Q: I really feel like in a universe where USAC had held it together in the ’70s, we’d be talking about the likes of Bell and Larson dueling like that around a lot of Indy circuits. Incredible talent. Not trying to name drop, but I met Lone Star JR at the Chili Bowl a few years ago and was then talking with him again at Indy, and he was insanely impressed with Bell’s talent. Shame he went up on the cushion before we could see him go to the end. I also walked away very impressed with Chase Elliott. I know he’s a Cup champion, but to run that with little experience and do as well as he did impressed me.
I do wish IndyCar drivers would stop by (when things are all settled of course). Not because I think it would be a big boost for the sport, but because I feel this is a great event and would be amazing to see them around other greats of the sport. Finally, this is an insane proposal, but perhaps someone should consider building an asphalt short track in the greater Tulsa, Oklahoma Route 44 area? I say this because the entry list for the Chili Bowl and other racing series seemed choked full of Okies now. Would be cool to see, say a Nazareth clone with events from IndyCar, XFinity running there.
Gus in Tulsa
RM: Elliott did a good job and says he wants to come back. As for IndyCar guys, Conor Daly and Santino Ferrucci both ran the Chili Bowl in 2020, but IndyCar needs Dixon, Power, Newgarden, Rossi or Herta to make some headlines and draw some attention. If USAC hadn’t taken the dirt tracks out of the Championship division in 1971 then Larson, Bell, Rico, Sunshine, Windom and Justin Grant might all be IndyCar drivers today.
Q: I was glad to see that the promoters had some prominent signage about “IndyCar at St. Louis” during last week’s Chili Bowl. I mainly wanted to make you aware of it if you hadn’t happened to see it. Any idea what it would take to get IndyCar to do some direct advertising there? Do you think Marco would consider running the Chili Bowl now that he’s not full-time?
Mark from PA
RM: That’s all Chris Blair, the GM at Gateway who promotes IndyCar all year. I’ve told IndyCar for years they need a booth with drivers, hats and schedules to pass out at the Chili Bowl, but it’s never happened. Marco was interested in hot-lapping a midget a few years ago before the BC39 at IMS, so I would think he’s still game.
Q: I am well aware of Keith Kunz and Clausen-Marshall as powerhouses in midget racing but it seems in the last couple of years there is a new kid on the block — Chad Boat, or CB Industries. When did Chad hang up the helmet and turn to totally focusing on providing rides for drivers like Chris Windom — 2020 USAC champ in a CB Industries midget?
Scott in Michigan
RM: Not sure Chad has officially quit driving, but a couple of years ago he made the transition to car owner and it’s worked out nicely. He’s a great kid from a great family and a racer to the bone.
Q: Can you tell me about the history of the “lollipop” used in pit stops? It’s used in both series I watch, IndyCar and IMSA, and has been since I started watching, about four years ago. Thank you for considering my question, and the interesting column every week.
RM: No really sure who invented it or what year, but I do remember waving the pit board at Bentley Warren at Trenton in the early ’70s to show him where his pit was located, so I would guess somewhere in the mid-’70s the lollipop became popular.
Q: Like so many others, I enjoy your insight and shared stories. I have a quick tire question for you. Are there ever occasions when a team might run a combination of reds and blacks?
RM: Thanks for reading and participating, Bill. No, Firestone doesn’t allow blacks and reds to be mixed.
Q: In retrospect, now that IndyCar has been dumped by Richmond and Iowa, do you think it would or could rethink its position with regards to running a future race at Pocono, assuming Pocono would now take it back?
RM: I imagine anything is possible, but it was pretty much a mutual divorce until NASCAR dropped one of Pocono’s weekends and then suddenly it wanted IndyCar to stay. At least that’s what I heard, but I think it’s very iffy that the Tricky Triangle ever returns to the IndyCar schedule.
Q: I first attended Indy in 1959 and a passionate love affair began that continues today. Your article on the ’60s absolutely overwhelmed me with memories — many of them good, but sadly tempered by the horrible fatality statistics. I remember walking home from school with tears running down my face after one of my teachers told me Tony Bettenhausen had been killed. Likewise, sitting under the stands by myself after witnessing the Sachs/MacDonald accident and questioning whether or not I wanted to continue this love affair (at the ripe age of 15). Thank God IndyCar is so much safer today.
On the happy side, you reminded me of so many good memories, that I think I will dig out my old Floyd Clymer yearbooks from the ’60s and bring up a few more smiles. Thanks for a wonderful series and everything else you do to keep us informed.
P.S. At one time back in the ’60s I read that the Hoosier Hundred was the second-richest race in the world, with only Indy beating it. Can you confirm or shoot it down?
RM: Always fun to look back. As for the Hoosier Hundred, it was No. 2 on the pay scale behind the Indy 500 and had some added money from ABC’s Wide World of Sports in addition to sellout crowds. In 1967, Mario made $11,000 for 30th at Indy after winning the pole, and made the same amount for capturing the Hoosier Hundred.