Robin Miller's Mailbag for November 4, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for November 4, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for November 4, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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Q: Can you please give us as a breakdown of what the driver lineups are looking like next year team by team, and how many cars we can expect on the grid? Seems there have been a few signings lately and things are definitely looking up for the series!

Jason Hay, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

RM: Marshall’s latest Silly Season story pretty much lays it out but here’s a quick look: Andretti (5): Marco, RHR, Rossi, Herta, Hinch; Ganassi (4): Dixon, Ericsson, Palou, Johnson; Penske (4): Power, Newgarden, Pagenaud, McLaughlin; RLL (2): Rahal, Sato. AMSP (2): O’Ward, Rosenqvist; Foyt (2): Bourdais and Fittipaldi, Kimball or Kellett; Meyer Shank (2): Harvey and TBA for second car in selected races; ECR (2): Veekay, Carpenter, Daly; Carlin (1): Chilton. Dreyer & Reinbold and Juncos Racing: ???.

Q: A few weeks ago I thought we might go down to 20-21 full time cars for next year. Am I wrong to think I was way off and we might have more than this year at 25 full-timers, and with a couple of part-timers, even have 27 at some events? Thank God we have Roger on our side, and you too, Robin, with the Mailbag.

Ron, Toronto

RM: See the answer right above yours, and I imagine if Dennis Reinbold and Ricardo Juncos can find sponsorship there could be 25-26 at some races.

Q: I just read that DragonSpeed is ending its IndyCar program and sold its chassis to Meyer Shank. When a car is sold like that, obviously the engine goes back to Chevy. But I am curious about the wiring harness, steering wheel, engine management system, etc. Are those items specific to the engine manufacturer, or generic/spec to the chassis? I enjoy your column.

Kevin Kovach, Allen Park, MI

RM: From Mike Hull, managing director of Ganassi Racing: If a team would sell as in this case a Chevy-specific chassis to a Honda team, the Chevy-specific items that are team purchased and not part of the lease remain the team’s property by agreement. You’re meant to return them if you don’t continue. Yes, the engine itself is returned, but then the chassis’ OEM-specific items which are owned by the team as can be sold to another like team with OEM permission. You lease the engine itself, which includes the engine engineers and technicians trackside. The OEM sets the mileage limits for the purchased parts that that are specific to the chassis. Those items would be the engine installation kit specific items that include the engine harness, sensors, wastegates, exhaust and tailpipes, some aero engine ducting, fuel pump, and cooling-specific items.  These items have a mileage limit, so are exchanged during the race season once they find full term.”   

Who knew that buying an IndyCar was so complicated? Abbott/Motorsport Images

Q: Will the IndyCar Series ever race on the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Road Course at Daytona International Speedway?

Chris Fiegler, Latham, NY

RM: Josef Newgarden drove on the Roval and there was talk of IndyCar going there, but nobody has mentioned it lately.

Q: This year’s doubleheader at Road America seemed to be a hit with everyone involved, even those of us just watching from home. Any reason we aren’t getting another doubleheader next year?

Mike, South Dakota

RM: The doubleheaders at Iowa, Mid-Ohio and Road America were cool but they were also out of necessity, and I think IndyCar, its teams and the promoters are happy to have just one big event on a weekend. Although depending on what happens with COVID in 2021, it’s possible that doubleheaders could return.

Q: Roger should take a hard look at the schedule to grow the sport in the stands and on TV. After watching the race at St Petersburg, it has become more evident that the season finale should be in St Pete. Watching season ending races at Sonoma and Laguna Seca have been follow the leader events with passing done during pit stops!
I would also start the season at Long Beach. Start and finish the season with a bang!

John Sedlak, Venice, Florida

RM: I don’t disagree IndyCar needs a better race and atmosphere for the finale (I like Gateway), but Laguna was surprisingly good in 2019 and watching young Herta hold off Will Power was entertaining. But I think St. Pete likes being the season opener and Long Beach isn’t about to change its date.

Q: Now that the season is over, does anyone have an estimate of the amount of the Captain’s additional investment in IndyCar and IMS? We all know he bought the track, series and assorted assets. Nobody is saying, but the amount has to be in the hundreds of millions. Then he invested another $15 million in IMS improvements (even though you didn’t get the apron issue worked out yet). But there must be another huge amount he has spent to keep races on the schedule, personnel employed, IMS open, purse paid, and other costs. Any idea? My estimate is plus or minus another $10 to $15 million in direct out of pocket expenses, but that’s a total guess. On top of that is the lost revenue from sanction fees, and ticket sales. All in all, a huge number.

I could be way off. But we all know he has spent a lot more than he expected, and the amounts are in the millions. Yet have you ever heard him complain for even the briefest second? Penske has picked up the sport of IndyCar racing and carried it on his back this whole year. Do all racers, owners and fans really appreciate the magnitude of what he’s done? I for one just want to say, “Hey Roger, we see and appreciate what you’ve done. Thank you.”

Gerald Oliver, Midlothian, Texas

RM: There are a few people who know how much R.P. shelled out in 2020 to keep IndyCar and the Indy 500 running, but when you count the price of IMS, the fact he made zero revenue on ticket sales until the last two races, co-promoted and rented tracks and likely gave major discounts in sanction fees for doubleheaders, it could be as much as $400 million. And I do think that IndyCar fans are aware of his commitment and appreciate all he’s done, and are thankful he bought everything.

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