Q: Back in November 2019, shortly after the announcement Roger Penske and Penske Entertainment were purchasing IMS and its related assets, there was some talk of Penske Entertainment taking on additional investors and establishing an oversight board. Since then I have heard nothing on either the additional inventors or the board. Do you know of anything on this you can share?
Mark S. Graham, Naperville, IL
RM: I haven’t heard a thing, but wouldn’t John Menard be a good silent partner?
Q: What happened to R.P. saying no fans, no race even if it meant moving the race to September-October? R.P. doesn’t get that for many fans like myself, their consecutive race streak is a badge of honor – me since 1982. Perhaps R.P. didn’t hear Little Al say after winning “you just don’t know what Indy means.” I know there are those who say it isn’t worth the risk, I get that so they should stay home and the rest of us take the risk knowingly and get to enjoy our annual pilgrimage to the hallowed grounds. A man is only as good as his word.
RM: R.P. actually never said that, I think it was Mark Miles, but we all assumed that would be the plan until we found out it wasn’t going to work for television in October. I think Penske has shown his commitment and then some during the past six months, but I know he’s not happy there won’t be fans on Aug. 23.
Q: 2020 will go down as one big excrement sandwich, on so many levels. My race attendance schedule has been destroyed this year. One of the few bright spots in the racing world is that IndyCar is being steered by The Captain. I really am extremely grateful to him and his entire organization for their dedication and commitment (that also means cash) to the sport I love. As for any nattering nabobs of negativity out there, they can piss off. See what I did there? A little British vulgarity in honor of our international friends.
Brian Bristo, stuck in London, Canada
RM: I was talking with Rick Mears this morning about how insane it is that people are throwing down on R.P. after all he’s done so far in 2020 to keep IndyCar afloat. But even as powerful and smart as he is, he cannot control the pandemic and restrictions it brings, he’s just trying to make the best of a bad situation.
Q: I have a strong desire to kick in $50 towards the Indy 500 purse. I’m so glad IndyCar has R.P. at the helm that I’m willing to do my small part to show my appreciation for him and the teams. Do you think there is enough others out there like me that it would it pay to try organize some type of crowdfunding towards the purse? I have no problem spending $50 weekly to take my family to Slinger Super Speedway for some short track action. I watch Indy for free, I feel like doing my part for Indy as I do for my local tracks.
Craig Claerbout, Slinger, USA, (and not too far from Road America)
RM: That’s a very kind gesture and suggestion, but with all the people struggling to keep jobs or find one, probably not a good time to be asking for donations to a rich man’s game. A longtime fan named Bob Strawser has the same idea and it just seeks like the timing isn’t right. But keep supporting Slinger, what a great track.
Q: Essentially I get to attend next year for free. This year’s fee will be applied to next year’s tickets, and I will be watching from home free of charge. So here is a challenge to the 160,000 ticket holders as of March 1. Donate $100 to the prize fund. It will take 75,000 of us to make up the $7.5 million. Robin, get the ball rolling on this.
RM: You fans have been patient, tolerant and supportive in the face of all this uncertainty, and like I said in the letter above yours, just don’t feel comfortable asking anyone to donate money when so many people are struggling. But I admire your passion.
Q: Are any practice days available for the public or is the entire facility closed to fans every day?
RM: Closed every day. Sorry.
Q: What is the plan if the Indy 500 gets rained out August 23rd?
Bob Gray, Woodland Hills
RM: Next available day – Aug. 24.
Q: Has IndyCar floated the idea if more then 33 cars enter this year’s Indy 500, letting then all race? As crazy as this year has been and the fact there won’t be fans, why not let everyone who enters run the race? I assume there is enough pit space for more then 33 since NASCAR has 40 plus.
Brad Heuer, Idaho
RM: I imagine if 34 showed up they might start ’em all, but that will not be an issue.
Q: Are you aware of what they’ll be doing at the Speedway besides the race itself? How much pre-race hoopla will be retained? The marching bands will be out, but will they still release the balloons, have an invocation, and above all, have someone sing ‘Back Home Again, In Indiana’ over those acres of empty grandstands? I’m from Canada and visit Indiana just two days a year, but that song, floating out over a massive packed grandstands under a big Midwest sky, gives me the chills every time.
RM: I don’t believe the order of the day has been posted yet but there won’t be any balloons and I can’t imagine having too much entertainment for all those empty seats. Maybe just a good rendition of “Back Home Again in Indiana” for NBC.