Q: I just read your article regarding Seabass joining A.J.’s team and look forward hopefully for some more on track competition. On the team’s website, under autographs, it states, “Please do not send posters, helmets, or Le Mans-related materials as these will not be autographed due to his personal reasons.” Just curious if you know if there is something about Le Mans that he’s unhappy about? Also curious to know if Anne Fornoro related to Nick who used to be the starter/flagman from the CART days?
Tom Corso, Ranch Mirage, CA
RM: A.J. gets inundated with autograph requests so he had to draw the line, and he hated French food so I imagine that could be the main reason. Anne is married to Drew Fornoro, one of Nick’s two racing sons, and she’s successfully kept A.J. out of lawsuits and jail for the past 30-plus years while deftly handling his PR.
Q: You speculated recently on a possible Team Foyt renaissance. What do you think of a Foyt return to his traditional red livery for car 14 (I believe the technical term for the shade was actually ‘Foyt red’ ) worn for successfully for decades under Gilmore sponsorship? And how about a return to that iconic red and white-checkered shirt wear? (Updated to Nomex, of course.) If Foyt wants to recapture past glory, he could do worse than a return to that ‘look’.
A Jenkins, Toronto, Canada
RM: I think it was called “Coyote orange,” and Jim Gilmore loved it, but today’s sponsors pretty much dictate the color scheme.
Q: I read with interest your article on Bourdais going full-time with Foyt in 2021 and I really hope they produce some good results. I do however feel that Bourdais has one hand tied behind his back with Dalton Kellett as a pay driver teammate, while the split shops is not a help. You write that “ There are plenty of reasons for all the struggles. The team is divided (one car in Houston and one in Indianapolis, although A.J. says that’s no big deal.)” There you have the nucleus of the problem. Here is hoping I’m wrong.
RM: Well Seb doesn’t need a lot of help on chassis feedback because he’s pretty savvy, but it’s A.J.’s team so who are we to tell him how to run it? And I think it’s easier to get people to work in Indy than Houston, so maybe that’s the compromise.
Q: Great news about A.J. Foyt running Seb full-time next season. So is A.J. funding this out of his own pocket or did a sponsor step up?
Martin Moriguchi, Henderson, NV
RM: Tex says they’re looking OK in terms of sponsorship, but I think he’s paying Seb’s salary out of his own pocket – which is deeper than most people can imagine.
Q: What are your realistic expectations for next year with Seabass going to Foyt?
John from Akron
RM: Qualify in the top 12 for road and street circuits with a few visits to the Fast 6. Maybe a podium or two.
Q: I often hear tech segments talking about the pressure required from the driver to effectively use the brakes being some massive amount of force that they have to train for. F1 really comes to mind – one of the announcers/past drivers said he can’t even use the brakes fully when he gets a chance to drive the cars because he simply can’t push the pedal hard enough. This seems just odd in this day and age. It’s a hydraulic brake setup – there is no mechanical linkage directly to the calipers, so why would the engineers set the brake pedal up to require so much force? I would think a driver would be able to be much more precise over a whole race distance if just a decent amount of force required. Can you shed some light on this please? Is it true that they take that much force to use properly, malarkey, or what and why?
RM: I’m going to defer to the king of brake bias, Mr. Marshall Pruett. “Yes, a lot of effort is required to stop the cars, but as you’ve probably seen, an entire field of IndyCars just spent two days and two races successfully braking at numerous corners at Mid-Ohio for a combined 150 laps, and they were all capable of walking away from those cars afterwards, so there’s a bit of a visual answer to your question here. Sure, IndyCar could implement all manner of assistive devices to make turning, stopping, and accelerating much easier, but then it wouldn’t be IndyCar.”
Q: If we get the knockout qualifying for a road racing doubleheader, I agree with you it is a great thing, but right now they’re doing two groups at Indy just like they did at Mid-Ohio. I would more enjoy a warm-up lap and two flying laps to set the grid for Race 1 and 2 than these two group deals like we have already had at Road America and Mid-Ohio. You can send the car out for a warm-up as soon as the car on a flyer crosses pit exit. Realistically the next car is ready to go around 20 seconds after the car out there finishes.
RM: It’s all part of the show and television package, and knock-out qualifying is good TV. I like two laps at ovals for doubleheaders, but doubt we have many of those in 2021 unless COVID is still on the loose.