Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 7, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 7, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 7, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: OK Robin, the 2021 IndyCar schedule is a complete joke. I don’t understand why there continues to be large gaps in the schedule year after year. A month between the first and second race of the season, and again in July. I mean, come on, only two races in July, which is typically IndyCar’s busiest month… I get that COTA, Iowa, and Richmond probably have a lot to do with this, but it’s a huge concern.

Obviously the pandemic has a lot to do with it, I’m sure, and there’s no way I see Long Beach, Portland or Laguna being run even next year. The fact IndyCar has almost no ovals anymore is really a tough pill to swallow, and I get ovals are a tough sell these days, but the series needs to do something to get them going again. The last thing this series needs is to be a road/street course series only aside from the 500.

Paul, Lake In The Hills, IL

RM: The 2020 Summer Olympics go from July 23-Aug. 8, 2021 so that’s why that gap, because it’s one of NBC’s big investments and ratings draws. Other than the space between St. Pete and Barber, it’s got a nice flow, and I like the way it’s laid out and so should the mechanics. The fact IndyCar only has three ovals is a direct result of apathy, and Roger Penske can rent Iowa if available, but what else do you expect him to do?

Q: With NASCAR ditching a round at Chicagoland, MIS, and Kentucky, why aren’t we jumping on this? I like what IndyCar brings, but that ratio of road, street, and oval needs to be balanced a bit better. Why run two races on the IMS road course next year? It’s not worth sacrificing additional dates. Just feels like the wrong direction with after the 2020 schedule was something to build off. I know it’s COVID, but come on.

CJ Shoemaker, Kalamazoo, MI

RM: NASCAR cut Chicago and Kentucky from the 2021 schedule so I imagine they might put in a call to The Captain, but the first IMS road race is on NBC and the second is the Brickyard doubleheader with NASCAR. It’s not a case of sacrificing dates, it’s simply trying to get to 17 races with tracks that actually want IndyCar. And if the IMS road races next year are anything like last weekend’s, sign me up for three of ‘em.

Q: With Richmond and Iowa gone, what is the likelihood of Loudon or Pocono returning to the series? I’ve attended races at both venues, and what a show they put on. After all, both tracks were originally built for Indy cars. Also, I remembered hearing Watkins Glenn wasn’t dead and buried, just looking for a better date other than Labor Day weekend – any truth to a possible return? And I attended the Champ Car race in Montreal in 2002; what a race that was, and the stands were jammed packed! Any chance IndyCar can go north of the border? I think it be great for Canada and the series.

Rick Scotia, NY

RM: Loudon staged one of the greatest oval races ever in 1993 with Mansell, Tracy and Emmo and the crowd was 50,000. By 1998 the attendance had plummeted to 5,000, and nobody came back in 2011, either. So I’d say no chance. Pocono didn’t promote IndyCar, and it showed. The Glen isn’t interested unless it could be a twin bill with IMSA. But I do know IndyCar talked with Montreal about returning, just not sure where that stands today.

Time for a Kentucky revival? Walt Kuhn/Motorsport Images

Q: Judging from some of the reaction to the schedule announcement, it would seem some fans are impossible to please. If you don’t mind, I have two questions. Firstly, what are your overall thoughts about the schedule? Secondly, a couple of years ago you were pushing for Gateway to be the finale. Have you changed your mind?

Jordan, Warwickshire, UK

RM: I think IndyCar did the best it could with what it had to work with, especially given that COTA, Iowa and Richmond were yanked out from under them. I would go to Gateway for the finale in a heartbeat. It would have a good atmosphere and likely be a sellout, and owners can take their sponsors to downtown St. Louis to eat and drink.

Q: With only four oval races on three tracks, 2021 will be the worst IndyCar season in memory (I’m 66 years old). What happened to Iowa and Richmond? Is there any chance of getting Michigan or Fontana back in the near future?

Jim, Dunnville, Ontario, Canada

RM: How can you say that before a race is run? Did you watch last weekend’s doubleheader at IMS? There was more legit passing on the road course than any oval I can recall in recent memory. If nobody wants to host IndyCar on ovals, what is Roger Penske supposed to do? I don’t know which tracks might have a chance because I don’t know if any of them are interested.

Q: With NASCAR trading four ovals for road courses on their 2021 calendar and IndyCar dropping two, is it safe to say that the oval attendance/interest issue is more widespread than just IndyCar? NASCAR is no longer holding onto their 1.5-mile track love that they found in the early 2000s and they are making radical changes. I’m guessing Kentucky and Chicagoland will be left to decay like Nazareth. I know it’s bad to say, but the IRL seems pretty good right now… I would love to see an all-oval schedule. Politics, B.S., and destruction of American open-wheel racing aside, would you like an all-oval IRL-like schedule? Or would you prefer what we have next year?

Matt from Phoenixville, PA

RM: First off, IndyCar got dropped from Iowa and Richmond, it wasn’t their decision. An all-oval series? Do you recall what the grandstands looked like after the IRL ticket was removed from the season ticket package at Chicago, Kentucky, Kansas and the pathetic turnouts at Phoenix, Fontana and Loudon? I like the diversity of IndyCar because nobody else in the motorsports world can match it, and if a couple more ovals could perform like Gateway and join the schedule, then people would have to find something else to bitch about. But oval-track racing has become a very tough sell, even for NASCAR.