Q: Do you have a good story concerning General Chuck Yeager? I know he’s driven the pace car and did the flyover at Indianapolis, and I once saw Chuck and A.J. hot-lap a Oldsmobile Cutlass pace car at the State Fairgrounds. He’s one guy I’m sure the drivers had great respect for.
RM: The only story I know is the night you spoke of when A.J. gave him a ride. All I know is that the race driver did everything possible to scare the famous flyer, and Yeager promised that if he ever got Foyt in a fighter jet it would be a big payback.
Q: The Tom Wolfe novel ‘The Right Stuff’ has been making a comeback recently with a new series on Disney Plus. In the documentary, it is mentioned that race car drivers were among the earliest consideration for America’s first astronauts. Of course, they went with test pilots. My question is, which of the Indianapolis/sprint car stars of the late ’50s do you think might have taken up the task of going into space if they were offered the chance? Could you imagine Eddie Sachs being the first American in space?
RM: Let’s not stick to the 1950s, although Mike Nazaruk was as brave as they made ‘em along with Larry “Crash” Crockett and Jimmy Bryan. I think Jim Hurtubise, Johnny White, Bobby Unser and Sachs would have all been good candidates, because an astronaut had to be brave and ready to go into the unknown.
Q: It goes without saying Donald Davidson is a motorsport icon. My initial reaction to hearing about his retirement was to be upset and sad. I absolutely love and look forward to listening to him. What a unique treasure for IndyCar fans to have enjoyed. But my feelings are truly selfish. We should all be happy for Donald. Everyone deserves to retire. I hope he enjoys all of the adoration and positive words he will receive the next few weeks. Happy retirement Donald, may it be long and full of joy. Just hope we get to hear you on the race broadcast next May?
PS. Robin, you can never retire.
RM: He is indeed a treasure Jeff, but I think he’s slowed down quite a bit in the past couple years and lost some of that desire to speak at functions or do his radio show. I’m not sure if he still wants to do the IMS Network on race day, but I imagine they’ll ask him. I can’t quit, I support two bookies and one gambling website and their families need me.
Q: Saw a piece on Jungle Park Speedway on Little E’s “Lost Speedways.” I was not aware of the rich history of Jungle Park and I am planning a side trip to see its remains on my annual trip to the 500 this year. My question is, during the episode, they referenced a book – ‘The Ghosts Of Jungle Park’ – by Tom W. Williams. I’ve tried to score a copy and it is evidently out of print. Are you familiar with this book? Any ideas on how to find a copy? Appreciate any guidance you can offer. Thanks for everything through the years!
Jim Peabody, Colorado Springs, CO
RM: I asked well-known motorsports author Dave Argabright and here’s his response:
“The gift shop at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum normally carries the book, but it appears to be sold out. The book is available from some bookstores as a collector’s item retailing for $500-plus, but it’s hard to find one at a reasonable price at this stage.”
Q: Not really a question so much as just a note to say thanks for what you do. Having Donald Davidson announce his retirement really brought it home to me how much we lean on you guys for our racing fandom support. I’m getting older (I’m 50) and Indy and IndyCar has been a pretty significant part of my life. As a military family moving around so much, our traditions had to be ‘portable’, and the Indy 500 and the Ohio State Buckeyes fit that bill.
Thanks for being such a big part of that. Thanks for your passion and your selfishly biased opinions… selfish biased opinions which I share as well; that IndyCar and the Indy 500 are the greatest things since rearview mirrors, and what is best for the series, the race, and the people on and off-track who keep it alive, is what’s best for me. Best wishes for you and your health this Christmas. Give a wave to the Speedway next time you drive by for all of us whose traditions must be portable and most of all, keep doing what you do. We love ya, old man!
Chris Petersen, West of Atlanta
RM: Well, thanks for the kind words and supporting IndyCar all these years, but I’m just trying to out-live A.J. and he’s so tough I wouldn’t bet against him.