Sometimes you have to lose something in order to really appreciate it. Robin Miller’s Mailbag was a big part of RACER.com for years, and we obviously knew during all of that time that it was popular. But it was only during the later stages of Robin’s illness and then the aftermath of his passing in August that we fully understood its cultural importance to racing fans, and IndyCar fans in particular. It was more than just something people liked to click on and argue about – although it certainly was that. It was a direct line between fans and the heart of the sport, and for many, an integral part of their Wednesday routine: wake up, make coffee, open Mailbag.
Robin cared deeply about including and elevating the sport’s fans and making sure their voices could be heard, and for that reason, he made it very clear to us that he wanted the Mailbag to live on after he was gone. That’s easier said than done. How do you replace Robin Miller?
Many in the IndyCar paddock at Long Beach had clearly given the idea some thought, and the entire weekend was sprinkled with people coming up to offer us suggestions and recommendations. On a few occasions, an email landed in our inboxes from someone presenting themselves as Robin’s heir apparent, which always felt a little strange. And truth be told, if Robin hadn’t cared so deeply about the Mailbag carrying on, there’s a reasonably good chance it wouldn’t have, simply because nobody can do Robin Miller as well as Robin Miller did.
But the Mailbag is returning, and in a way that we hope recognizes Robin’s uniqueness while maintaining the spirit of what he loved about it. We’re getting around the issue of ‘replacing’ Robin by… not replacing him. At least, not in a straight swap. The new Mailbag will simply be the RACER Mailbag, and while questions will be directed to the RACER team member best qualified to answer them, the majority will find their way to the desk of Marshall Pruett.
And it won’t just be us answering the questions. One of my own favorite parts of Robin’s Mailbags were when he forwarded questions on to the IndyCar race director, or to team managers, engineers and mechanics to get insights direct from the source. That will continue with Mailbag 2.0. We’ll also be inviting special guests to step in and take questions every now and then, along with a couple of other little surprises. The little things that used to sneak into the original Mailbag during the production stage to make Robin chuckle will probably continue, too. (Like the week we got tired of having to find photos to illustrate page after page of questions about the same subject, so we ran a random shot of Nigel Mansell on a horse. He got a kick out of that.)
Send your questions – be they about IndyCar, Formula 1, IMSA, NASCAR, whatever – to firstname.lastname@example.org, and look for the first edition of the RACER Mailbag on Wednesday, November 3. From there, it will pick up the traditional Miller’s Mailbag schedule and be waiting for you when you log on every Wednesday morning.
There’s no need to email us after the first week to tell us “it’s not the same.” We know that going in. And it’s deliberately not trying to be. We just want to honor the legacy that Robin built, and deliver on his wish to ensure that fans have a way to be heard.
One more thing. The ban on questions about Milwaukee and Cleveland still stands. Robin wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The new Mailbag inbox is open and awaiting your questions. It’s time for Wednesday to be Mailbag Day again.