Q: I’m a long time Northeastern race fan. I’ve been to all the Nazareth IndyCar, Champ Car and USAC races going back to the days when it was dirt, as well as many of the Trenton and Pocono races. IndyCar racing has been pretty thin around here lately, and we have a racy one-mile oval at Loudon, NH that was built for open-wheel racing just sitting here with one NASCAR Cup date.
With the pandemic hitting the schedule hard this year, and Roger having difficulty get 14 races on the docket, any chance of him joining an existing race weekend at Loudon on September 13th? There’s a big Modified race on the weekend of September 11 & 12. All the track support personnel, concessions and infrastructure will already be there, and NBCSN will already be there for the Modifieds and ARCA Menards race. There is absolutely no major sporting events happening on the 13th (at least nothing that I’ve seen scheduled for NBC), and the NASCAR Cup won’t conflict because they run on Saturday. The NH Governor allowed the NHMS to run the Cup race with fans, and the Modified race is running with fans on September 12. IndyCar on the 13th seems like a natural. What do you think? Would Roger give it a shot?
Joe, Manchester, NH
RM: Pretty late in the game for any track to throw together a race, and with no chance to get a title sponsor and ease some of the expense I seriously doubt it. I will forward your request to R.P. and I think he’s very familiar with how racy Loudon was for Indy cars (the 1993 race between Tracy, Mansell and Emmo was epic), so maybe under the right circumstances IndyCar could return some day.
Q: With a lot of the traditional IndyCar venues cancelling out due to the virus and/or not wanting to run without fans, could there be some non-traditional sites IndyCar could race at? The SCCA ran an annual event at the Studebaker Proving Grounds back in the 1950s, Could IndyCar look at running at Chevy/Ford/Honda/Chryslers various test tracks? As long as safety considerations are up to par, there’d be no question of having fans or not.
How about one of the private ‘club’ tracks around the country? Heard any talk along those lines to get the season’s race count back up? Again, with adequate track safety, you wouldn’t need to worry about having fans in or not if IndyCar simply wanted to build up the schedule. As always, great work keeping us all updated and stay safe. I’m sure you’ll still find plenty of news bits for us all to argue about.
RM: Considering R.P. may not get any sanction fees for 2020 because of co-promoting all the doubleheaders, it’s difficult to imagine seeking out test tracks that offer no chance of payment. Haven’t heard anything about new tracks for 2021, but I think everyone is preoccupied with trying to get to 14 races in 2020.
Q: Here’s a headline from Fox Sports. Sad but true: “Space Force sponsors NASCAR driver Ed Carpenter’s car for Indianapolis 500.”
RM: Yeah I asked Ed about that, and he took it in stride. “It was nice to get national exposure for my new sponsor, that’s what really mattered,” he said.
Q: I’d like to make a $100 contribution towards the purse for this year’s 500. It’s wonderful that RP is continuing with the race, and the teams too, but the reduced purse will impact everyone. Could you let me know where I can send my check? Keep on keepin’ on, brother.
Don Finch, Chandler, AZ
RM: I sent your note to The Captain and he said to tell you thanks but please apply that $100 to charity.
Q: I have really enjoyed the one-day qualifying/race formats, they remind of the good old days at Milwaukee, and obviously I’m an old guy. I always thought it added excitement and made the drivers use a little more caution when qualifying. Do you think this is something that might stick around next year? I also love the doubleheaders.
RM: I think IndyCar and the oval tracks have realized one-day shows are the way to go because nobody makes a penny on a separate day for practice/qualifying, and I also think doubleheaders are gaining some steam for 2021.
Q: Just a comment on Jimmie Johnson getting a tryout with Ganassi and the possibility of him doing a couple road races next year. Yes, he is one of the best in NASCAR and he got up to speed quickly, but I imagine any NASCAR driver could climb into an IndyCar and get up to speed in short order. Kurt Busch did extremely well back in ’14 at the 500. Jimmie is 44 and there’s a lot of young guns already paying dues and trying to get a tryout themselves.
I know Jimmie could bring sponsor money and maybe get some NASCAR fans to watch the race he’s in, but probably none after that. I think it’s great to let these guys in the other disciplines try it and see what they can do but they don’t need a permanent ride or a couple of road races when there’s too many young open-wheel slingshots in the wings waiting to get on the stage.
RM: We’re not sure that J.J.’s times were (I’ve heard conflicting reports) and you know the only way he’s going to be interested is if he can be competitive. It would be great for IndyCar if he drove in a few races, but I think road racing would be much tougher for him than an oval, which I don’t think he’ll ever run.