Q: Being a Hungarian fan, I am happy to read all your stories every week. I started watching CART in 1997 (being 12), stopped around 2005, and rediscovered it in 2017 thanks to Alonso. Well, I stopped watching F1 last year after watching it for 25 years, because in F1 there are hardly any good races while in IndyCar there are no bad races. Most complainers should discover that the U.S. has the best road and street courses in the world (Road America, Mid-Ohio, Portland, Barber, VIR, Long Beach, St. Pete). They are classy, old-fashioned tracks with fantastic sections, gravel traps, nice hairpins and nothing like boring Tilke-dromes. I love them in simulators.
I have a question about new events. As there were rumors about returning to Australia, what about Adelaide having a joint event with the Clipsal? Big crowds, nice downtown, good circuit with enough overtaking places.
I would add one question regarding The Split (even after reading Ed Hinton’s series). Did TG ever consider supporting U.S. talents in CART or fielding a team (beating the CART barons as well)? He could have given Jeff Gordon a try at least in open-wheel. And thank RP for keeping IndyCar alive!
Csaba Besztercei, Hungary
RM: IndyCar had meetings in Australia but were told the asking price was too high, so maybe R.P. will have a go again some day, although foreign races aren’t high on his list. If it made everyone money, I’m sure he’d be happy to negotiate, but no idea which cities might be in play. Don’t think TG had any interest in fielding a team until he started the IRL, but I always kidded A.J. that he could have hired Tony Stewart instead of Marco Greco.
Q: A.J. Foyt had a long-time sponsorship from the Goodyear Tire Company during his driving days. Could you please tell us how it got started? What’s his relationship with the company like now, and did he ever consider switching tire companies during his racing career?
RM: Here’s the story from The Man: “I ran Goodyear tires at Trenton and blew everybody’s ass off in 1964, and that got it started. I wanted to run the Goodyear tires I’d tested at Indy, but the engineers said they were no good so I wore a Goodyear suit and used Firestone tires to win my second Indy 500. After that I was all Goodyear.”
Q: Regarding your “Who’s the greatest? It’s complicated…” article from October 19, A.J. also won the NASCAR Firecracker 400 in 1964. And I think some of your readers got confused because your column was about the greatest seasons, not trying to pick the greatest driver.
RM: Thanks Joe, I totally spaced looking at A.J.’s NASCAR record (seven wins total) and I appreciate you pointing out Daytona in ’64. As for my column, it was a good way to spotlight Kyle Larson’s amazing season while also looking back at the great runs from the legends through the years. Unfortunately some of the “experts” who comment on RACER.com are so anxious to give their opinions they don’t actually take the time to grasp the premise of the story. It didn’t say Larson was one of the greats (although I think he will be), it simply showed how versatile he’s been this year on the dirt in midgets, sprints and dirt cars in what has been a great season.
Q: A two-part question, because Road Atlanta is on my mind with last weekend’s Petit Le Mans and I would dearly love to see an IndyCar race there as it is only two hours from my home. I know that it has come up many times before that Road Atlanta is not safe for IndyCars. But I am curious, is that what the drivers like RHR and Pagenaud who have driven there say? What would be the speed differentials between DPi and IndyCar? The fastest part of the track is the back straight and the fastest prototypes may get up to about 190 there, and there is plenty of run-off in the Turn-10 area. The downhill onto the front straight would be a challenge, but surely something could be done there. Thanks for all you do! I look forward to reading the Mailbag first thing Wednesday mornings.
Paul Lewis, Macon, GA
RM: Tony Cotman has designed tracks all over the world in addition to being on the FIA safety committee, and here’s his take: “The speed would be similar, just a little quicker, but there is not plenty of run-off area. In my opinion, there’s not adequate run-off area period.”
Q: I think for the long-term survival of the Big 3 (IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA) they will need to embrace more inter-species weekends. A race on the Roval in Charlotte with IndyCar and IMSA on Saturday and NASCAR on the Sunday would be awesome. Splitting the tracks’ costs three ways instead of three separate events makes lots of sense/cents. For fans to have that kind of crossover on the same weekend also might bring more folks in to watch. Same with The Glen and Sonoma. As a race camper, I’d much rather go to see the Big 3 over a weekend as opposed to watching endless hours of practice and a bunch of Mazda Miatas as support races even if it means an extra hundred bucks. Do you agree?
Gary, Anza, CA
RM: I do think doubleheaders between the three are good ideas whenever possible, because it’s about entertaining people — especially if IndyCar and NASCAR can figure out an oval to run together. I think John Doonan understands the value and IMSA will do more with IndyCar in the future.