Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 length and clarity. Questions received after 3pm ET each Monday will appear the following week.
Q: I just got back from Long Beach and all I can say is wow! This was my first time attending and that is a race I have wanted to attend for a long time, so I had big expectations. All I can say is the weekend completely exceeded my expectations.
We got in on Friday and went straight to the track, and within five minutes of being there we had seen Rossi, Power, Sato, Rick Mears, Scott Pruett, and many more. We said hi to all of them. They all responded and some of them even stopped to say hello and ask how everything was going so far. We even saw you and tried to catch up and say hello and ask you a few questions, but we lost you in the crowd and by the time we saw you again you were too close to the hotel for us to catch up.
At the end of the day we ended up walking out with Ericsson talking like normal people, just like he was there to watch the race as well.
It was unreal to watch Seb on Saturday cut through traffic on his way to that historic win as well. I am so glad I saw that in person – to read what happened just doesn’t do it justice.
Before the race we were on our way over to Grandstand 29 and went over the walkway with Felipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor. They were amazing and answered all of our questions and joked with us about tacos and beer. Class acts. They saw us Sunday morning again and even recognized us and asked us how our tacos were. Sunday after everything was winding down we even walked out of the track with Palou. It was unreal – the defending champ walking out with the crowd and no-one was aware it was him. It was a great conversation and he has very high hopes and I would say a solid plan to defend his title.
Where is the fire and next-level drives we would see from Rossi before 2020? Does he not trust his car enough anymore? It seems he has lost a little fire and doesn’t drive as hard as he used to. Do you think he has made his mind up and is already checked out of Andretti and ready to move on? If that is the case, do you see him staying at a Honda team or starting completely fresh and going Chevy?
Tony, tiny town in northern Utah
MARSHALL PRUETT: I’m struggling to picture your ability to keep up with the fast and super-fit drivers but my big ass was too fast to catch… ;)
I can only speak for the worlds of IndyCar and sports cars where I’ve spent my life, but yes, the folks you mentioned — champions, legends – and regular crew members are some of the kindest and most approachable people I’ve met. There are a few jerks, as one would expect, but for the most part, we’re fortunate to have paddocks loaded with racers who are humble and engaging.
Rossi’s been let down by his team in every race this year, often while running in a strong position. As I wrote in a mid-March silly season piece, I won’t be surprised to see him at Arrow McLaren SP or Chip Ganassi Racing, and I know one reporter says he’s already signed with AMSP.
I’ve also said a few times since the end of the 2021 season that a change of scenery would do wonders for him if 2022 follows the same maddening trend, and so far, the old cartoon anvil refuses to leave his No. 27 Honda alone. The scuttle from the last races of 2021 was he told Andretti he was leaving, no matter what, after his contract was finished at the end of 2022. Given Michael Andretti’s line to me and others about ‘evaluating’ whether he should keep Rossi is not exactly the strongest endorsement I’ve heard.
I just want the guy to have a clean weekend where he visits the podium. You don’t go on a tear like he did through 2019 and then somehow forget how to drive.
My guess is that unless he goes on a rampage and wins a bunch of races and decides staying with Andretti is the best move, it might be time for a new relationship with another team where no baggage and no cartoon anvils are involved.
Q: I realize this topic was covered a few Mailbags ago, but with the month of May approaching, I am hopeful Doug Boles will consider intervening on race scanner programming at the largest spectator event in the world. Many dedicated IndyCar fans have spent a lot of money on their race day scanner setups.
I understand the pandemic has upended a lot of things, but at the very least, have an antenna set up where we can program our scanners over the air. Manually programming 33 cars, TV, radio and PA channels is time consuming and frustrating. And for the record, Racing Communications is not a suitable replacement for Racing Electronics. Their website is non-existent and they do not seem to offer any services to race fans whatsoever.
R.P. has made it a priority to improve the experience of IndyCar fans at IMS. Not having any OTA programming at the Indy 500 is a big step backwards. Doug, I am thrilled to be coming back home again. How about an OTA antenna near Gasoline Alley just like last year?
MP: Get to work, Boles!