Welcome to this week’s installment of Robin Miller’s Mailbag! Questions for Robin can be sent to email@example.com. Due to the high volume of questions received, we can’t always guarantee that your letter will be printed, but Robin will get to as many as he can. Published questions have been edited for clarity.
Q: I applaud IndyCar so much for all they are trying to do to get a decent number of races in this year. But I have to wonder if Portland and Laguna Seca are going to go away due to the political leadership of those states. Do you think IndyCar is looking at other venues and times to try to add more races? I get that Barber does not want to have anything after college football starts, but am still amazed they are not trying to get a race back there during the summer. That venue and location are so much the fit and profile to have a race event at this year, much like Road America.
Forrester Morgan, Myrtle Beach, SC
RM: The Oregon governor said no large gatherings until Oct. 1 so of course Green/Savoree are concerned about it, but who knows what guidelines will be place in California in late September? Roger Penske is trying to line up at least 12-14 races, but obviously he’s at the mercy of the pandemic. But unless IndyCar gives away the sanction fee or rents a track, I can’t see any new ones being added for 2020.
Q: I went ahead and purchased a Bronze Badge for this 500. So I will be there for the whole show if fans are allowed. As the schedule stands now, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the race weekend, there is no track activity, so I’ll have a lot of free time on my hands. I know you’ve covered this before, but what are the things I should try to see during that time? I know there are race shops in Brownsburg, which I would like to go to. Are any of them open for visits? Do I need to coordinate a visit beforehand? I understand if I have to have a mask and gloves on and social distance, no issue there. I’ll make my annual pilgrimage through the IMS museum as well.
I received notification from Richmond Raceway that the June 27 event is canceled. Disappointing, as I had planned to take my five-year grandson to introduce him to the sport. Ordered everything I could so I could him as close to the cars and drivers as possible. He watched qualifying last year with me, and he just sat in front of the TV fixated on the cars, color, speed and noise. Obviously I’m disappointed, but I could see this coming for some time. The track has offered a 120% credit for future events in 2020 and 2021, or a full refund. I took the full refund, not knowing if IndyCar will be back in 2021, plus I’m not interested in NASCAR events. Do you think IndyCar will try to return to Richmond in 2021?
Dale Jones, Chesterfield, VA
RM: First off, Richmond has a two-year contract with IndyCar so hopefully everything is cool for 2021, and it was devastating for track president Dennis Bickmeier because he spent three years working on bringing open-wheel back to Virginia. As for what to do early in race week, I think teams have tours in the winter but probably not in season, because everyone (IndyCar and NHRA) are thrashing. But you might try Dallara on Main Street in Speedway.
Q: Hugely disappointed that the Richmond race was canceled, but it wasn’t a surprise given our inept state government. You’re much too polite to refer to (them) as being “most cautious.” Since the IndyCar contract is only for two years, does this mean that 2021 will be a one and done race, or will they extend the second year to 2022? Is two years a typical contract? If so, it’s no wonder we have difficulty rebuilding the fan base. Has any consideration ever been given to VIR? At this point I’d even welcome a temporary circuit. Stay well; I’m planning on meeting you face-to-face (with appropriate social distancing) next year.
Napalm Nick, Locust Grove, VA
RM: Most contracts are two to three years, but it’s impossible to predict what might happen at Richmond until we see the first race back. Never heard IndyCar talk about going to VIR, and I’m told a lot of money would have to be spent to make it a reality.
Q: Robin, why doesn’t Roger Penske listen to the internet warriors and take their advice when it comes to how to run the series and IMS? Clearly they know more about adjusting a schedule in the middle of a global pandemic, all while balancing the needs of the tracks, promoters, TV network, fans and teams. I think Roger could learn a lot from those with massive online followings! I hope my sarcasm was sensed via this letter.
David, Neenah, WI
RM: I know, what’s he ever done, right? I especially like the train of thought that IndyCar was asleep at the wheel and NASCAR won the race to be first back in action. Really? No, you have your first six races canceled or postponed and only get to run Texas in early June because The Captain knows how important it is to get started. He likely made Texas a great deal and now NBC is going to televise the race, so it could work out better than expected. And NASCAR has 36 races and owns most of its tracks, so its flexibility is obviously better in this pandemic.
Q: With NASCAR racing on a weeknight last week, will IndyCar follow suit and do weekday races, not counting races that are scheduled to Sunday and race on Monday because of weather?
Chris Fiegler, Latham, NY
RM: It’s been discussed, but nobody has pulled the trigger so it’s going to take one, brave oval track promoter and then get NBC’s blessing. Kevin Lee always suggested Wednesday or Thursday of the baseball All-Star game because there is no competition on TV and it should be a home run for ratings, but still requires a track to take a big chance.