The RACER Mailbag, February 16

The RACER Mailbag, February 16

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, February 16

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Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s 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: OK Marshall, let me try to understand this. First IndyCar had a delay with race times to accommodate NBC. Because of the delay, fans who travel (by air) had to wager that the race would be in the evening, but no, it’s a noon-er. So it cost us additional flight fees to have us meet the schedule and coordinate flights. (Sorry R.P., my private jet isn’t paid for yet). However, we would get to see qualifying on Sunday morning, but wait, another possible change because of the “Sebring amendments”?

They better keep Sunday as is, or add a Indy Lights race Sunday morning, or lose dedicated fans!

Skip Ranfone, Summerfield, FL

MARSHALL PRUETT: I asked the series if they had a final schedule I might see and was told there are still a few things being finalized at the moment. I doubt Indy Lights will get added – unless someone wants to pay for all the teams to do an extra race – so we’re stuck with an old fashioned “wait and see” on what the Texas schedule will offer.

I’m hoping IndyCar will use a giant Sharpie and write “DO NOT PUT FUTURE RACES ON SEBRING’S MID-MARCH WEEKEND” on the walls of the offices where such decisions get made. It has left absolutely no-one, from either paddock, happy or impressed.

Q: I am researching and learning more about fuel cells and tanks in motorsport. The IndyCar website describes the cell used in the IR18 as “rupture proof” but does not go into any detail. Do you know who supplies these fuel cells, and what kind of material they are made of? (I can see that a supplier may want to keep specifics under wraps, but I’m very curious).

Grant from Colorado

MP: Premier Fuel Systems out of England supplies Dallara with the DW12’s fuel bladders. The most common open-wheel fuel bladder construction method I know of uses woven Kevlar fabric as the strong and (nearly) impenetrable material that lives between a sandwich of inner and outer rubber coating. The more caustic the fuel, the more specialized rubber used on the interior to prevent erosion. And since the bladders live in a smallish void built into the back of an IndyCar tub – between the seatback in the cockpit and the rear firewall where the engine mates – the bladder needs to be flexible so it can be shaped and compressed to fit through one of the refueling ports and stuffed down into its compartment. One thing that’s always been a pain in the ass to install or remove? Fuel bladders…

Q: What’s up with IndyCar’s non-existent 2022 online store offerings? I’ve been checking every week for Sato’s new jersey (gotta support my hometown team), and nothing. I understand some drivers/sponsors got announced late, but come on… it’s two weeks to the first race! 

Esteban from Chicago

MP: Funny thing here is, I went to the IndyCar/IMS Shop site and yes, they only have seven driver jerseys available, and none of them feature Taku or David Malukas. So I went to the Dale Coyne Racing site, found their shop page, and here’s what it said:

“If you are looking for Alex Palou, Santino Ferrucci or Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan merchandise, be sure to check out…”

So, while there’s no question that IndyCar is short on driver merch leading into the new season, the one place where you’d think would be on top of things – DCR – is still trying to sell you stuff from drivers who left after 2020 and a co-entrant that departed after 2021… 

Santino’s done with IndyCar full-time, but his spirit lives on in merchandise form. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: I’m currently working through attending every race on the IndyCar schedule. I’ve been able to attend the 500 and last year I was able to go to Texas, the GMR GP, Gateway and Portland. This year I’m planning on going to Detroit and Iowa, and hopefully Nashville and Laguna Seca. My question is: what the current contract status for all the races on the calendar? I know the 500, and for that matter, the Indy GP aren’t going anywhere; St. Pete and Long Beach announced long-term extensions, and Gateway did when I was at the race, so they’re not in any danger, but how about the rest of the races?

Justin F., CT

MP: Might be easier to just mention the ones that I have on my mental list as question marks for long-term viability. You’ve been to Texas, so that’s good. There was a recent St. Pete council meeting where using some of the land where the race is held for other purposes was raised as something to consider after its current contract runs its course. Toronto needs to have a strong return this year to show it’s financially viable for its promotors to keep alive. Iowa, on its return, also needs to show its promoters that it deserves to stay as a staple on the calendar.

Nashville appeared to be a hit, but with any new street course, I’m always worried about whether it will survive to earn a second multi-year contract. And the last two races of the year at Portland and Laguna Seca give me acid reflux over the small crowds and appearance of limited income to warrant paying seven-figure sanction fees for years to come.

Q: Full disclosure: I am not a NASCAR fan at all. But I did turn on the “race” at the Coliseum just to see what it was like. Visually, it looked even stupider than I would have imagined. Does NASCAR or its fanbase really think this is a way to increase popularity? Thank goodness F1 and IndyCar fans aren’t subject to this same line of thinking with these gimmick “races” by our leadership. For those who enjoy actual racing, the Rolex 24 At Daytona was fantastic

Josh Meier, Louisville, KY

MP: On a weekend where there were no major races, NASCAR stepped in and, at least based on the TV ratings, scored big. I did watch some of it, and yes, it was a typical bump-and-run short track event where clean passing was in short supply. But I actually felt jealous for IndyCar; a decent crowd showed up, singers sang, and FOX had a quality audience that consumed the gimmick. I’d welcome that “problem” any day for IndyCar.

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 9 – ROAD AMERICA

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