The RACER Mailbag, December 29

The RACER Mailbag, December 29

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, December 29


Q: This is the time of the year I have sent this question to Mr. Miller in the past. How many cars for May, and how many full-timers for the season? My guess is 38 for the 500, and I counted 25 full-timers for the season.

Ron, Toronto

MP: I love your number for Indy, but as usual, it will be dictated by Chevy and Honda, not the interest of team owners. Plan on 35-36, and no more, with 35 as the number I expect to see as the final. Yeah, 25 full-timers, unless something happy comes through with a third Foyt entry.

Q: Hey Marshall, life-long hardcore IMSA & IndyCar fan here. Did you recently say that there was a team trying to source a DPi (perhaps the outgoing Mazda) to run in 2022? Obviously, that did not happen, but can you provide some insider info on what happened?

Via email

MP: There was a strong indicator that a European WEC LMP2 team wanted to run the car for next season to get a feel for IMSA’s top class and prepare for an LMDh program in 2023. I’m holding off on naming the team since I understand some of the plan — minus the Mazda part, obviously — might still be in the works behind the scenes.

Q: Thank you for the wonderful article celebrating the life of Honda’s T.E. McHale. This article was especially special to me. You see, I had a special connection to T.E. as he was my uncle.

The McHales were a very private family. When T.E’s wife Brenda died several years ago, only Aunt Brenda’s children knew she was ill and fighting for her life. The family was made aware of the situation when she only had weeks to live, and unfortunately by then she didn’t recognize anybody and the cancer had already taken her body. There were no funeral or services for her, only a small memorial held for her at the IndyCar event at Mid-Ohio. Uncle T.E. was instrumental in bringing IndyCar back to Mid-Ohio so they planted a tree with a plaque to honor my Aunt Brenda.

I am local to the Mid-Ohio facility and have had season camping passes for years. The highlight of every weekend is taking my family for a golf cart ride through the paddock and to the base of the media tower and visit with Aunt Brenda.

I am being told that there will a similar memorial for T.E. held during the IndyCar event at Mid-Ohio over the July 4th weekend next year, and a plaque for T.E. will be placed next to Brenda’s. I also understand that there will a similar memorial for the IndyCar opener in St. Petersburg.

T.E. McHale was a paddock treasure, and will be memorialized alongside his late wife Brenda at Mid-Ohio.

T.E. leaves behind one daughter and two sons he inherited when he married Brenda. His daughter is the one who called me to inform me that her dad had passed away. My family will spending Christmas evening with her and no doubt will be sharing stories remembering the good times with T.E. and Brenda. He also has a brother that lives In Cleveland that he was close to as well. His mom passed away earlier this year.

To my knowledge, Uncle T.E. told only one person of his battle with cancer and that was only two weeks ago. I won’t identify who that person was, but can tell you it was not any of his children.

I last saw Uncle T.E. back in October when drove back to Ohio from California for a visit. I was fortunate enough to have dinner with him and my two young sons during his stop in Ohio and what I would give anything to have that evening back, not knowing that would be the last time I would see him. During dinner he shared some of his plans for travel and his love for music. He told us that he was under no time constraints to make it back to California, and he was going to West Virginia and Indianapolis before returning home. I didn’t inquire as the agenda on his stops but learned later that the Indianapolis spot was for the services of Robin Miller. I have wondered if T.E. knew then of his upcoming battle?

Again, thank you for the wonderful article.

Tom Maiyer Jr.

MP: Kind of you to send this, Tom, and I am indeed sorry for your loss.

I made a mess of our kitchen when dear pal Steve Shunck called with the news on Monday, kicked a variety of things that went flying, including our cats’ water bowl. Dealt with a ton of losses this year, but none led me to an uncontrolled physical outburst like this one with T.E.

Just too damn fine of a person to be dealt this kind of swift end.

When Dario rang to help with the beautiful words he shared about T.E. in the memorial, he closed with saying the exact thing I was thinking about — we’re worried for our man Shunck. He’s the foundation so many of us are tied to in Indy, and so far this year, he’s lost three of his absolute best friends in Robin, Uncle Bobby, and now T.E.

I already know I’ll be getting a “Dammit, Marshall, why’d you have to go and do that” call from him, but if you know Steve, call, email, and then call and email a few more times in the weeks and months ahead because most of his favorite people — the ones that made his life a unique blend of hellish and fun — have left us. They guy spends most of his life doing things for other people and making our heroes feel like heroes. Shunck deserves the same treatment.