Q: I think I am like every IndyCar fan when I say the best thing that has happened to IMS and the series in 50 years is Roger Penske taking it over. And I applaud his determination in making sure fans will be in attendance for the 500. This will make my 54th race, and there is no sporting event that I look more forward to. And I plan to go. But I will admit that I was disappointed when on one hand they “suggest” it would be “better” if those of us over 65 (I’m 71) would be safer to stay home, but then with the other hand they insist they plan to go forward with the Indianapolis market TV blackout. Everything that they are doing is because of the most serious health crises in almost 100 years, but that is the hill they want to die on?
If I knew it was going to televised live I would probably consider staying home. But being that I refuse to miss it, come heat, humidity, and health risk, I’ll drag my old ass into the track. Thanks for taking the time to listen.
Bob Putnam, Speedway, IN
RM: First off, I hope you have a seat with shade because I can’t imagine sitting in the sun in a bleacher for four hours, but your passion and support is certainly admirable. I’ve said this for a couple weeks, but if IMS decides to lift the blackout it’s likely not going to announce it until a few days before the race (like it did in 2016) because it’s still trying to sell tickets. I know NBC would like it because Indianapolis would drive up the ratings. So let’s wait and see.
Q: Watching NBC Sports Gold practice for the Indy GP, and Leigh and Paul are talking about Felix and his crash late in Texas. Paul is talking about patience and taking what you are given. Having just watched the 1993 Phoenix race where Paul crashed out late with a two-lap lead trying to put another lap on someone, I just had to start laughing. Leigh, playing the straight man, asked Paul something about that happening in his career, and Paul said something about Roger. Laughing too hard to hear it all, but it made my day. So happy they are doing the broadcasts.
Speaking of Paul, he accomplished so much but left so much on the table. Wicked fast, but prone to crashing. Probably should have been multiple champion, and he did win an Indy 500. Does he ever talk about regrets?
Mark, San Diego, CA
RM: Oh, hell yes, P.T. is very honest about his career and knows he threw away some races and at least one more championship, but can laugh at himself and that’s always refreshing. On the flipside, he probably doesn’t get enough credit for winning three times for R.P. in 1997 when that team was really struggling and he was running Goodyear tires against the superior Firestones.
Q: Since we probably won’t make a race this year, I’ve been trying to find more ways to support the series. I purchased the IndyCar Gold Pass and so far it’s been well worth the price. I also just placed an order for some IndyCar merchandise and, not surprisingly, the new online store is much better after the Penske touch. One of the items I bought is a Rahal jersey, and it got me thinking about how many sponsors most drivers have. Rahal is one driver that runs a decent number of liveries during the season. What kind of money does it take for the different sponsor levels (associate vs. primary some races vs. full season)?
Tate in Kansas
RM: Thanks for subscribing and being a loyal fan. RLL has been rotating sponsors for the past few seasons and it seems to work quite well. I have no idea what people pay, but I would imagine Indy is the most expensive for obvious reasons. And if you have the whole car or just the sidepod or a rear wing, they’re all different prices.
Q: Is there anything from this season’s schedule that has a chance staying next year or whenever things are back to “normal”? I get it’s more cost-effective for May when they’re already there, but I like the idea of the Indy GP on July 4th. If not that, any of the doubleheaders? I assume Detroit’s would stay once that returns but do any of the other tracks want to keep theirs?
Anthony, Shrewsbury, MA
RM: The doubleheaders at Road America, Iowa and Laguna Seca were born out of necessity to try and get to 13-14 races, so besides Detroit, I think the only other possible twin bill in 2021 would be an IndyCar/NASCAR show on an oval. But who knows if any of that trio this year would want to try two races next year?
Q: Barring injury or fatal accident, who are some of the drivers who you think should have made it to the big time in Indy cars, but for one reason or another, didn’t? One who comes to mind for me is Hurley Haywood. He was no stranger to high horsepower with experience in a 900hp Porsche 917-10K and various 800hp 935s. He was quick and with his endurance experience, he knew how to be there at the end. From what I can tell, he drove for smaller teams that did not have a lot in terms of resources and that makes it hard to stand out. So, who makes your list?
Don Hopings, Cathedral City, CA
RM: Tommy Kendall, Lee Bentham, David Empringham, Jon Fogarty, Jonathan Bomarito and Patrick Long would be at the top of my list, along with Chuck Gurney and Sleepy Tripp. Kendall was a sports car star that started in open wheel while the next four were either champions or winners (or both) in Formula Atlantic. Long made a good impression in Europe and it looked like he might land with Bobby Rahal before he got a full-time sports car gig. Gurney was a winner in midgets, sprints and dirt cars and only got a sniff once at Indy in a bad car, while USAC midget king Tripp never even got a taste. And I always thought Ronnie Shuman would have been damn good but his brief try (Ontario and Indy) was in an uncompetitive Indy car.