Q: I’m a long-time reader and fan. I was planning to go to the 500 for the first time this year. Hopefully it will be open to spectators in August. As far as iRacing, I was hardly interested in it but after viewing it, I want my own sim!
As an idea, would it not be in IndyCar’s best interest to set up a league in the off-season to keep fan interest up? Why not have a series with the drivers and feature tracks like Silverstone, Spa, Turkey, Nurburgring, Suzuka and Bathurst? Indy could also promote a Drive to IndyCar event iRacing in October and November for amateurs. The top three-six in the points would get slots in the league with the regular drivers. It would be a great feature on the IndyCar app. Then in January to February, hold the series with the drivers and amateurs with a purse (or a prize of a trip to the 500) for highest amateur. Any good idea to promote the IndyCar series is needed. Hopefully the season gets going soon!
Jim Colflesh, Reading, PA
RM: I think there’s a distinct possibility something like this could happen because of the sudden interest, and when you don’t race for six months, anything to keep you on the radar has to help.
Q: I continue to watch old races from the CART/Champ Car days during this quarantine, specifically from the 2006 season when A.J. Allmendinger came to Forsythe and won the first three races he drove for them, and ended up winning five total that season. I can’t help but wonder why on earth he would go to NASCAR in 2007 after the kind of season he had in Champ Car? He was easily going to be one of the best drivers in open-wheel, there’s no doubt about it, and he completely threw his motorsports career away by leaving. Was it because of money? I mean, come on, you don’t just win five races in a season and call it quits.
Paul, Lake In The Hills, IL
RM: It was mind-numbing that he would leave Champ Car and Michael Cannon to go try NASCAR, because he had jumped in and started beating Sebastien Bourdais. I do think it had something to do with Gerry Forsythe not wanting to pay him accordingly, and there also might have been some pressure from Red Bull, but it was not a good career move – even though he probably made a lot more money in NASCAR.
Q: As we all go a little stir crazy with no real racing action (although I have enjoyed the sim racing much more than expected), I was wondering where all the female racers have gone in IndyCar? There’s no doubt that Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick were some of the most popular racers when they competed, and it seems like IndyCar has lost something without the women competing. IndyCar is one of the few sports where men and women can compete on equal terms (at least theoretically), which certainly helps its fan appeal. Are there any women in the lower ranks or elsewhere that you think will move over to IndyCar in the near future?
Ed, Hickory Hills
RM: Katherine Legge is certainly capable but just needs a ride, while Holley Holland and Kaylee Bryson are coming up the USAC midget ranks for Keith Kunz. I think I saw somewhere Pippa Mann said this would be the first time in 20 years no women are entered at Indianapolis – quite a streak. But the hottest female on four wheels may be Hailie Deegan, who has Monster Energy behind her stock car career.
Q: My first race was 1970 at DuQuoin, Illinois where I watched Al Unser pass A.J. Foyt for the win and A.J. then rolled his car. I remember it like it was yesterday. I then became a lifelong fan. I was five when my Dad took me to that race. I have been watching the old 500s on YouTube and I now realize just how close A.J. Foyt was to that fifth Indy win.
In 1982, he was fast and smooth and the transmission breaking had nothing to do with the crash at the start. But when A.J. took the lead on the restart, not knowing the condition of handling on the car, was the greatest A.J. moment for me. Also, he was the car to beat for the first half of that race. Where there other 500s after 1977 where Foyt was closer to victory than we realize – or was 1982 really the last year he was competitive?
RM: That was impressive, leaning on that suspension not knowing how it’s going to respond, but alas, that was A.J.’s final time leading Indianapolis. In 1991 he qualified in the middle of Row 1, but was no match for Mears or Michael that day.