your call with Uncle Bobby. I would love to see you do something similar with some of the other veterans… starting with Foyt! But I’d also love to hear from the likes of Tracy, Castroneves, and others who are no longer racing in the series on a regular. Also, I recently purchased 14 Autocourse yearbooks and during this period of no racing, I find them to be a great read. What are your thoughts on the IndyCar/CART/Champ Car books they released as far as quality and information?

Dunivan Savage, Los Angeles

RM: Marshall and I did a long interview with A.J. a few years ago and hopefully that can run again on sometime. We also did a good one with Mario and a hilarious 90 minutes with Uncle Bobby on Pikes Peak. I bought several Autocourse yearbooks because they were well written with great photos and lots of information. I still use them for reference. [ED: If you want to ask Helio a question directly, there’s an excellent chance he’ll answer you in our upcoming Acura Team Penske Guest Mailbag].

Q: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your conversation with Bobby Unser, but his references to Rufus puzzled me a little. Put it down to being in the UK and only taking an interest in U.S. racing in the late ’70s, but I cannot recall a driver with that name. I would appreciate you enlightening me as to whom he is referring.

Mark Jones, Chester, England

RM: Sorry it’s Rufus “Parnell” Jones – aka Parnelli.

Q: Watched Racing Scene from 1971 with James Garner the other night. James was another Hollywood actor that was bitten by the racing bug (more as an owner). Seems his driver was Scooter Patrick. There was a lot of footage of Scooter racing in Formula A (I’m guessing the forerunner of Formula 5000). To your knowledge, did Scooter race in the IndyCar Series or the Indy 500? Seems like a guy who would race anything they would stick under his butt.

Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA

RM: He won the last Can-Am race in 1974 at Road America in a McLaren M-20 and was a very successful sports car racer for 20 years. But he finished 19th at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1970 in his only IndyCar start.

Q: My memory was better in the ’70s but I am sure I watched a Formula A (remember them?) race at Sebring that was full of Indy and sports car drivers that included a Lotus 49 (?) F1 powered by the Cosworth 3-liter. I think the driver was Gus Hutcherson. He placed third in both heats. It was a real treat hearing that little cammer grab two gears down the straight as the 5-liter stock blocks grumbled through one shift.

Larry Martin (DeltaVee)

RM: There was the Questor Grand Prix at Ontario in 1971 that pitted F1 cars against F5000. Then in 1974 at Phoenix Sam Posey ran all day and finished 17 laps behind, so that was the end of that experiment.

The Questor GP – cool idea, but probably not much fun if you were strapped into an F5000 car watching the F1 cars vanish down the road. Image by LAT

Q: In last week’s Mailbag you mentioned that the ’64 Indy 500 was your first time sitting in the grandstands. Were you anywhere near the MacDonald and Sachs accident? The video is disturbing, and it is the most horrifying racing accident I’ve ever seen. I often wondered how the people in that section of the track ever got over what they saw that day. Being there yourself, what do you recall and what impact did it have on you?

Mo J.

RM: We were sitting right across from the spot where Ronnie Duman bailed out of his burning car and rolled on the ground trying to extinguish the fire. I just remember seeing the burning tire fly through the air and thinking it must have gone into the grandstands (but thankfully it didn’t). It shook up my mom (her first and only Indy 500) and my friend who went with us wanted to go home, but I begged my dad to stay, and we did until halfway. I guess the only impact it had was that I knew it was very dangerous, but I was hooked.

Q: If Paul Tracy really did win the 500, why doesn’t somebody do something?

Seriously. With modern technology. Conspiracy theories! I mean if it was a miscarriage of justice, Roger should fix it. Thoughts? Not trying to stir up trouble, I don’t even like the guy.

Dano, Lima, OH

RM: Barry Green officially protested, supposedly proved it with the video he constructed and then Tony George disallowed the protest. Fix it now? Too late. And besides, you think R.P. is going to reverse the decision?

Q: My four-night August hotel reservation in Indianapolis is $175 cheaper than my May reservation was. I hope your readers are as fortunate; the rates will probably soon elevate. Anyway, will there still be a memorabilia show on Legends Day for the August running? Changing the subject, there’s a cute Aussie movie available on Netflix called Go Kart with a Karate Kid-type plot. I think the movie does a nice job of introducing kids to racing, and us race fans can promote racing by spreading the word about the movie. Have you seen it, Robin? I am curious if any of the kart-background IndyCar drivers have seen it (especially Will Power and, of course, kart-track owner Sarah Fisher) and what their thoughts were.

Mark, Altus, Oklahoma

RM: Glad to hear, but I’m told they’ve already gone up so good for your timing. Yes there will be a Legends Day on August 22. And hopefully the memorabilia show will be in place so Marshall and I can each spend $500. Haven’t seen it, but I’ll ask Willy P.

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