Q: Is Juncos Racing finished at the IndyCar level? Will Dreyer & Reinbold be entering cars at the 500 this year? Is there any more talk of this Top Gun team with R.C. Enerson entering the 500?
Jim, Ontario, Canada
RM: Ricardo is always looking for a way to get back to Indy and still has cars, but not sure about 2021. I believe Dennis Reinbold will likely run Sage Karam again but not sure about J.R. Hildebrand. There was a story in The Indianapolis Star recently that said Top Gun was up and running so hopefully Enerson gets a shot. They bought cars from Dallara for Indy, so that’s a good sign. (ED: You can find out more about who is planning what for Indy in Marshall Pruett’s piece from yesterday).
Q: I saw an article on another website stating that IndyCar events on road courses will be only two rather than the traditional three days. Is it true? I’ve seen nothing on RACER.com or IndyCar.com about this.
David, Waxhaw, NC
RM: I don’t think anything has been officially announced, but my understanding is two days for road courses and two and a half days for street courses (with a late Friday practice period).
Q: I’ve been an avid consumer of your work since the Indy Star days — you are amazing at what you do, and I wish you all the best. Thank you for decades of insight, and sharing a passion for a sport we love. That book would be priceless!
With the announcement of Mission Foods sponsoring JPM, it hit home that I use their products regularly. I’m sure many of us diehards would like to support the series’ sponsors where/when we can. Is there a site that lists the IndyCar sponsors to help us show our passion and support via our wallet? Love the different sponsors and liveries over the course of a season, but it can get a bit confusing. Suggestions?
RM: There is no site like that, per se, but I imagine just going to the team’s website and learning about the sponsors would be easiest. Your idea has some merit so I sent it to IndyCar. Maybe having a place to look on IndyCar.com would create some traffic and interest.
Q: I haven’t heard much about lack of mechanical grip hindering passing for a few years. What’s your opinion of the current status? Any mutterings from any drivers? Is it even a relevant question now? With Dallara making the bodies, it ought to be a lot easier to change if warranted instead of trying to write a lot of construction rules for teams to innovate around as in other racing series.
Steve De Cenzo, Vancouver, WA
RM: Let’s ask Bill Pappas, the VP of competition and engineering for IndyCar. “We are always listening to the paddock and fans as to whether the drivers can pass, especially on ovals. Mechanical grip is ultimately quantified by tire grip. So, if we were to change the bodywork to increase downforce, which doesn’t necessarily improve passing, the tire needs to be harder to deal with the increased loads, which will reduce mechanical grip. We are continually working with Firestone to tune and optimize the tire to ensure the drivers have enough mechanical grip. It’s not perfect, but we do have competitive and challenging racing.”
Q: So, what do you think of NASCAR racing on the converted dirt track at Bristol? Bold and imaginative or gimmicky? Maybe board track racing next year?
Dave Morgason, Plainfield
RM: A little of all three, but pretty smart because it’s a return to their roots and FOX is promoting the hell out of it and it will get a big audience. Be nice to think it won’t be hard and slick, but today’s new NASCAR fans probably don’t care. It’s making people talk, and they’re gonna watch.
Q: I saw that John Oreovicz has a new book coming out called Indy Split about the split in 1996 that fractured the foundation of IndyCar racing and almost took the Indy 500 down with it. My first thought was you, Robin, know more about this topic than anyone, so who does Oreovicz think he is? Then I saw you did write the forward, lending much credibility to this ugly saga.
My second question then: it happened a long time ago, and who cares? There is no doubt that IndyCar racing and even the 500 has not rebounded from those days, but my bet is that even without The Split we would still be in the same spot due to the proliferation of entertainment choices we have today. And besides, most fans under 40 or so don’t even know about The Split. What’s so new and different in this book that would make me want to spend $35 on it?
Jim Fischer, Mentor, OH
RM: First off all, Oreo is a good writer who covered CART/IRL/IndyCar for ESPN.com, Autosport, RACER and was the PR man for PacWest. He knows the sport, the players and the politics, and this book needed to be written because it lays out all the stupidity, egos and mistakes that were made on both sides. And you can’t say The Split didn’t do the damage, just look at the attendance, sponsorship, TV ratings and media coverage that CART had in the ’90s and see how it’s diminished today. You didn’t mean to but you almost sounded like Fred Nation, the former IMS mouthpiece who blathered that the Indy 500 was in decline in 1995. Really, Fred? You mean when Roger Penske couldn’t get a ticket unless he paid double face value? And there were 50,000 people on hand for Bump Day? John spent several years getting interviews and going over notes and old stories, and I think it was about as even-handed a view as anyone would want. I’m proud of Oreo for penning a much-needed history book.