Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for Marshall Pruett or any of RACER’s other writers can be sent to email@example.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: I read the comment in a recent Mailbag about your jarhead wife (blessings on her continued recovery!) calling our boys in blue (love the bus driver uniforms) the Chair Force. I’m ex-Army and was stationed at the all-branches DLI. We referred to the USAF as the Air Farce, zoomies, and jetters. The Navy was of course the squids. Everyone had their revenge by calling us trees.
Whitney A Warrick
MARSHALL PRUETT: Things I learned early on in our relationship from my wife Shabral:
• There’s no such thing as an ex-Marine. They might not be enlisted, but they never truly left the Corps and are ready to fight for us in an instant.
• If you’re a member of any military branch that isn’t the Marines and make the mistake of identifying yourself as a non-Marine in front of a Marine, be prepared to be ridiculed without mercy. This even goes for one of her brothers who served in the Army.
• My girlfriend, then new wife, and now wife of 16 years, can treat me to a dirt nap whenever I act out, or become too much of a smartass.
• I can also get the dirt nap if I fail to appreciate that while she’s been through boot camp at Parris Island and been trained to fire bazookas, I have not, and should be mindful of the fact that she’s the war fighter in the relationship, and I’m the monkey who taps on a keyboard for a living.
Q: Will IndyCar adopt 18-inch wheels for the 2023 car? F1, NASCAR and IMSA/WEC have all made the jump to the new size. I believe NASCAR is also adopting a larger brake rotor as well. We will see the same for 2023 IndyCar?
Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA
MP: Only the hybrid engine and related systems will be changing in 2023, along with some parts at the rear of the car being replaced by lighter components. The existing PFC brake package is likely to stay in place. Wheel sizing and all kinds of other changes would only be considered for a new chassis, which is a few years away under the series’ current plan.
Q: What do you think the chances are of Kyle Larson someday running the Indianapolis 500?
Dave Morgason, Plainfield, IN
MP: Slim, unfortunately. If I’m Rick Hendrick and have my new champion – who has the potential to become the successor to Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson with multiple titles – I’m keeping him as far away from the risks at the Indy 500 as possible. I know Kyle lives for short track racing, and there are plenty of risks to be found there, but the last thing Rick wants is to lose Kyle to injury for something that truly would fall outside of Larson’s routine.
Here’s what I do know: If fans had the vote, Kyle would be in the Indy 500 every year.
Q: Not really a question, but a response to a recent Mailbag letter. It was suggested that the two-seater be abandoned in favor of a sports car. This past May I fulfilled my No. 1 bucket list item by taking a two-seater ride of four laps around Indy with the legend – Mario. I gotta say, it was insane!
Being a fan of Indy since the early ’60s, I have always known they go fast, but until one actually experiences it, one cannot grasp it. Intensely fast and quick! It seemed like we were in the short chutes for about one second! Sure, I could not see the shifts or foot controls, but then it’s paddle shifters, so that’s not such a big deal. One probably can’t see much foot action in a sports car, either. One is not there to actually watch how a driver shifts or works the pedals, but rather to feel the rush of coming off of Turn 4 and barreling down the front stretch. To say get rid of that is simply crazy. I’m considering taking a road course ride-along now to feel the Gs.
I say keep the two-seater, save up some money if you have to and get to the track! Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to a ride in the two-seater!
MP: One of the wildest things that our man Robin Miller experienced was being taken for a ride in CART’s two-seater back in the day by Mario Andretti. Compared to today’s two-seaters, these were real beasts. After Robin passed, Mario couldn’t help but recount that experience of Robin screaming in terror. And Miller raced midgets that were frightening, so it said a lot about how raw the experience of being on track as a passenger in an IndyCar happens to be.
In whatever form, get out there in the two-seater, or find your local SCCA chapter or track and do a high performance driving experience (HPDE) track day event in your road car, or go all the way and buy or rent a racecar and go through driver’s school. Find a local bullring and learn to drive a quarter midget. As you well know, Jerry, life isn’t meant to be lived on the sidelines.