The RACER Mailbag, November 10

The RACER Mailbag, November 10

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, November 10

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Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for Marshall Pruett or any of RACER’s other writers can be sent to mailbag@racer.com. Due to the high volume of questions received, we can’t guarantee that every letter will be published, but we’ll answer as many as we can. Published questions may be edited for style or clarity.

Q: Someone has surely thought of this before, but I think this idea has merit. We recently saw Roger Penske driving a Porsche RS Spyder at Goodwood. My idea is that we create a “side-by-side” IndyCar to replace the two-seater currently in use. This Porsche would be perfect for the job. The driver and guest would be side by side. The guest seat could be moved slightly back to accommodate larger individuals. The photo opportunities would be incredible. The guest could watch Mario Andretti at work behind the wheel. The body could be changed by removing the fenders. The engine could be changed out for a Honda or Chevy with the appropriate transmission. Of course, Firestones all the way around.

I firmly believe that the existing two-seater just plain sucks. The passenger cannot see crap. I know this is an outlandish idea, but I think everyone would embrace this as a much better solution than the existing car. Also, this could be another way for IndyCar to get a leg up on the F1 community. Once this has been done, I could see Formula 1 copying this idea eventually.

One other thought on this: I think the engine manufacturers should provide one car each. This way there could be two or three Indy side-by-sides, and this could open up even more possibilities. I firmly believe that this Porsche or something similar would handle better and offer an incredible experience for the driver and passenger. I also think that people would see the benefit of this arrangement over the current car, and wholly support it. Well, I have had my say. The ball is now in your court. Best of luck.

Brian Wilson

MP: I love your energy on this Brian, but what came as a surprise was learning in a follow-up email that you’ve never ridden in the two-seater. Wouldn’t that be a requirement before making declarations on how it sucks, what people can or can’t see, and what would make for a better driver/passenger experience? Like… if you’re going to give a restaurant a negative review, shouldn’t you eat there first before complaining? I’m totally confused.

Nonetheless, the two-season concept has been around forever and works as intended. It’s never been about creating a sports car side-by-side type of thing. The two-seater (and there have been the odd three-seaters elsewhere in the world) program does what IndyCar needs by thrilling and scaring guests who tend to step out of the cars with their minds blown. It’s about giving the average woman and man a chance to experience insane speeds, while exposed in an open-wheeler, and giving them a feel for the crazy forces at play. Dropping them into a weird LMP2 car is a great idea for a sports car series, but not IndyCar.

The Arrows AX3 three-seater F1 car doing its thing in 2001. If nothing else, it was more reliable than the A22 that the team actually raced with that year. Motorsport Images

Q: I live within an hour of WGI. Have attended the NASCAR, IMSA Six Hours and IndyCar weekends. Camping all weekend of course, so I have seen the various crowd levels first-hand. Love The Glen.

In regards to IndyCar, that track is loved by the teams and drivers. It’s a total shame they’re not there. A big issue I perceived during IndyCar’s run at WGI was date equity. The event was placed on terrible weekends for attendance (holiday weekends — July 4th, Labor Day). These are big family gathering/backyard barbecue weekends, and not conducive to bringing people to the racetrack.

Why is it such a hurdle to put these cars on that track and give it a solid date with equity? IMSA and NASCAR draw very well there. Politics aside, since NASCAR/IMSA and IndyCar doubleheader weekends are now a thing, is there any remote hope of seeing these cars and drivers in the future at Watkins?

Thank you!

Ryan from Binghamton

MP: Count me among those who wait for the day when track boss Michael Printup – a big IndyCar fan – and the series announce our return to WGI. You mentioned all the people who love the race; let me add the local highway patrol, as well. Got pulled over for speeding up the two-lane road to WGI during IndyCar’s last visit, and after seeing my IndyCar parking pass and hard card, the officer was kind enough to let me off with a warning.

You raise a great point on dates. I wish I had something to report on talks taking place, but I haven’t heard anything on that front. If it were to happen, you’re right; it would need to land at a place on the calendar where IMSA and NASCAR events aren’t too close, and it would need to miss holidays and such. Who knows, maybe a local poll on preferred weekends for a return by IndyCar could get the conversation started.

Fact: Watching from behind as Indy cars fire through the Bus Stop chicane at impossible speeds and then disappear down the hill will change your understanding of speed and physics. Pure insanity.

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