Q: Any chance the Speedway is going to follow baseball’s lead and allow fans to submit pictures for cardboard cutouts to fill the stands? They could even donate all the proceeds to a charity.
RM: From IMS president Doug Boles: “We’ve had a lot of people ask about that over the last week or so. At this point, we have made the decision to leave the seats empty until the real fans can sit back in them in 2021.”
Q: Major League Baseball has been doing it this season, how about IMS offering fans cutouts for sale for the 500? I know they like the ads banners, but what about Mount Rushmore of Indy 500 banners in all corners starting with all the four-time winners first? Great way to honor past winners, and fans can add their cutouts of family members, or even past ones. It’s not the ideal 500 this year but let’s make the best of it!
RM: Also from Boles: “We will likely do a couple of banners. However, if we do them, they will be focused upon Racing Capital of the World theme and maybe a couple of others. We essentially have to start printing them immediately in order to get them installed. We already have some IMS color banners up (where lower rows on Tower Terrace had been removed) and an America flag banner (driver’s right entry to T1 where it is bare concrete).”
Q: What do you think of the possibility of IMS eventually holding a round of the Formula E series, either on the road course or (as a first in the series overall) running the 2 1/2-mile oval? I recognize that the top speed of today’s E-Prix cars is about 175mph, and 200 for an Indy Lights car. But I’d think improvements in technology could add speed to the electric racers. Think people will come see these cars on an oval?
Al Mattei, formerly of Trenton, NJ
RM: I can’t imagine anyone coming to IMS to watch race cars that make no noise (the turbine had a distinct whoosh), and I can’t imagine Formula E spending the money to beef up their chassis to run an oval.
Q: Helio wants to come back to IndyCar. Awesome! But from what he has said, it appears his hopes of a fourth Penske car have been vetoed. Which seats are his realistic options for 2021? Does he bring any funding? Perhaps he can partner with Hinch and co-own Team Two-Step so both Dancing with the Stars alumni have a ride.
IndySteve in Redding, CA
RM: No idea what kind of options will be out there for 2021, but if he brings a sponsor I can promise you he’ll have a ride. He’s still got that desire and is in fabulous shape, but it’s going to be difficult to find anything comparable to what he’s had since 2000.
Q: So, we get through this year and start looking ahead. In a RACER article last week, Helio said he wants to continue racing and is open to different series. He also talks of IndyCar and would really like to win Indy a fourth time. He would love to race for The Captain, but understands that it may not happen. He sounds open to driving for someone else (a prospect I think I remember you have discounted in the past). Do you think Helio really meant he would drive for another Indy team? If so, do you see any opportunities for him (I assume he would need to bring a checkbook), and, if so, with what team(s)?
RM: He knows it won’t be with Team Penske, but at this point nobody knows that line-up for 2021 except Newgarden. I think Helio is serious about coming back to IndyCar, it’s just not going to be easy to find the kind of ride he’s used to. And I discounted it because I’m pretty sure his contract wouldn’t allow it.
Q: I’m beyond happy to have races this year given all that’s going on. However I don’t know how excited I am for three Indy GPs in one year. I would, however, be really interested in a second oval race at the Speedway. Not necessarily another 500. Maybe a 400, 325, 250. Or a twin 125. Your thoughts?
RM: Hell no. One oval race a year, with feeling, is all we need. That’s one of the few traditions still standing.
Q: My understanding is that Portland’s IndyCar contract was a three-year deal, from 2018 to 2020. With the cancellation of this year’s event, will the contract automatically roll over to next year, or do they have to renegotiate it? Is this different for each track with a cancelled 2020 date?
Matt, Bellingham, WA
RM: I don’t know and I’m not about to ask until this 2020 disaster is over for Green/Savoree, because who can predict which races will still be standing for 2021?