Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 30, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 30, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 30, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: Current and past, name the top 10 sponsors and unique driver incentive clauses.

Doug Sharp

RM: Marlboro and Target were the two of the longest and strongest sponsors ($10 million per car in CART’s heyday) while Texaco and Kmart matched them for big money and Player’s, Miller Beer, Budweiser, Tecate and Valvoline were also near the top of the heap. Have no clue about driver contracts and incentives, other than wins, poles and finish in the standings were likely tacked on to a salary.

Q: I have been delighting myself with listening to Bobby Unser on old YouTube videos. What a raconteur! The stories. I am not sure of anyone from open-wheel racing that is amusing as he is. Maybe Kimi Raikkonen after he retires. Can you give a recommendation of others I might want to listen to on YouTube?

Steve Selasky, Rockford, MI

RM: Nobody is as funny as Uncle Bobby because nobody is as brave or candid – except A.J., but he doesn’t hold too many B.S. sessions. Graham Hill and Eddie Sachs were quite entertaining, as was Tom Sneva, but not sure any of them would be on YouTube.

Q: Going back to the Uncle Bobby roast, it was mentioned he was banned from Hertz/Avis rentals. Assuming this was true, can you expand on how/what Bobby did to be banned from Hertz/Avis?

Bob Young, Cincinnati

RM: Actually Al and Bobby were both banned from renting cars because of all the destruction they brought forth for a few years. Crashing cars, destroying transmissions, abandoning vehicles and reporting them stolen. Thanks for reading.

He’s the gift that keeps giving. Image by IMS

Q: The actual color of the old Foyt car is Poppy Red. This was used on the 1964 and 1965 Mustang, and yes, since the sponsors pay the bill, I don`t think we will ever see the old paint jobs again. Stay well, and thanks for all you do.

Rich Shiroky, Little River, SC

RM: Thanks Rich. Wonder where I came up with Coyote Orange?

Q: Another great Mailbag, but I was disappointed to read, if I understood it correctly, that Super Tex won’t sign any Le Mans-related items. I fully understand that it’s up to him, and I respect that. Having no fans at Indy this year probably saved me some great embarrassment, then. I have a 1:18 diecast of A.J.’s 1967 Le Mans winner that has been signed by Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, and Phil Remington. It needs one more to be the perfect centerpiece of my Foyt collection. Oh, well… the last thing I ever want is to get on A.J.’s bad side. My mom didn’t raise a total fool.

Jim Mulcare, Westbury, NY

RM: I think if you ambushed him at Indy, coming out of breakfast at Charlie Brown’s or dinner at the Iron Skillet when he’s full and vulnerable, he might soften up and sign it.

Q: In the ‘It could be worse’ department, did you see that Coca-Cola has cancelled its multi-year primary sponsorship of NHRA, effective immediately? ($20 million owed.) In addition, a couple of weeks ago the winning event payout for the Pro classes (Top Fuel and Funny Car) was reduced to $15K for the remaining 2020 events, (Pro Stock was reduced to $6K per event win). Not that the winning purse had been much to begin with. The Pro Series event win payouts had been at $50K per event for the last 10 years. (Bill Holland earned $51,575 for winning the Indy 500 – 71 years ago!), but had been reduced to $35K per event win in 2020 due to the COVID impact. One professional racer stated he’s essentially racing for “a six-pack and a bag of pretzels.” Hard to believe this national series pays less than many local short tracks pay for a weekend win.

My point – thanks again to The Captain for purchasing IMS and the IndyCar series, and to his dedication and investment to keep the IndyCar series afloat and looking forward to a stronger future in 2021. As many challenges as IndyCar faces, we are much better off than we could be, and thanks to Roger Penske, Dallara, and all our owners, sponsors and drivers for keeping the series going.

Brad from Powder Springs

RM: No argument about the godsend Penske has been, but IndyCar purses are $30,000 to win everywhere but Indianapolis so the NHRA has some company.

Q: Recently I saw a video of you interviewing A.J. Foyt (my favorite driver of all time) and I was hoping you would ask him who he thought was the toughest foreign driver he raced against at Indy. Specifically, I was wondering what his impression of Jim Clark, who I revere as well as the one of the best of all time.

Carl Scott

RM: A.J. spoke highly of Clark from day one in 1963 at Indy, and here’s what he said in a story I wrote for in 2018. “I wasn’t real fond of the Brits in general but I liked Clark. He drove hard but clean, and I had a lot of respect for him because he raced at Milwaukee and Trenton, too. When I knocked him off the pole in ’65 and said over the PA that I brought the record back to the USA I got a big ovation, but Clark came down and shook my hand, and I thought that was pretty damn nice.”

Q: Big changes at the top of several racing series with passionate people making big decisions have certainly got me excited, and hopefully others as well, with Formula 1 being the latest change. How confident are you that Stefano Domenicali will change F1 for the better?

Howard W., Bristol, WI

RM: I don’t know anything about him other than his Ferrari connection, and I’m a lot more concerned about IndyCar’s health than F1. Sorry.

Q: I know it is a little off the wall, but why wouldn’t Haas give some thought to an American hotshot like Kyle Larson? I know he lacks a Super License and is not familiar with the European tracks, but Grosjean and Magnussen haven’t exactly set the world on fire. There is a lot more to F1 than just the driver, but once they could get him licensed, wouldn’t a big shake-up like that give an American a chance to shake up the series and maybe grab a podium? Couldn’t you see Larson throwing around an F1 car and maybe doing a slide job on some of those champagne sippers? With a little success I could even imagine a Bud Light tent at Monaco!

Paul Imirie, Mint Hill, NC

RM: No interest on either side is my response, and I think we’d all much rather see Kyle at Indianapolis. As talented as he is, it would take years to try and adapt to the cars, brakes, tires and tracks. And Haas ain’t exactly top of the line, so that might make it even tougher.