Q: Do you happen to know why the 500 starting time has been pushed to 2:30? It will be interesting to see how different the place feels with 25% fewer fans and probably not much pre-race ceremonies. That is part of the overall feel of the race. Although I am looking forward to less hassle, and I’m really there for the racing on my favorite track.
P.S. I met you two years ago at Portland with my dad, Terry Dischinger.
RM: Here’s an answer from IMS president Doug Boles: “Start time was determined as we worked with NBC and the network window that was available. NBC is also looking for time ahead of the green flag to build the storylines. And, while pre-race will be different, it is still important.”
It was great talking to your dad, one of Purdue basketball’s all-time greats and a big IndyCar fan.
Q: Will there be any surprise entries for the 500? JPM or Seabass?
Dan, Lima, OH
RM: Doesn’t look likely, unless The Captain needs to add a car to make 33.
Q: Do you know or can you ask the Speedway what activities are being planned for Legends Day (Saturday of 500 weekend) this year given the pandemic? Specifically if the memorabilia show is taking place near the Pagoda? I always like wasting two hours of my time getting something from the show on race weekend.
RM: Unfortunately Legends Day has been cancelled, so no autograph session or memorabilia show. It saved Marshall and I $500 each, but I’ll miss it.
Q: In my many, many years of following IndyCar I have never seen a public political statement made by a driver, a team owner, an engineer or even a mechanic. Thus, I suspect the series has a policy against making them. You have the ear of Mr. Penske. If this is the case, tell him to please keep it in place! We’ve all seen a diminishment of the fan base of the MLB, the NFL and the NBA in recent days. I suspect a good reason for that is partly the rampant politics on display in those sports.
I hugely admire all the IndyCar folks for their talent and tenacity and the last thing I want is to find out that some of them are jerks when it comes to their politics. I don’t want and don’t need to know! Let them save their politics for their friends and family, just like all the rest of us. And that goes for Dan Anderson and the Road to Indy, too. Let’s please keep this sport apolitical!
Mark, San Marcos, TX
RM: Well back in 1970, Art Pollard and the Unser brothers did a commercial endorsing Richard Lugar for Mayor of Indianapolis, but that’s the only one I can recall. But R.P. doesn’t need me or you or anyone else to advise him on policies, politics and protocol – he’s got a pretty good grasp of everything.
Q: Given what Jimmie Johnson said, the best thing that could happen to the Indy 500 is to have him, Fred, the Busch brothers, and Jeff Gordon running next year. You know Gordon deep down really wants to run the race, and it sure would bring in some fans and make the ratings go up. Come on sponsors and engine makers, lighten up; let the real racers race. A.J., Mario, Big Al, Uncle Bobby, the Vukys, etc. all were better because of all the different racing they did, so why not now?
Tom in Waco
RM: I can assure you that Jeff Gordon will not be competing in the Indianapolis 500. The old days didn’t have binding contracts like today, and drivers could drive anything, anytime, anywhere.
Q: What are the chances we see Jimmy Johnson in an IndyCar next year?
RM: How about 80-20 he gets to run a couple road courses.
Q: With Road to Indy heading to NJ Motorsports Park, what about the big cars? Any chance they can race there? I live in NY and have never been there. We need an East Coast IndyCar race. If not there or The Glen, is there anyplace that would work?
RM: IndyCar checked it out a few years ago but hasn’t been back, and it’s highly unlikely – too much work to make it work for IndyCar. The Glen would be everyone’s choice if a proper date and title sponsor could be secured.
Q: Is there any chance that IndyCar will ever run at Road Atlanta? The track length is comparable to IMS road course; many of us diehard fans would love to see more natural road courses on the schedule.
Eric Normington, Brookston, IN
RM: Not without some major modifications, and you can’t blame RA because they have a great turnout for Petite Le Mans so why spend the money? Maybe if IndyCar paid half, but it’s a helluva layout.
Q: I’m glad Roger Penske bought IndyCar, but I’m starting to have some concerns with the series even going forward when COVID-19 starts to die down in 2021. Now, it would be great if Ferrari or another OEM comes to IndyCar, but if the series is set to lose another race in the schedule in COTA, they can’t seem to get a race in the Northeastern part of the U.S. like Watkins Glen, New Hampshire and New Jersey Motorsports Park to replace it. It doesn’t seem that IndyCar can add a second race in Canada or in Mexico, or at least expand to 20 races. If he would have bought the IMS back in 1979 I really believe that IndyCar/IMS would be the envy of Bill France in NASCAR and Bernie Ecclestone, who once was the head of F1. Does Roger have time to turn around IndyCar? I hope he does, but it’s looking kind of cloudy going forward.
Alistair, Springfield, MO
RM: Good lord man, what do you expect in eight months? He’s figured out how to get a respectable number of races, and spent a fortune, and every day there’s another obstacle. He’ll grow the schedule if it’s beneficial, but he’s not going to add on races just for numbers. He’s evidently got Ferrari’s ear while trying to save the Indy 500, so I’d say let’s give him a couple years.
Q: I know Roger Penske is focused on the near-term in refreshing and prepping IMS for the 2020 races, as he should be, but have you heard of any long-term plans or interests? At various times we’ve heard about new or refurbished suites, trackside condos or a new hotel/conference center.
Scott Cooper, Bargersville, IN
RM: He’s on the record of exploring F1 and sports cars, and there’s a thought he might want to build a new museum across the street. And you know there will be continuous upgrades for the paying customers but he’s kinda busy right now with that Indy thing and trying to get a season in, so all that other stuff is on the back burner.