Q: I’ve been an IndyCar fan since A.J. was tearing it up in a roadster. Question for you: what do you think is going to be the biggest positive event in IndyCar this year? Anything relative to IndyCar – drivers, facilities, venues, major announcements, etc. I’m a Minnesotan, that’s why I’m only asking for the positive!
Wally, Eden Prairie, MN
MP: Since 2021 was an insane year with amazing stories and dramas that unfolded, and since I don’t expect any of that to change this year, the only real difference that comes to mind that would be positive is our return to Iowa for a doubleheader. As Mailbag readers have noted, the prices are steeper than in the past, but I do hope IndyCar and its promoters can pack the stands. Fixing the Iowa Speedway problem with a big and positive return would make me smile.
Q: I think I’ve finally hit my limit and am ready to receive my AARP card. I’ve run out of patience for the gimmicks of managed competition, whether it be green/white checker, soft/medium/hard tires, or even hip-hop/rap concerts between “heats”… and now we’re talking about electric race cars. I realize that my “just qualify, run the damn race the published length, and if it finishes under a yellow, well, you should have been prepared for that” mentality is as outdated as rotary phones and Swanson TV dinners, and no amount of “get off my lawn you damn kids” fist-shaking is going to accomplish anything. Motor racing seems to have passed me by. So can you point me out to where I might find a comfortable cardigan to wear, or tell me where the nearest early-bird dinner buffet is?
Brad in Seattle
MP: Have you seen the show BattleBots on the Discovery Channel, Brad? Highly entertaining, no managed competition, and hey, it’s 250-pound fighting robots that race around the cage and chop, cut, flip, and slam into each other for our amusement. Some even shoot fire. So, maybe that’s the easiest way to make you like all-electric motorized competition, and from there, throwing 100 electric horsepower into an IndyCar with motor generator units won’t feel so strange.
All we need at that point is a robot that can rap, and my job is done here.
Q: I wanted to say I greatly appreciate you stepping in to keep the Mailbag going. I also appreciate that there are many new peeps to IndyCar and the letters are reflectively newbie-ish, at times. As someone who has been in racing for close to 55 years, I sometimes forget that we all have to learn the basics before we can understand the complexities and nuances of racing anything from shopping carts to IndyCars. That said, I am unclear on the damper rule for IC, even after reading the rules at 14.10. Is the fact they don’t mention that you have to use certain damper a license to use any damper? Also, is it budget, alone, that limits insane spending on custom/prototype shocks?
MP: Oh, trust me, insane spending takes place on custom shocks. The rules are fairly open here where teams can buy off-the-shelf dampers from a variety of vendors, or manufacture large portions of the dampers in-house, which has become a common practice. It’s all still mechanical and fluid-based stuff; no electronics allowed like the adaptive dampers found in many road cars these days.