Robin Miller's Mailbag for June 17, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Illustration by Paul Laguette

Robin Miller's Mailbag for June 17, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for June 17, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: Still waiting on Iowa. I haven’t received tickets yet, and nothing has changed on its website. I’m guessing they’ll announce something by this Friday, it being one month out, since that was the timetable with Texas, Richmond and Indy GP announcing either no spectators or cancellation.

Andrew McNaughton, Chicago

RM: There is supposed to be an announcement on Friday.

Q: With Oregon’s governor not backing off her ban on big events until at least the end of September, my question is when is the “drop dead” date on canceling the Portland IndyCar race if they can’t have fans?

Jerry Liudahl

RM: Here’s what I’ve been told: “No date has been established and the Grand Prix of Portland remains on the IndyCar schedule.”

Q: I am curious to know what insight you have on next year’s schedule. You mentioned that you doubt COTA will be returning. If so, is there another track not currently on the schedule that can take its place, or will they move a current race to its spot on the schedule? Or will they simply move St. Pete, Barber, and Long Beach slightly later in the schedule to close the gap between those races and the Indy races? I was also wondering if Richmond or Elkhart Lake would have to move their dates, given that the Indy 500 would be May 30, which would seem to place Elkhart Lake on Father’s Day weekend and/or Richmond on July 4 weekend?

Kevin in CA

RM: IndyCar is just trying to weather all the obstacles for 2020 and make sure they can pull off 12-15 races, so 2021 isn’t on anyone’s radar right now. Long Beach is scheduled for April 16-19, 2021 and the Indy 500 will be May 30, 2021 –– that’s all I know for sure.

Q: What is the impact on IMSA and IndyCar race at Laguna Seca if there may not be any volunteers to support the track? If this includes the course marshals, it would be hard to hold a race.

Frank Vessell, Phoenix, AZ

RM: Volunteers are the backbone of any race and it sounds like the new Laguna boss has alienated just about everyone – including some of the heavy hitters.

Laguna Seca produced a good IndyCar race last year, but there was certainly a lot less off-track drama during the Sonoma era. Image by Scott LePage/Motorsport Images

Q: Kudos to NASCAR President Steve Phelps for banning the Confederate flag at racing events, though it took a long time do so. Now, I’m an African American, I’ve attended IndyCar racing events with my parents or are fans of the series for 30 years, and believe it or not, unless I’m blind as hell, I’ve never seen a Confederate flag waving in the infield during the Indy 500 or other IndyCar events. When did IndyCar ban Confederate flags in their events?

Also, I really hope R.P. and COTA can work out a deal to have IndyCar race there, because me and my parents were suppose to be in Austin for the race until it got postponed because of COVID-19. I also hope the IndyCar Series will expand to 20 races next year, because 17 races is way too short for a race season.

Alistair F.

RM: I don’t think there are any rules about flags in IndyCar because it’s never been an issue. To be honest, the only time I recall seeing Confederate flags was when I was covering Daytona and Talladega, but I never went to all the races so they may have been prevalent in many of NASCAR’s infield crowds.

Q: So, I have been following the latest NASCAR rules which apply to the displaying of Confederate flags at their events and proper conduct during the playing of our national anthem. It appears that the vast majority of the comments that I have read from fans are about the flag issue, but not very many regarding the national anthem conduct for team members.

Let me just say that I personally don’t care what anyone’s individual thoughts are regarding our national anthem. It is something that many have fought and died for, and it deserves our attention and respect. I have been to the Indy 500 several times and do not ever recall any disrespectful behavior in my section of the stands or on the starting grid. I sincerely hope that IndyCar does not follow NASCAR’s lead in allowing any type of demeaning behavior during the playing of our anthem. I am not a flag-waving patriot, but I do have strong feelings about proper respect for our country and for all the service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have.

I don’t know if IndyCar has an official position on this issue, but I hope that the IndyCar team members will stay the course and give our anthem the respect it deserves. Every time I have attended the Indy 500 I was moved to see several hundred thousand fans and participants stand with their hats removed and be so quiet that you could literally hear a pin drop during the opening ceremonies. I know this is a touchy subject because if anyone voices an opinion that is not in line with what the mob thinks then you are labeled a racist or some other derogatory term, but I would like to hear what you think on this subject. If you chose not to delve into this, then I understand completely.

Paul in AZ, Proud Army veteran (1966-1968)

RM: I haven’t heard any discussion about the flags, anthem or how IndyCar is going to react if anybody decides to kneel. But I can tell you that I think veterans like yourself have a reverence for the flag and anthem that people who didn’t serve may not. I can understand why African Americans are offended by the Confederate flag just like I understand why Vietnam or Iraq vets are angered by athletes kneeling during the national anthem. The jocks are saying it’s not about the flag or patriotism, but obviously that’s not how a lot of Americans look at it. I guess my undying memory of what the flag means to some came after 9/11 in Germany. During the national anthem at the CART race, all the teams held the American flag and several of the mechanics were crying, and it was pretty powerful because they were a long way from home and unsure about what was going to happen, but felt unified by a song and a flag.