Q: Since we have the current schedule, which do you think is better? 1) Three consecutive weekends of IndyCar (after a horrendously long offseason). 2) First three races about three or four weeks apart (after a long, long offseason; the original version). I will take the first option. Opening this year with three consecutive race weekends is very nice. Maybe hard on the teams, but very nice to us fans and a more effective lead-up to the month of May (for me). Pretty much means that I no longer care about a double race weekend such as our next one. For those that can actually travel to the races, obviously being spread out might enable more travel. So, I get that the answer is not best for everyone at the same time.
Doug S., Salt Lake City, UT
RM: I will take whatever NBC decides should be on network air.
Q: Thank you for writing the Jimmie Johnson article! It is absolutely unbelievable to see, and listen to, the carping that supposed race fans have done on this subject. One thing for sure – the folks doing the bitching have never raced themselves. What kind of feedback did you get?
RM: Ninety percent agreed with you, but sometimes you only hear from the whiners early and they never resurface.
Q: We should admire J.J.’s guts to try something new at his age, knowing he will not be in the same league of other more experienced drivers. Easiest thing would be to go off into retirement. The attention and publicity he and Carvana are bringing should be appreciated. I’m 69 and remember in the ’60s and ’70s A.J., Mario, and Parnelli were known far more widely than Petty or Pearson. Common people knew those three names. But I believe NASCAR figured something out: entertainment is better than competition, so they started marketing their drivers.
Forget the racing, it’s now the drivers and name recognition. It seems open-wheel racing was left behind. As you wrote, Jimmie Johnson has the largest name recognition so fans should be thankful for that. I also think IndyCar should market the drivers more. Who can say Rossi, Newgarden, O’Ward, Herta, Dixon, etc., are not exciting to watch? I remember the time when fans complained ratings were low because there were no competitive Americans in IndyCar. That cannot be said today. And give attention to the diversity in the series which NASCAR craves. So I am hoping others follow Carvana’s lead – promote the driver, make commercials, market. I hope to see more commercials with Jimmie Johnson. Your thoughts Robin? Thanks for your excellent writing, and the article on Steve Stapp.
Rick, Homestead, FL
RM: Isn’t it ironic that those great Carvana ads list J.J.’s name when everyone in America already knows who he is and the latest marketing ploy from IndyCar has a video with several drivers and doesn’t name one of them? If any group needs to be identified, it’s IndyCar drivers… oops sorry, they’re now called “athletes” by the “Defy Everything” ad campaign – another waste of money. And don’t hold your breath on any sponsors stepping up like Carvana; it’s a $5 billion company that has invested in J.J. and IndyCar like nobody we’ve seen since Target and Honda.
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time and having the integrity to school the whiners who write to you about the realities of IndyCar racing. Your article concerning the awesomeness of Jimmie Johnson taking on IndyCar hit every point right on the mark, and we are all so lucky he took on this challenge. He is class and he brings fantastic attention to the best racing on the planet – bound to help us sustain it for future years. Beyond that, every week you do a great job of straightening less informed people out and educating them (if they care to learn) on the realities of IndyCar 2021, and we all profit from your patience and eloquence in doing so. Do you ever grow tired of people bitching?
Ed Koenig, San Marcos
RM: I guess bitching is part of being a sports fan, not just limited to motorsports, but it’s the lack of common sense that just floors me. Criticizing one of the greatest stock car drivers ever because he’s got the cajones to try something totally different near the end of his career is as stupid as much as it is insulting. And he’s been IndyCar’s best PR man since the first day he tested with Carvana in trying to initiate the general public into what he’s doing.
Q: Just finished your article on Jimmie Johnson and you absolutely nailed it! Not only does he and Carvana bring more eyes to IndyCar, he has 2.6 million Twitter followers! That’s more then the entire IndyCar field times 10 (minus Romain Grosjean who has 1.1 million). As a life-long Indycar fan I can’t thank him enough for what he’s doing for us. Yea there’s a lot of focus on him, but who cares, there’s more focus on IndyCar too.
Brad Heuer, Coeurdalene, ID
RM: You didn’t ask a question, but I like those stats. J.J.’s honesty when he climbs out of the car after practice, qualifying or a race is not only refreshing, it’s newsworthy, and newspapers and TV stations that otherwise ignore IndyCar are suddenly running stories.
Q: Once again at Barber Ryan Hunter-Real got knocked out of a race by something that wasn’t his fault. He’s a talented driver, but is he the unluckiest driver in the paddock? It seems more times than not his car has electrical issues or he gets caught up incidents. What other driver historically has had his kind of frustrating experience, not counting the Andretti Indy curse as Mario and Michael were beasts everywhere else?
Carl, Chenoa, IL
RM: Marshall awards the Cartoon Anvil to the unluckiest driver of each race and it’s pretty hard not to just put RHR’s name on it full-time. His last few years have been plagued by the things you mentioned, and his last win was 2018. I’d say Lloyd Ruby rivaled the Andrettis at Indianapolis and Jim Hurtubise only finished one out of 10 starts, but can’t think of a candidate for regular season misery. Maybe Roger McCluskey or Johnny Rutherford in their early USAC days. Parnelli seemed unlucky more times than not.