Robin Miller's Mailbag for August 18, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for August 18, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for August 18, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: The racing card at Nashville was intriguing to me. It seems to me both Trans Am and SRO America pay to rent tracks. They must, because they draw very few people to their standalone events, but are a welcome addition to a bigger weekend of racing. There must be some compelling business reason to host them. If my guess about their business model is accurate, why not have that same show package at Watkins Glen? Obviously a sponsor would still be needed, but maybe the price wouldn’t be as large because of help from the sports car series. Also, I’m aware I might be banned for asking about Watkins Glen too many times….

Eric Z, Lancaster, NY

RM: They have to do a deal with the track, but I’m sure they get a break because they add to the show. You’re only banned if you ask about MIS or Kentucky returning in this millennium.

Q: Years ago, when Bryan Herta wrote the Racer To Racer column in RACER magazine, he had a conversation with Paul Tracy about how many days of testing they had in the ’90s. The lack of restrictions obviously served them and all of their competitors well. Also, a couple years back, Gil de Ferran mentioned that on-track testing was one of the most cost-effective ways to gain data and improve your team. With all of that in mind, what would it really cost teams if the on-track testing was opened up a little bit? Everyone is going to spend to what their budget will allow. If it’s more cost-effective to load up the team and go on the road rather than run tons of simulations, why not allow teams to choose what’s best for them?

Moonshine Dave, Nashville

RM: In the days of unlimited budgets, nobody cared about the price until it was obvious a couple of teams were gaining a major advantage. Today, teams are limited to seven total test days (including an all-skate at IMS) and it’s right around $50,000 per team unless a couple teams rent Sebring and split the cost.

Q: Thanks to Marshall Pruett for the silly season updates. Like musical chairs, it is good to be in a seat when the music stops! My question is a sort of silly season type question regarding the 2022 season schedule. Have you heard anything about it? Any new potential venues, or sadly, some that may be leaving? Any date when IndyCar will make a formal announcement?

Dale, Richmond, VI

RM: I think Iowa has a good shot at returning, but I’m concerned about Portland’s future and what’s going to happen in Canada. I imagine the schedule will be out in a few weeks, but IndyCar remains optimistic that Toronto can bounce back.

Q: With the news Bobby Rahal is trying to revive Iowa, is there any other events that could be revived? Specifically COTA — it’s permanent and requires a lot less to make happen. And it’s a great potentially market for the series. As far as other street races go, is there anything else in the pipeline? I know they’re tough from a logistics standpoint and require a ton of effort and don’t always give the best race, but it’s a good way to grow the sport.

A city like Denver would make all the sense. Young, growing, active community… reviving that race would be a solid idea. I’ve been saying for a decade now a that road race at Indy on Labor Day weekend would be a smash. We’re basically there now; any chance they punt it two weeks and make it the official close to summer?

Joe Jurek, Chicago

RM: Iowa is all I’ve heard, and COTA couldn’t get out of its IndyCar contract fast enough.

Q: Who’s up for a trip back into the cornfields? A: Everyone. Barry Cantrell/Motorsport Images

Q: I’ve been reading you for years, even when you worked at that paper. Just want to wish you the best. Heck, you’ve been kicked around on Indy dirt tracks and in the press, so I know you’re as tough as AJ’s ol’ boot. You’ve given us plenty of joy and common sense. I’m glad someone can tell A.J. and Roger where the sun rises. I’ve been an Indy fan forever – went to my first 500 in ’85 and I’ve been to races since I was five years old at Taft Stadium in OKC. Thanks for posting my e-mails. You’ve done more for racing and Indy than most of the competitors and “suits.”

John Langston, Edmond, OK

RM: Thanks John, I’m honored to be on the receiving end of an A.J. ass-kicking or diatribe because I know he’ll always be my pal.

Q: Hopefully Australia opens its borders soon so I can get to another IndyCar race. Been too long between drinks! You’ll be pleased to know that Scott McLaughlin’s presence in the series has not only given us the best TV coverage we’ve see in a while, but also raised the profile of IndyCar racing among Supercars fans who’d never seen IndyCar racing before. I have even had a few people at work come up to me and ask questions about the 500 and whatever else, knowing that I’m a long-time fan. Great to see more of my countrymen taking an interest in the series. Long may it continue!

Andrew K.

RM: Wait until he wins his first race, and it’s coming. Splendid personality who fans gravitate towards instantly.

Q: Are today’s race cars becoming too safe? It seems that wheel-to-wheel contact in IndyCar and F1 is becoming the norm, and the “win or crash” mentality in Cup is now the rule rather than the exception. As drivers gain more confidence in the car’s safety features, they seem to be getting more aggressive and maybe a little less concerned about getting hurt in a crash. Consequently, there are more crashes and torn-up cars. Reminds me of when they put roll cages on sprints and midgets… more wheel banging and slide jobs resulting in more crashes, but with fewer serious injuries. I’m all for safety, but not at the expense of the quality of the racing. Your thoughts?
Larry Moore 
RM: Too safe at 230mph going into Turn 1 at Indy? I don’t think so. It’s safer and more predictable and survivable compared to 25 years ago, but “too safe” is a stretch. IndyCar has had three fatalities in the past two decades and that’s three too many. The aura of danger is part of IndyCar’s attraction, so let’s leave things alone.