Robin Miller’s Mailbag for April 14, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller’s Mailbag for April 14, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Robin Miller’s Mailbag for April 14, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: After I read Max’s letter and your response, I take up your challenge. I’ll argue against your Mt. Rushmore with my Mt. Everest. As far as major titles go, on Rushmore you have A.J. (seven IndyCar), Mario (one F1, four IndyCar), Gurney (one U.S. sports car), and Parnelli (none) for a total of 13 championships. On Everest I have Hamilton (seven F1), A.J. (seven IndyCar), Olivier Gendebien (five European sports car), Richard Petty (seven NASCAR), and Peter Gregg (six IMSA) for a total of 32 championships. You heavily value diversity and I heavily value championships won. Being diverse does not guarantee winning titles in multiple disciplines any more than winning championships guarantees winning titles in other disciplines.

Also, I don’t know if your Mt. Rushmore is intentionally all Americans, but if not, there have been more than a few top-shelf wheelmen from across the pond you know! I don’t feel one can compare drivers from different eras. But what you can compare is what drivers did against their contemporaries in any given era. It lessens the impact of track type (dirt/paved) and car type (front/rear engines and aero). Because of that, it is a good driver assessment tool plus you don’t have think about Hamilton/Jackie Stewart/Nuvolari or Dixon/Foyt/DePaulo in a make-believe “tradin’ paint” session. But in the end, you’re right, there’s no right or wrong, it’s purely subjective. And it’s probably best discussed over a few too many beers, sitting in a campground, the night before the Indy 500!

Bill B.

RM: Well, with all due respect to you and the deceased, comparing Peter Gregg and Olivier Gendebien to Parnelli is laughable. He was one of Indy’s greatest, fantastic in sprint cars and midgets, stock cars, sports cars and finally off-road. He won the 1970 Trans-Am title and was a USAC sprint car champion twice when it was the badass series of America. And, yes, my Mt. Rushmore was about American racers and an international one would need about 12 heads. It’s fun to argue about and I appreciate your stance, thanks for writing.

The easiest way to ensure that Gendebien secures his rightful place among the greats is to come up with a Belgian Mt. Rushmore. He and Ickx are walk-up starts; we’ll leave it to the Belgian Mailbag to debate the other two. Jenatzy? Boutsen? Theys? Motorsport Images

Q: I wanted to ask you what you know about the new Ozarks International Raceway. Pictures of their progress show up about once a week in my Facebook feed. It would be great to get more IndyCar action here in Missouri (though technically Gateway is in Illinois.) There is very little info about it on the track’s Facebook page or website. Is this on IndyCar’s radar? I can’t imagine someone would build a track without expectations of securing national series? Any insight as to the $$$ behind it or future plans would be appreciated.

Fred, a Hoosier living in St. Louis

RM: No, this is one of those road courses built for doctors, lawyers, sports car junkies and vintage racers. IndyCar has no interest.

Q: What can you tell us about Mark Dismore’s career? After his massive crash at Indy he almost won a couple of years later.

Tom, Michgan

RM: Diz was a helluva racer and a great guy on top of it, and came from his go-karts all the way to Indy and the Rolex (he co-drove to victory for Dan Gurney’s team in 1993). He finally got a decent car in the IRL and won at Texas in 1999. He was one of the best ever in Formula Atlantic car and today owns and operates the very racy go-kart track in New Castle, Indiana.

Q: Is the World of Outlaws still a strong series? How the hell do they race so many crazy nights? Another funny thing was we were driving home from Lebanon Valley and there was Steve Kinser at the car wash on the side of the road washing his car. We turned around and spent 15-20 minutes chatting. Wish we could travel less than two hours to catch some quality dirt racing. Not that NASCAR at Bristol. Suggestions?

Phil Stone

RM: Every time I see a photo of a race it’s packed, so I’d say WoO is doing quite well in these trying times for promoters. They have some good sponsors and run for good purses. Why don’t you come to Indiana for USAC Sprint Week in July? You would be impressed, no wings but lots of great racing.

Q: I was at the Nazareth National Speedway July 13, 1968 when Lloyd Ruby ran his rear engine car. Fastest car on the straights, but couldn’t hold the turns. It was Al Unser’s first win in big cars, first night race for USAC and the longest track (one mile and an eighth) on the schedule before it was turned into pavement. Do you recall the dirt track?

Stu Slifkinm, Murrells Inlet, SC

RM: Yep, I was there the night Mario won in 1969 and then rushed to the hospital for the birth of daughter Barbie. Big Al was a demon on those one-milers and Nazareth was fast and of course that fit Mario’s style.