Q: I am writing following the announcement of the engine rules for 2023 and beyond and the new long-term commitment with Honda and Chevrolet. It was a key announcement for IndyCar, and as a fan, I can’t congratulate enough Roger Penske and his team for their fantastic work over the last months. But what I would like to comment is that, as per the press release note, the new 2.4L turbocharged engines will have to have a V6 architecture. Is the engine configuration really a condition? Maybe there are advantages that I am missing, but I think that leaving it up to the OEMs to define the engine configuration they like would not only allow for some creativity and diversity between the brands, but it would also serve as an argument to lure other OEMs to join the series.
An OEM could have more readiness and expertise to build an engine in its preferred configuration, and it could also be used to promote its road-going products in an easier and more direct way, as they could share common characteristics. For instance, we can all associate certain engine configurations with some brands, like Porsche with flat-6 engines, or BMW with inline-4s, and so on… Also, maybe this would require some adaptations chassis-wise, but I believe that as long as some engine-chassis interfaces are defined and frozen (like the engine fixing points or the positioning of the electric power unit), this engine freedom could be accommodated.
Jorge Neiva, Portugal
RM: Thankfully, we have Marshall Pruett’s take on this: “Yes, the 2.4-liter V6 layout is mandatory, and agreed upon by Chevy and Honda as the size and cylinder count they want. So it’s not a case of IndyCar forcing them to do anything they aren’t in agreement with going forward. From what I’m told, other manufacturers that are looking into the series have had favorable responses as well.”
Q: When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Wishing or complaining about wanting the past back is not going to make it happen. Money, money, money makes the world go ’round.
IndyCar and NASCAR are on the decline; therefore I think it is inevitable that they will and should pair up. Future schedules will be shared schedules with both series running the same track each weekend. I think it is likely that other racing series will join them, making for a racing weekend with three or four or more races. I see electric car races added to the weekend also. Let’s add some virtual racing: let fans go head to head with real drivers and bring the youngsters to the track – desperately needed! This will generate more fan interest, give fans more bang for their travel/ticket buck and will promote the rivalry between the two. It saves costs for each series. It enables sponsors to have more to promote. NBC could have racing weekends like football has their weekends. Have each of the series champions — IndyCar, NASCAR, sports cars, electric, virtual — compete in an end-of-the-year IROC-type of event — a racing Super Bowl! It just makes sense. Do you see some kind of extended partnership down the road?
Dennis Watson, Loda, IL
RM: I see IndyCar and NASCAR doubling up a couple times a year (IMS road course and an oval to be named later) and IMSA adding on to Long Beach, but there are only a few places that would want to try and make it work.
Q: I just read, finally, Brock Yates’ book Cannonball, and enjoyed it very much. And I noticed a mention in there of some guy from Indianapolis named Robin Miller, who participated in one of the earlier incarnations of the event. Have you ever written on this topic, or do you have any thoughts about the Cannonball that you’d care to share with your loyal readers? I’m willing to bet plenty of us would love to hear about your experience.
Jim Bray, Calgary
RM: No, I got to say my piece in the Cannonball book and I didn’t leave anything out, but it was one of the great adventures of my life. Driving from Manhattan to the Pacific Ocean as fast as our Vega would take us with an ice scraper being used as our cruise control and four cans of gasoline strapped together in the hatchback. It was dumb, lethal, insane, stupid, exhilarating, tiring and I’d do it again. Fortunately, I got to run one of the two “real” races, and not the rally it turned into because of all the heat Brock Yates received. He was going to bring back all the guys from the first two runs for a Cannonball Memorial in 2004 or 2005, and I just about had Paul Newman and Eddie Wirth convinced to do it when Brock’s lawyer told him ‘no chance in hell’. But talk about a spirit of adventure that likely doesn’t exist anymore. I’ll always be indebted to Brock for letting me be part of all the fun.
Q: In the spirit of the 24 Hours of Daytona, with four classes of cars on the track at once, let’s put NASCAR and IndyCar on the same road course at the same time! Talk about excitement and the chance to increase attendance and TV viewers! Imagine Kyle Busch trying to keep Scott Dixon from lapping him. Or Joey Logano and Will Power both Penske drivers side-by-side through a turn. We can dream, can’t we?
RM: And then make the drivers trade cars at the halfway point.
Q: Hey Robin with the aeroscreen on UK18, would Penske entertain a round at Pikes Peak Hill Climb? It was a fixture back in the day, and now that road is all paved. It could be another way to keep showing our series is the most diverse on the planet. Road, street, oval, hill climb. Plus it could be part of a triple crown for the series. Long Beach GP, King of the Mountain, Indy 500. I would love to see our drivers attack the mountain in the open-wheel class. Granted, they probably need a more aggressive aero kit and possibly electronic power steering pump to help with steering, along with Firestone providing a special tire for the mountain. It would be epic for Will Power or Alexander Rossi to take the open-wheel record and possibly overall in a modern IndyCar. Granted I know it’s bit sketchy, but our drivers live for the danger at speed. Thoughts?
Kevin, Long Beach, CA
RM: I think it would be more appealing if it was still dirt, but either way there is no way today’s car owners are going to give it the green light.