Q: I enjoyed the Texas race. The lack of a crowd had no effect. Did I notice that the stands were empty? Sure, but the larger the venue (Road America?), the less that will be the case. Maybe the networks could do what the Esports folks do and use digital fans. One day for practice, qualifying and race. You know very well that is what they do at every local track in the U.S. It seems that the higher up the ladder we go, the more the practice sessions grow. Every year there is a call to lessen the cost of racing. How about at least one less day at the track? There are a lot of moving parts to the puzzle, but I did not see any difference between this year’s and last year’s race.
RM: When I started going to USAC races in the ’60s every event was one-day, but street and road courses changed that dynamic and made it a weekend festival. Richmond is going to want two days to bring IndyCar back in 2021, Gateway has two days worth of non-stop action every year so I doubt if it wants to change, and Iowa has added a doubleheader this year so not sure there’s going to be a trend to change. I know it’s cheaper for the teams and I always thought it ramped up the energy, but it’s not real popular.
Q: So they not allowing fans at three races where social distancing probably would never have been a big problem, but say they may have fans at the Indy 500 with social distancing. I would like to know how they expect to accomplish that?
You have people who buy tickets every year and sit right next to each other up in the grandstands year after year. How are you going to get them six feet apart? Are you going to disallow certain person’s tickets? No infield parking, no concerts, no Snake Pit? Personally I think they just need to have people sign some kind of additional liability issue that if they’re going, they’re not going blame the speedway if they get a cough or a cold or COVID-19. You’re not going to be able to do social distancing and have the Indy 500.
I looked up October’s weather from last year, and the average temperature for the month was in the low 50s. We all know what happened in 1992 when we had a race under those circumstances, so I do not think that’s an option. Personally I think it’s way overblown — we have had more dangerous diseases than this in our lifetime and never went to these crazy measures.
RM: Roger Penske said he wasn’t going to run Indy without fans, but he never mentioned social distancing in our conversation last Saturday because he’s not sure what the rules will be by the end of August, and neither is anyone else. So my suggestion is to relax and let’s see what happens, because this is all new territory. And October is merely a back-up date in case August isn’t ready to accept fans at sporting events.
Q: NASCAR has been practicing social distancing in the grandstands for years! I was hoping that would run the Brickyard 400 with their fans as a trial run. You know, use the fans as guinea pigs. I know that is mean – but so much fun!
RM: It did seem like the Brickyard would have been perfect for spreading 30,000 people over 200,000 seats, but R.P. said he didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the Indy 500.
Q: It was amazing that the season started, good race. My question is, and I know it’s hard to predict the ‘if’, but what you think if RP hasn’t bought the series, do you think the Hulman/George family would have been able to keep the series going because of the COVID 19?
Guillermo Calvillo, Winter Haven, FL
RM: Tony George spend a lot of money keeping the Indy Racing League up and running and was the impetus behind the Leaders Circle so, yes, I think IMS meant so much to his family that they would have done whatever necessary to survive.
Q: Supposing Indy 500 activities go off without a hitch, is IMS planning on dropping the price of a Carb Day ticket? With no Freedom 100 or concerts, it’s hard to justify spending $30 for a 90-minute practice session.
Kris, Kokomo, IN
RM: Haven’t received any news about whether there are other plans for Carb Day, but I wouldn’t count on the price being dropped.
Q: Good ratings for the Texas race. Why not do another race before the doubleheader? Roger said he would spend money to make money. Have it at Indy. IndyCar is a hot topic right now, and with the announcement of talks with Ferrari, I think it’s a wasted opportunity to go a month without a race.
RM: Nobody is going to throw a race together in a couple weeks, even if no spectators were allowed. And you have to have a television platform, and NBC and NBCSN have already got June and July planned.
Q: Are the position display LEDs dead? If IMSA can do it, why can’t IndyCar? So the NASCAR traction compound actually reduces the coefficient of friction? Next time, save money by spreading used gear oil. I guess the look of the windscreen is just going to have to grow on me. We missed seeing/hearing you on the broadcast. Noticed the condo dwellers shoulder to shoulder with nary a mask among them. Oh, wait, it’s Texas. It’s time to get rid of the six-shooter in victory lane.
Rick in Lisle, IL
RM: IndyCar’s LEDs were haunted and likely not coming back – ever. Gear oil might have been a better option. Don’t think Eddie Gossage will ever quit firing guns and shooting fire – that’s the Texas trademark.
Q: Did the Texas governor bar you from entering Texas? I missed your to-the-point comments and questions.
RM: No, not yet, but thanks for missing me. NBC was limited in personnel and Marty and Kelli are two of the full-time pit reporters and they did a good job under boiling conditions in what had to be a very long day.