The RACER Mailbag, December 29

The RACER Mailbag, December 29


The RACER Mailbag, December 29


Q: I’ve always thought it was cool that IndyCar describes the vehicles that are raced. I think from early in the 20th century until the mid-late ’90s, if you ask a kid to draw a race car, they would most likely draw something that resembled an IndyCar. That’s quite a history. It doesn’t need an acronym, it’s cool on its own.

DJ Odom, Anderson, IN

MP: Amen, DJ. Amen.

Q: If I remember correctly back in the ’80s, John Menard and his team of lawyers fought the IRS in regards to motorsports sponsorship being a legitimate deductible expense and won, opening the door for motorsports sponsorship as we know it today. Does this sound correct, and if so, shouldn’t John and his team be recognized for this accomplishment which today is so critical to motorsports?

Craig C

MP: It doesn’t ring a bell, but no, racing sponsorships being treated as deductible marketing expenses was around long before Mr. Menard ventured into that area.

Q: Marshall, in last week’s Mailbag it sounded like you are in favor of using a red flag at the end of races to avoid controversy or to create a more exciting finish for the fans. Back in the day, a red flag was only to be used in extreme conditions. And according to, a red flag “signals that the track is unsafe to proceed at any speed.”

In my 50 years of watching racing, I have seen the red flag used after many terrible crashes, such as the start of the 1973 Indy 500. Or the worst-ever multi-car crash at the 2011 IndyCar season finale in Las Vegas. What makes racing exciting is seeing the variables of speed, hard work, strategy, and driver skill come together for a team on the track. And one of those variables can be a late caution. So here is my question. If a late caution becomes a red flag, would the Pruett Racing Team be happy losing its 20-second lead after having a dominating car, then losing the race on a restart?

Rick Schneider, Charlotte

MP: Great question, and the answer is an obvious one. No leading team wants to give up a lead, but since the races have many teams, sponsors, and fans, the real question is about which picture matters — big or small? What’s in the best interest of the sport? Is my team more important than the sport? That would be a no.

I don’t have an interest in using a late red to avoid controversy. I’m interested in seeing the red if there’s time to complete the race in a competitive manner.

One simple red cloth sure can cause some arguments. Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images

Q: How can you tell which manufacturer is which in the IndyCar races? Cars all look the same.

Chris Fiegler, Latham, NY

MP: Out of curiosity, how did fans tell whether a Ford Cosworth, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes Ilmor or similar engine was in the back of 20-plus Reynards in the beloved CART IndyCar series from the 1990s, or what motor powered 20 Lolas or 30 Marchs in the 1980s? Stickers, just like we do today, with a Bowtie or Honda logo on the engine cover.

Q: I know there are already a lot of rules in IndyCar, but I’d like to add one more: “If any race strategist utters ‘Box, box, box’ over the radio, it’s an automatic five race suspension.”

Scott Heavin

MP: Would ‘Package, package, package’ maybe solve the problem?

Q: I live in the central Florida area and am a massive IndyCar fan, never missing a race (and work hard to get my friends interested too) but enjoy the yearly trips with friends for the Rolex 24 as well. I would love to get more involved if possible, and heard about some shortages teams are having with workers. I have a full-time job so wouldn’t be able to travel during the season; however I would love to at least help out with anything a small team would need for the Rolex as I live nearby. Even if it’s something as simple as helping stock snacks or something overnight would be cool. Any information would be greatly appreciated if you know of any teams looking for some help! I wish you and your wife the best!


MP: Best suggestion would be to reach out to some of the smaller teams via their social media channels, Trevor, with Facebook as my first suggestion. Best of luck, and hope to see you there.

Q: Don Hoping’s letter about the 1981 500 reminded me of a good joke at the time: Who is the only man ever to lose two 500s in the one year? Answer: Mario Andretti. One nine months after it was over (court decision in Feb ’82), and the other before it began (Cogan crash on the pace lap in 1982).

The joke still makes me chuckle.


MP: Damn Coooooooooooooooooogan!

Q: Looking forward to 2022:
1. Who will win the NASCAR Cup Series Championship?
2. Who will win the FIA Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship?
3. Who will win the NTT IndyCar Series Championship?
4. Will Kimi Raikkonen compete in SRX?
5. What new track or race should race fans visit in 2022?

Kurt Perleberg


1. The year of Dave Marcis is almost upon us
2. Max Verstappen
3. Colton Herta
4. No, but he will be crowned the DGAF world champion.
5. Iowa Speedway for the IndyCar doubleheader. We really need that one to be sold out so there’s no doubt about its ongoing presence on the calendar.