Q: Just finished the September 16 Mailbag. I see the discussion about the changes to Auto Club Speedway and the Hanford device. So I looked up the YouTube video of Gil de Ferran’s record run of 241 mph at Fontana in 2000, and I see the Handford device on the car. Any speculation from you or Marshall on how fast that lap would have been without the device?
Kevin, Arlington Hts., IL
RM: I asked a couple of engineers from back in that era and they reckoned the high 240s, maybe close to a 250 mph lap. I remember interviewing Mo Gugelmin for RPM2Night after he ran a practice lap at 241 mph that day and he said: “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done. It’s insane.”
Q: I’ve always liked to keep track of who the starter has been going way back, but I never have heard a word on who has been in the starter stand for IndyCar this year?
Charlie Yu, Fort Wayne
Q: IndyCar employs three starters who usually rotate duties. They are Bryan Howard (longtime IndyCar and Indy 500 starter), Tom Hansing (longtime USAC starter and IndyCar starter) and Aaron Likens (new for 2020, and also current Road to Indy starter). All three guys were on flag stand at times during practice and qualifying in August, and all three worked the Indy 500. (Thanks to IndyCar’s Arni Sribhen for that information).
Q: I loved your recent article “Is this the missing piece to Foyt’s puzzle?” As a longtime A.J. fan, I was intrigued by a comment you made in the article about the way you tend to end your discussions with him talking about, among other things, the coolest Coyotes. Personally, I love the ’73-’77 vintage car, but have always been most drawn to his ’67 Indy winner. Would you mind sharing his and your thoughts on the “coolest Coyote”?
Jeff Daniels, Seattle
RM: From Super Tex: “They were all good because I had Bob Riley, Eddie Kuzma, Quinn Epperly and Lujie Lesovsky working on them and they were the best. But I’d have to say that 1977 would be my favorite, because we built it in Houston, used my engine and I drove it.”
Q: I noticed recently – especially in last week’s Mailbag that you’re getting a little flustered with some people. Not a criticism by any stretch, I don’t blame you. Some people are pretty far out there at times. IndyCar fans opinions sometimes remind me of a line from Rambo II. Stay with me here. In the scene, Rambo is getting tortured by the Russian with an electrical device, but he won’t talk. The Russian says, ‘Courage is a poor substitute for intelligence.’ That’s some IndyCar fans. Just use passion instead of courage, and you have it.
Onto my question. Speedway gas pumps feature a screen with ‘Speedway TV’ that has various rapid-fire clips of news, tips, sports, too. I had a thought pop into my head the other day when I was filling my car. What would it take to have IndyCar clips on the pump? Even if it’s just the last race winner and a reminder of the next event? I’m guessing that those clips are paid content, but Speedway is a sponsor so maybe this facilitates my idea. While I doubt it moves the needle a ton, I also doubt that it would cost much. Anything that raises awareness has to help.
Eric Z, Lancaster, NY
RM: I get grouchy when people try to pound the same point, over and over, even after I’ve supplied my answer two or three times before, but they mean well so I try not to be too sarcastic. That’s a great idea about Speedway, and I sent it to the IndyCar marketing department.
Q: I have been following IndyCar for over 50 years and been to 12 different tracks. In today’s time it is great to watch a sport where a prayer is given, the national anthem is sung and everyone stands and respects the flag. Tribute is made to our soldiers, and no one is making a political statement. Just a great time to enjoy a race.
Tom Gish, Louisville, KY
RM: Agreed, Tom. Sporting events are supposed to be escapism, and I think IndyCar grasps that concept.
Q: As we all know, motorsports events over the last several months have been completely upended in unprecedented fashion. While it is really strange to see no spectators in the stands until quite recently, I commend all of the major sanctioning bodies in doing the best that they could in order to put together events and meaningful championships and be mindful of best practices for protecting the participants. This is only the result of extraordinary efforts put in by the leadership and officials of IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR, the WEC, MotoGP and the NHRA. It also speaks to the flexibility of the track officials involved in all of these events. It never is perfect, but I think the small number of infections of all the personnel involved reflects the decisions and protocols that have been put in place. So, to all: Thank You!!
Don Hopings, Cathedral City, CA
RM: Thanks Don, you ended the Mailbag on a high note.