Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.
Questions for Robin can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of RACER or Honda/HPD.
Q: I have more questions than comments or answers. 1) What is the go or no-go drop dead date for August 23rd? 2) Realizing that many folks have their own individual concerns regarding the pandemic and their own comfort level with risk, will IMS offer any fan who is uncomfortable with attending a refund or credit for the 2021 race? 3) I purchased a Bronze Badge; however with concerns with virus spread, will I still be able to be able to enter the garage area daily, except on race day? 4) Has IMS analyzed the data on where their fans are coming from? Being that everything was mailed out, I would think this would be an easy task. Would be good to know if folks are coming from areas that are currently spiking.
Dale Chesterfield, VA
RM: There is none. R.P. is committed to August 23 because IMS provides the necessary room for social distancing. Yes, if you don’t feel comfortable you can apply your credit to 2021 tickets. The Bronze Badge decision has yet to be made. I’m sure IMS knows how many actual ticket holders they have and where they’re from, but this week they’re just trying to get a handle on which ones will be attending. And if several people came from Texas, Arizona or Florida, would that prevent you or anyone else from going?
Q: I’m as big Indy fan as the next guy. But putting 200,000 people on the Indy grounds in August is ridiculous. Far too soon. Thoughts?
RM: First off all, it’s not going to be 200,000 – likely a lot closer to 125,000 – and IMS is one of the few places that could accommodate that many people and still safety space them. If they wear masks (which IMS will provide) then the risks are reduced, so I don’t think it’s too soon.
Q: Indy will limit attendance to 50% and run in late August. Simple question. Is a gathering of 125,000 people in one place, in a nation with an abysmal record of battling COVID-19, sensible? (My answer: No! I won’t be driving down from Canada this year for the race.)
RM: That’s why Roger Penske has given you the option of showing up or putting your money towards next year’s race without losing your seniority.
Q: With all the talk about refunds or credit for ticket holders for the Indianapolis 500 who are unable or unwilling to attend, will there be any refunds or credit for holders of Bronze Badges who are either unable or leery of attending this year due to the COVID-19 situation? Being in the high risk category (65 plus underlying health conditions) and with the date change, we will not be attending this year. I think that some kind of credit should be given due to the changes made and the uncertainty of even running the race in August.
Also, on a different note, it would be nice to do a video of all the changes that have been done to the Speedway since Roger Penske took over. You could show the renovated restrooms, paved parking, improved concessions and all the other changes and improvements that have been made. It would be nice to see the changes, as we won’t be attending this year. Stay safe and keep doing a great job.
Jerry, Pittsburgh, PA
RM: IMS President Doug Boles says the Bronze Badge situation will be addressed after the Brickyard weekend, and IMS will decide about usage and/or credits. I think IMS will be releasing a video of all the improvements today and we’ll run it on RACER.com.
Q: IMS seems to be doing right thing as far as COVID-19 measures. I always drive down from Michigan with Bronze Badge in hand for first week of practice. I’m wondering if I can defer my badge for next year – not sure if garages will be open for public. I don’t want to be on grounds for a week with no access. I already have my badge. Not sure if wife will be happy with me attending this year. Looks like I will be doing NBC Gold this year.
Dave, Holland, MI (via Terre Haute)
RM: The decision on fans in Gasoline Alley hasn’t been made yet so that will obviously impact the badge situation, but from talking to Doug Boles it sounds like it could be a typical May in August with regards to Bronze Badges. Might be some race day restrictions.
Q: I just received a wonderful telephone call from a very nice woman (Linda Price) at IMS. The Speedway is issuing us a credit that will be good until 2023 for this year’s 500. I can’t thank you enough for pointing us in the right direction. Take care, and I will be following your column.
John and Dottie Sedlak, Venice, FL
RM: Linda and her staff worked all weekend and have quite a task to relocate people, grant refunds and print new tickets, but she’s a trooper. Glad IMS and R.P. gave you the option.
Q: Do you really think IMS will still allow fans to attend Carb Day? They’re taking extraordinary measures on welcoming and social-distancing 175,000 fans. Would they allow 50,000-70,000 fans in as general admission with no control? And wouldn’t be the same for general admission infield fans on race day? Will Carb Day likely wind up being a closed practice session?
Fred Cunningham, Simpsonville, SC
RM: Well there’s no Indy Lights race and no concert, so I don’t think the crowd will be anything like years past, but fans will be admitted to Carb Day, according to Doug Boles.
Q: So Miller, Penske comes to you and says ‘We want your opinion on how to run the Indy 500 this year.’ Knowing your answer will probably be wrong I’m sure he should do the opposite, but what have you got?
RM: Why would you want my answer if it’s the wrong one? I would do exactly what The Captain is doing.