Q: We hear Roger Penske is open to discussions about a possible F1 race at Indy in the future, and there have even been suggestions about making it a doubleheader with IndyCar, or a tripleheader with IndyCar and NASCAR. F1 still has its own garages at Indy, but how long would it take to convert from the F1 pit setup without a wall to the IndyCar setup with a wall? Is there a any way to configure it so both can be used in a single weekend? I can just about imagine it with an IndyCar road course car count and a gap in the wall to exit the F1 pits into the IndyCar pit lane before getting back out on track.
RM: I do hear The Captain is lobbying hard to get Miami’s date, but it won’t be a doubleheader with IndyCar or NASCAR.
Q: Everyone has an opinion regarding tracks they want to see IndyCar visit, and the Mailbag has seen this topic discussed ad nauseum. So for a different approach, how about your take on a track that is within the extended realm of possibility, and where would you like to see IndyCar race? How about one outside the realm of possibility? Last question: Do you see more future tie-ups with other race series such as IMSA or NASCAR? It seems like the time is right for bringing fans from the various disciplines together.
KB in Florida
RM: Road Atlanta or Mosport would be my choices for IndyCar but will probably never happen. IMSA/IndyCar together on another road course likely makes the most sense, although IMS with NASCAR promises to be entertaining.
Q: Saw the article you wrote on Paul Page’s book. Seems like last I heard, you weren’t a fan of his for some reason, so I wasn’t either. Nice article, glad you worked things out!
RM: There are always things to regret writing or saying in your life, and I picked on Paul for a long time for some unknown reason. I’m glad he forgave me.
Q: Do you possess any leaks, gossip, exclusives, anything, about the officialdom’s analysis and decision immediately following the Indy 500 1989 Fittipaldi-Unser Jr. collision? I’m sure many Unser fans think to this day that Emmo should’ve been penalized in some way, because it seems his rear sliding out is what bumped Al into the wall. My own thoughts are that Al Jr. gave as good as he got seconds before, almost shoving Emmo onto the grass, that Emmo was slightly ahead as they bent into Turn 3, and that Al Jr. tried to crowd him through the corner.
Anthony V., Indianapolis, IN
RM: Yeah, let me give you the unofficial analysis: two champions racing for their first Indy 500 victory going into Turn 3 side-by-side and refusing to back off. It’s called, good, hard racing.
Q: Your response to John Graham’s letter last week was a realistic and true commentary on the state of how drivers get to Indy. USAC and short trackers in general aren’t on the radar, but it doesn’t have to be like that anymore. There is a real opportunity for short trackers.
Drivers and owners are open to having a road race program and another for ovals. There are four of those currently on the grid to various degrees. Someone would have to start a program that gives a short tracker a year in Lights. Then as long as the driver learns and shows competence, they move on – ideally to a two-year, ovals-only deal in IndyCar. The Indy Lights grid is paltry, and I’m certain any one of those teams would be happy to take on any reasonably talented, sponsored driver. A pipeline of other potential drivers would also need to be in the system doing the same program. The drivers could continue to do their own short track deals, and it would generate real interest in IndyCar on that level.
Of course it wouldn’t change overnight, but incrementally, over time, it would work on a sporting and promotional level. The IRL had that going for a short time. Obviously it fizzled out too quickly for a variety of reasons, so it didn’t make a lasting impact.
Before you say anything, yes, money. Who’s going to pay for it? The old where (if?) there’s a will there’s a way will take care of that if someone with influence can get behind a guy like Kody Swanson, for example. If someone can convince a guy like Davey Hamilton to really believe in and help push it, I think it could happen. Not just a hopeless, “good luck, kid” one-off drive at Indy. This is all hypothetical but besides Kody, who else would fit the bill to move into IndyCar in terms of talent and fan base?
Eric Z, Lancaster, NY
RM: Maybe Sunshine (Tyler Courtney) if Clauson/Marshall Racing would want to pursue it, but an expensive proposition. I don’t see a big groundswell of support from anyone on this.