Q: I know IndyCar fans, and perhaps you, might not like the idea of IndyCar adding more temporary street/road courses, but let’s face it, with the demise of Fontana and IndyCar not being able to get a race in the Northeast like Watkins Glen, Pocono and New Hampshire, maybe it needs to resurrect temporary races like the Meadowlands Grand Prix, Boston Grand Prix or see if it can they can find an abandoned airfield and have an IndyCar race. Example: Floyd Bennett Airfield in New York.
Alistair Fannell, Springfield, MO
RM: OK Alistair, you gotta stop drinking before you write. The Meadowlands? I was there, no thanks. A dud by a swamp. The Boston GP? All talk and no substance. An airport? Sure, if it’s Burke Lakefront. The best place for IndyCar would be The Glen as a doubleheader with IMSA. Period. Not Loudon, not Pocono, not Trenton, not Nazareth and not Langhorne. Just a great road course in upper New York with proper promoting and a good date.
Q: Watching the 500 this year, there were quite a few shots of the pit mules that the teams were using. Are these a standard item? Every team’s vehicle looked identical. What about technical stats: are they diesel, petrol, electric? Do they belong to the speedway, or are they each team’s own purchase?
RM: “Pit carts are owned by the respective IndyCar teams. They are used to tote equipment, tires, crew members, pitlane equipment, and much more. They travel down the road in the center aisles of the teams’ transporters. Some are battery-powered, while others are gasoline powered. Years ago teams had to get in line for the SRS Group custom-built ones. Many of those are still in operation with two-stroke engines. The others are modified industrial electric-powered industrial carts. Between races, they spend as much time on tall stands for preventative maintenance as the race cars!” Mike Hull, managing director of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Q: This year’s postponements, delays, reschedules, and yellow/red flag arguments remind me of the 1986 race at Road America, claimed to be “the longest CART race in history!” The 50-lap race started on September 21 and ended two weeks and 2+ hours later. Red-flagged for torrential rain and standing water, the race was resumed on October 4th – when of course it rained like crazy again. I was pretty footloose at the time and drove up from Dayton on my own for the September date. Then I was too stubborn to see the start of the race but not the finish (I don’t think the second half was on TV), so I drove up and back again two weeks later to see my favorite, Emerson Fittipaldi, win. That’s about 1,800 miles for me, and 200 for the racers. Were you there? Could it happen again?
Phil Wagar, Bellbrook, OH
RM: I was there in 1986, and I recall a river running across the track, but I think that might have been in the ’90s and Wally Dallenbach found some sand bags that allowed the race to restart. Of course it could happen again. Weepers didn’t let CART turn a lap at Rockingham until the day of the race, but it turned out to be a helluva show. Some of the first radial tires (I think 1997) at MIS blew up so that race had to be postponed a week. Iowa in 2019 didn’t end until 2 a.m. because of the rain, so unless it’s a drizzle at a road course, there are no guarantees you can race on said day.
Q: An older racer friend and I are trading a few books to read during C19. We both like IndyCar, sports cars, 1970s/’80s F1. You’ve periodically listed good racing books. Could you share your current top 10 list for these subjects? We’re more interested in the people than race reports.
RM: Vukovich, Hurtubise and Troy Ruttman by Bob Gates, Rick Mears and Mario Andretti by Gordon Kirby, Foyt/Andretti/Petty, Parnelli Jones and Wicked Fast (Bentley Warren) by Bones Bourcier, Eddie Sachs by Denny Miller, Art Pollard and Billy Foster by Bob Kehoe, Lone Wolf (Doug Wolfgang) by Dave Argabright, Will Power by David Malsher and GO (the Bettenhausen family) by Carl Hungness. You can find a lot of these on Coastal181.com, and Art Garner is working on a bio of A.J. and Evi Gurney is finishing up her tome on Daniel Sexton Gurney.
Q: I was asked who I would most like to have dinner with, and my response was Bobby Allison or Robin Miller. My mother dated Jud Larson and I figured dinner with you might give great insight to who Jud Larson was about. My mother said he could you scare you death riding in a car with him.
RM: You need to get out more Russ, but I appreciate your tout. I’d have loved to have known Larson — saw him at the Hoosier Hundred a few times and got his autograph, but he sounded like one of those great ’50s and ’60s characters.
Q: Just got done reading the Mailbag. I don’t know how you do it. Everyone seems to be an expert, everyone has an opinion on how this or that should be done. I just wanted to say thank you for covering IndyCar with the passion, heart and soul that you do. Does the current situation with COVID and the fan restrictions and changing schedule stink? Sure does. Would I have preferred to be at the 500 in person and see it finish under green? Yes. Do I hope to attend the Harvest GP? Yes. But if I can’t, I won’t be mad and complain. I will be happy to be able to watch it on TV and just attend an extra race next year, maybe buy a few things on the series website to show support.
COVID or not, Tony George or Roger Penske, CART/ USAC/IRL whatever, it doesn’t matter, there will always be things to complain about. I for one am just happy to have racing to watch, stories to read, sponsors to support, a favorite team to cheer for and a series to enjoy! Keep up the great work and hope to see you at a race in 2021.
Kyle, Plymouth, WI
RM: Thanks Kyle. I’m always amazed at the volume of mail I get 52 weeks a year, and it’s cool to know IndyCar has so many die-hards. Just think of The Mailbag as a psychiatrist’s couch. But I’m trying to end The Mailbag every week on a positive note, and you are the winner.