The RACER Mailbag, April 20

The RACER Mailbag, April 20


The RACER Mailbag, April 20

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Q: I’m a lifetime Indy 500 attender and have been to the Bommarito 500 at WWTR Raceway three times now. Looking to make my first visit to Road America in June with a few buddies. If we get GA tickets, any tips/recommendations on where to catch the action? I am sure Miller answered this question a few years back, but would appreciate your insights! Thank you.

Eric from St. Louis

MP: Fantastic choice, and Road America is the perfect example of why I make the same recommendation for all road courses: Bring a rolling cart or backpacks where you can strap a folding chair in place and spend the event touring the incredible vantage points inside and outside the facility.

Elkhart Lake is particularly special because there are tons of spots to view from, be it on small/free grandstands or from the hills or valleys in your own chairs. I could just say ‘everywhere,’ but honestly, walk the hill to the paddock, take a look around, and then pick a direction and wander in any direction and you’ll find fans, food, and amazing sights. And if you enjoy photography, it’s one of the best road courses in the country for finding and taking great shots with beautiful backgrounds.

Q: I’ll be passing through Indianapolis this summer and was thinking of stopping by the Dallara factory, but I see they’ve stopped doing tours for the public. Do you know if/when they might be opening that back up? Otherwise, aside from visiting the IMS Museum, is there anything else to see or do in the Indianapolis area that would be interesting for an IndyCar fan?


MP: Definitely worth calling and asking Dallara, and yes, plan on spending at least half a day at the museum. Well worth checking the schedule at IRP (or whatever it’s called these days) to get your short track fix, and it might also be worth ringing a few IndyCar teams to see if they’d welcome taking you on a tour. The bigger teams might say no, so don’t ignore some of the smaller outfits who could be open to the idea.

Q: I sure miss Sid Collins and crew from the ‘60s. I am 77, and attended the 500 22 times between ‘67 and 2000. I believe many ol’ timers would prefer announcers with midwestern roots to the main man now from across the pond. What say you?

Roy Parker, Auburn, AL

MP: Leigh Diffey, the announcer you’re referring to, came here from Australia, and having fallen in love with the country, became a naturalized citizen many years ago. He’s living the American Dream, but somehow his native accent is not as desirable to be heard over the Indy 500 broadcast? And with so many Brits and Aussies and Kiwis working in IndyCar since the 1960s, many of those races called by Collins featured pit crews or drivers whose speech sure as heck wasn’t midwestern in origin.

As for me, as a kid, my best friend was Amir Saberi, a first-generation American whose parents escaped Iran. Next to them on our block was a Russian family, and next to them was a first-generation family of Japanese and Chinese origin. Our neighbors to the right were from Germany. Most of the kids I grew up with either had an accent or accents were heard from their parents, so that’s my norm.

We actually write these captions in an Australian accent. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: Everybody likes to see IndyCar teaming up with the likes of IMSA and NASCAR on various race weekends throughout the season. Why doesn’t IndyCar team up with Formula 1 now that there’s soon going to be three American F1 weekends?

Liberty Media is already American-owned. IndyCar could race on the Saturday. The world already sees IndyCar as ‘Formula 1 Lite’ so it’s not like there’s that much pride to swallow. The cross-pollination could only lead to better things in the future for both!

P.S. Will you commentate on the 24 Hour of Le Mans broadcast again?

Brad from Hollywood

MP: Can’t say I agree with anything you’ve written here, Brad. What ‘the world’ thinks of IndyCar doesn’t matter for a series that doesn’t race throughout the world. Would the NFL agree to hold the Super Bowl on a Saturday ahead of the World Cup’s main event at the same venue on a Sunday because soccer is a bigger deal globally? Not a chance in hell. IndyCar is our biggest, oldest, and most meaningful open-wheel series. Why on earth would it position itself to be the lame opening act on home soil?

Calling the LM24 in 2017 was a thrill of a lifetime as SPEED/FOX Sports said farewell to the race. Since it’s been taken over by the horrendously bad Eurosport group, I can’t see a way or reason for me to do it again. Thanks for asking.

Q: A recent Mailbagger has asked wishfully about a Panoz ’07 Champ Car “clone” for 2025-ish. Which made me wonder…

Can’t we (me & R.P., after he hires me as “automobile stylishness & coolness executive”) just scale those’ 07 Panoz’s up by 15.279’r% (Roger, that’s a niner… see what I did there…) and make the new cars shaped like slightly bigger Panoz Champ Car for the upcoming 2025-ish chassis? Surely it’ll fit the new fancy electro-wizardry hybrid stuff inside, right? Engineers are smart enough to figure out how, anyway. Minor issue, surely.

The ‘90s and 2000s open-wheel cars were almost all amazing-looking. What happened to the higher front nose with a not-so-wide front wing that extends below the nose? F1 cars used it, Champ Car used it… And of course, it looks cool. The early DW12 had some anesthetic ‘peculiarities’. But they were still good enough cars to go fast and not crash. Bonus!

Was it a safety issue from the higher nose, and fear of another Zanardi crash situation involving a nose cone entering another car’s cockpit in a T-bone-type crash?
Or just evolution of the rules in the chase for downforce and lap time that caused front wings to grow to sometimes hideous proportions?

I do really like the new DW12 iteration. Looks sleek, looks fast. That’s all you really want from a race car. And speed, obviously. Why no more upturned noses? Curvy front wings? They looked cool – so it’s clearly worth tens of millions of dollars in development. Right?

Mike, still in Tampa

MP: Oh no, Mike. That’s $20 in the ‘front nose’ fine jar for you. Safety has been a reason cited for the general lowering of the high noses across open-wheel racing, but I don’t recall that being said for the DW12. I agree — the high noses do look pretty. It’s the one thing I’ve written about that I’d love to see changed with the new car when it arrives in 20??.