Q: So is it a given that the Toronto replacement would be a second race at Mid-Ohio on the same weekend? Or is it possible that maybe we could see a race at Watkins Glen again?
RM: It’s not a given that Toronto isn’t going to happen, and our pal Norris McDonald of the Toronto Sun recently wrote that promoter Green Savoree has asked the city to let them postpone the July date and try to find another one. Hope it happens, because two years in a row without a race is usually fatal.
Q: Last week you had a letter from someone wondering if IndyCar can do anything to “improve the environment“ or “reduce their carbon footprint.” Not sure about other people, but when I go to a IndyCar race I want to hear engines roar, see flat-out speed and passing, the smell of fuel, and tires smoking when a driver pulls away from his pits. The very last thing I am thinking about is a carbon footprint. As is the case nowdays with millennials, if you tell them that something like tires are “sustainable” they would get giddy and their eyes will glaze over with happiness. I say keep things the way they are and leave carbon footprints to the Prius drivers. Agree?
RM: The day engines don’t growl, tires don’t smoke and drivers don’t control their destiny, I hope to be dead and buried behind Herk’s old muffler shop.
Q: Long-time reader, first-time to write in. I do love the candid opinions you offer, even the ones I don’t 100% agree with. I live close to KY Speedway and have enjoyed many races from IndyCar and NASCAR there over the years. A co-worker and friend lives close enough to the speedway that a number of teams and media members use his property to park since it has helped them beat traffic out of the speedway, more so than leaving through the tunnel.
Like many of your readers I would love to see an IndyCar return, but I can tell you that nothing will be racing there for the foreseeable future. The grounds surrounding the track are filled with thousands of semi trailers, most of which have return items inside. It is to the point that local law enforcement work there on their days off to guard the millions of dollars of merchandise. It can still be used for testing and the Rusty Wallace/Mario Andretti drive or ride style events (did one last year), but the entire parking area, media parking, much of the camping etc is full of trucks. Sad news, hopefully one day something will happen, but there isn’t much hope for it from this area.
Jamin Tuttle, Bedford, KY
RM: Thanks very much Jamin for that report. I had no idea, but there just hasn’t been much talk about Kentucky lately and maybe now we know why.
Q: Robin, thank you for your column and your articles, and all you’ve done for IndyCar racing over the years. I’ve enjoyed it all going back to your Indy Star days, and have always respected that you say what you think, even when it may be seen as controversial by some.
I have been lucky enough to have made my living out of IndyCar racing for the last 30 or so years, so maybe I have some insight that others don’t, but I am just amazed at some of the letters. One guy wants Indy cars on dirt? Another wants a race tire to last 500 miles for eco reasons? Same questions over and over again? So many bitching about this little thing or that stupid stuff, or sounding the death knell over and over again… it’s sometimes unbelievable.
Are these people for real? You must just shake your head when you read this stuff sometimes. Has to drive you crazy. I, too, wish IndyCar would start the season earlier. I watched NASCAR on dirt and kind of enjoyed it, just something different. I do worry about the long-term future for IndyCar, just because car companies are headed for electric cars. But nothing I do or don’t do is going to change any of it. People need to relax and enjoy and support what we have or watch something else if they don’t like what they see. I hope you keep hanging in for a long time, and get the book written. Keep the Mailbag and the articles coming!
RM: Thanks, between my editor Mark and myself we try to limit or just ban the same questions week after week, and it took me too long to make a stand. I’m blown away with all the people who write 52 weeks a year and truly care about IndyCar but a few of them aren’t too realistic about what we have and the hurdles Roger Penske is facing. Not sure we’d still have a series if it wasn’t for The Captain, and there is more to be thankful for than hand-wringing and bitching. It’s a challenging time for all motorsports — not just IndyCar.
Q: Over the different eras of IndyCar that you have covered, who were the best qualifiers in your opinion? Perhaps they were not able to transfer it into wins, but drivers that you would put your money on to let it all hang out for a lap or two in order get it into the sho?
Josh from Maine
RM: Rick Mears, Mario, Bobby Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Helio and Will Power are the fine-tuners who would always hang it out qualifying, while Bob Harkey, Tom Bigelow, Jerry Sneva, John Mahler and Rich Vogler were always willing to give their car keys and wallet to a crew member and drive off into Turn 1 prepared to make it or break it or…
Q: With all the bright ideas IndyCar has had through the years, what is the one that you thought was a great idea but just didn’t work out? Mine was the aero kits — loved the idea until I saw them, and then saw all the bits fly off.
RM: The Hawaiian Super Prix. Oh, just kidding. The aero kits seemed like a cool concept and had everyone talking, but the devil was in the details. To be honest I can’t think of many great ideas to come out of USAC, CART or the IRL.