Robin Miller's Mailbag for November 25, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for November 25, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for November 25, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

By

Q: Grew up in SoCal in the 1950s and ’60s. Never heard of a Brody Knob. We had bench seats and no power steering, so the knob came in very handy and was known as a Necker’s Knob. You can imagine it not being popular with some parents, so the version that flipped down out of the way and out of plain sight was my favorite. Bucket seats may be cool, but not romantic.

Steve in Vancouver, Washington

RM: More good knowledge, thanks Steve. Did you turn into the drive-in with your Necker’s Knob to get your girlfriend closer? I would guess yes.

Q: According to my dad, after the war, these became popular in many areas of the country for using when you drove with your girlfriend. The term Necker’s Knob was kind of disdained by many females, so it evolved onto a Broady Knob (driving with your broad), and then morphed into Brody Knob.

Michael Danks, Dallas

RM: Awesome. The final and definitive word on a great part of American tradition in the bobby sox days.

Q: I recently finished the book Black Noon by Art Garner based on your recommendation. Besides being a great read about the 1964 race and the Sachs/MacDonald accident, I actually got more enjoyment reading about the state of racing and the drivers of that era, which was plentiful and that I did not know as much about. It also prompted me to go down the rabbit hole online to seek out more historical material, and I stumbled on one of the best first-person accounts I’ve ever read on being a racing driver by Patrick Bedard: The Anatomy of a Crackup in the May 1985 issue of Esquire that I’d recommend to the Mailbag readers. I have some of the other racing books you previously suggested on my Christmas list, but any others that you can add?

David Cubine

RM: Go to Coastal181.com and get Vukovich, Beast, Troy Ruttman, Foyt/Andretti/Petty, Lone Wolf and Second To One and then watch my annual Xmas video in a couple weeks and there are several new books coming out you’ll enjoy.

Q: Recently watched the 2000 Toronto race on YouTube. With 900-horsepower cars and 75,000 fans in attendance, it was a sight to behold. It also reminded me of owner Pat Patrick and the success he had in CART. I always got a kick out of him because of his no-nonsense and grouchy demeanor. Could you provide some background on Patrick and pass on any interesting stories or tidbits about him?

Miles, California

RM: Pat worked for the Michner family and they had Indy cars, so he got started with his own in 1970 (and Johnny Rutherford damn near stole the pole). Patrick won Indy with Johncock in 1973 and again with Emmo in 1989 before he and Penske funded CART’s beginnings. He enjoyed drinking — during the race when he was on the timing stand — so it was always an adventure when a pit reporter asked a question. But he spent a lot of his own money on Indy cars and deservedly got into the Hall of Fame.

Greg Moore certainly managed to find Patrick’s lighter side. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: Seen any episodes of this very intriguing and interesting show produced by Dale Jr.? I find it fascinating. Perhaps he will move toward Midwest venues in future episodes.

Tom Fitzgerald

RM: Well I like his podcast but you are probably talking about his Lost Speedways series on NBCSN and Peacock, which is also very entertaining. I’ll try to get him to Jungle Park.

Q: Could someone estimate how fast a really fast road car (e.g., a Ferrari 488 GTB or one of the McLarens) could lap Indianapolis? Would they have to brake for the corners, or with the banking would they just ease off the throttle? It would be interesting to see the comparison both to modern IndyCars and the historic ones. For example, what is the last year that the 488 GTB would have sat on pole?

Michael Sturm

RM: Michael Cannon, the championship-winning engineer for Scott Dixon and old friend, was kind enough to answer your question, but it’s all guesswork:

“Taking a wild-ass guess… Well, a qual lap for a NASCAR is around 185mph. This is a proper race car — 1000+lbs of downforce, big horsepower and racing tires. A stock Ferrari 488 GTB is about 200lbs lighter but several hundred horsepower shy of a Cup car. And much lower on downforce, too. So, without going into an in-depth sim, you can guess that the 488 won’t come close to a current Cup car’s performance, and certainly wouldn’t be flat around Indy. (Yeah, it looks easy on TV — kinda like the 4” beam looks easy when watching the Olympics.) If I had to guess, maybe around 150mph as an average — in the early 1960s era of performance. As a general comment, there is nothing sadder than a high-performance road car on a racetrack. Yeah, they’re fast compared to some Oldsmobile/Buick, but can’t put a stripe on a purpose-built race car.”

Q: I’m moving somewhere into Hendricks County soon! I’m looking forward to meeting people who already know and appreciate IndyCar, and experiencing the local short track scene. Just a few questions: Are there any neighborhoods in Hendricks you would recommend I avoid looking for housing (crime and such)? Which Hoosier tracks put on the best show for each of USAC’s three national series? And do you, or any locals who read the Mailbag, know which tracks have a solid series for street stocks or late models?

Thanks, Indy-bound Steve

RM: Hendricks County is about as safe and friendly as you could want, and you’ll only be an hour away from Kokomo, Putnamville, Paragon, Bloomington and 90 minutes from Gas City. Lucas Oil Raceway is in your backyard, and everywhere I’ve mentioned puts on good midget and sprint shows, with Lucas hosting Silver Crown again and possibly the Indiana State Fairgrounds if Bob Sargent brings it back again. The street stocks and late models run pavement at The Speedrome on the eastside of Indy, and at all those dirt tracks as well.

Q: A while back, you wrote a piece asking the question, ‘what makes a great race?’ My question today is, ‘what makes a great fan?’ We do gripe about every little thing, do we complain about every racing call, or as fans do we just enjoy the sport as it is?

I grew up in New Mexico and became a fan of Little Al and Galles Racing. In 1994 when Little Al signed with Penske I had a huge problem. Do I stay a fan of Galles, or am I now a Penske fan? Do I still cheer on Little Al? My dad pointed out that you can be fan of a driver no matter what team, you can be a fan of a team, and he also pointed out that you can just be a fan of the sport. And that is what I continue to be: a fan no matter what I think of the race, the drivers the teams. What says you Robin, what makes a great fan?

Horacio, Denver, Colorado

RM: I guess a great fan is one willing to travel to races and buy shirts and hats to support his or her favorite driver, but it could also be someone who doesn’t travel but never misses practice or qualifying on NBC Gold and watches or tapes every race. I think we have a lot of passionate fans that visit RACER.com and they can be very opinionated, but it shows they care. I chased Jim Hurtubise all over the Midwest when I was 15-16-17, and I just hope that kind of passion still exists with young fans.

More RACER