Q: It’s nice to have a true racer with great business skills in charge of IndyCar and IMS. I don’t know if it was Roger’s idea, but the historic IndyCars running four sessions at Road America during this weekend’s doubleheader is pure genius – that’s one way to make new fans. Do you know anything about potential plans to somehow assure that his vision for IndyCar and IMS carry on when he has to pass the baton?
Steve in MN
RM: Mike Lashnet’s Vintage Indy group runs will be at Road America and they run at Gateway every year and I think they’d run as many places as IndyCar wants and it certainly adds to the weekend – great memories for the old and a good way to educate kids on the old days. As for The Captain’s succession plan, I’m sure between Greg Penske, Bud Denker and Tim Cindric that everything will continue to move along nicely. But I don’t see R.P. slowing down until he’s 90.
Q: We were in Indy two weeks ago visiting my youngest and, like here, things sure are weird. Anyhow, I enjoyed your comments on R.P. and it was good of you to take a stand on the fussing. We had tickets for May, can’t go in August, so we’re hoping we’ll get a shot at 2021. During his CART days, I was not much of a Penske fan, but over the years I’ve revised my opinion. He clearly loves the sport, as you do, and has risked a lot to see it succeed. I’m sold!
Jon Jones, Oologah, OK
RM: The Captain has always put his money where his passion lies, whether it was investing in racetracks, propping up CART, being a steady supporter of American motorsports or buying IMS and IndyCar. I’m so glad he gave all you fans an option, and when you get here in 2021 you won’t believe how good it looks.
Q: What if the CDC by August implements a new restriction on large gatherings before August 23?
RM: I imagine the Indy 500 would be moved to Oct. 3.
Q: Read your Cancel the Whine Club Membership column. So have any of those bitching and moaning provided any realistic option besides pretending COVID does not exist and just letting everyone in, or is it the classic complaining about something without providing a solution approach? Going out on a limb here that Roger Penske and his team may have just run through one or two more scenarios and weighed a few more pros and cons than those complaining.
Is it optimal? No. But given the circumstances, it is as good as you can do, and they are going through an administrative nightmare by polling everyone and then reassigning as many as 125,000 to 130,000 seats. Much better than an arbitrary lottery or going by seniority that could have upset a lot of ticket holders. Sounds like anyone who has already purchased a reserved seat will be able to attend, which is as much as anyone could possibly hope for. Let’s just hope people behave themselves over the next several weeks so all of this isn’t for naught.
Don Weidig, Canton, OH
RM: None of the gripes I received offered any alternatives that made more sense than Penske’s plan. Something like this could easily be a no-win situation for the paying customers, but I thought the ticket distribution and rollover options were about as fair and sensible as anyone could expect.
Q: You are a betting man. If you were to set the line in Vegas what would be the over/under for fans at the 500?
RM: I’d say 125,000 counting suites and infield.
Q: I’ve attended 72 Indy 500s in a row and here’s what IMS is doing for me. I currently have seven Paddock Penthouse tickets together in rows 1-2 of Section 12. They have allowed me to keep five of those seven. I have four in the Paddock below us, and they have allowed me to keep two, and I have four in the Southwest Vista and they have allowed me to keep two. I have two in the Northwest Vista and they have allowed me to keep both of those. I went ahead and told them I would take all of those they allowed me, and to apply the balance for next year. I think that is very fair on their part.
Here are my thoughts. The last few years, not including 2016, the 100th Anniversary year, it appeared that there were about 20%-30% empty seats scattered around. In addition, they have undoubtedly not been selling any new seat orders since they announced the postponement of the race. I would think that in normal times that might be as much as 10% additional sales. Then there are many people who may not be able to attend due to the new date. For example, our daughter is extremely disappointed because she is a fourth grade teacher starting school the very next day, and feels she has too much to do to prepare to be gone that weekend. Then add in those people who just won’t to be out in that large of a crowd that soon.
Put all of that together, and I believe that the Speedway feels comfortable that they are not going to make a lot of people mad by reducing the allowed attendance to 50%. For me, I think they have been fair in allowing me to have 11 of the 17 tickets I own. In any case, I am looking forward to my 73rd 500 in a row. When your ship is in rough waters, you want the very best captain to be at the helm. I agree with your analysis that Roger Penske is the very best captain to be in charge of IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Butch Welsch, St. Louis, MO
RM: Damn, 73 Indys in a row, that’s amazing and impressive and I’m glad you feel you were treated fairly by IMS. But seats are still being sold for Aug. 23, and I think your analysis is correct – always been empty seats low in corners and short chute, and half-full would likely be the biggest sporting crowd of 2020. Thanks for seven decades of supporting Indianapolis.