The RACER Mailbag, April 27

The RACER Mailbag, April 27

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, April 27

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Q: I really enjoyed the IndyCar race at Long Beach and if Josef Newgarden was 23 years old today, he would be a leading candidate for a Formula 1 drive to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren. That being said, I’m not a fan of push-to-pass like I was five years ago. I think it’s being abused by the lead driver for defensive purposes and once you’re out of P2P and you’re behind the leader there’s no chance to pass. I believe it’s time for the series to have DRS and I’m quite sure that Roman Grosjean, who finished second at Long Beach, and other IndyCar drivers wishes the series would adopt DRS. Hopefully the rule makers will have this rule in the series in 2024.

Alistair, Branson, MO

MP: Can’t say I’ve heard the call for killing P2P in favor of DRS as a common request from drivers, but I hear what you’re saying. I’ve never been a fan of P2P or DRS, and especially DRS since it’s automated in the races. If drivers are going to have a tool that helps them pass, I’d rather have that tool be something they control and have to manage, so in that regard, P2P makes more sense to me than DRS.

Q: I was watching Indy 500 testing and one of the commentators said the race at Barber is sold out. Is this indeed a fact? I cannot remember a time, even during the heyday of CART, that a road course was sold out. Either way, aside from Texas, it appears the attendance at IndyCar races as been solid so far this season.

Brian, Joliet, IL

MP: According to the Barber site, Sunday’s race is indeed sold out while tickets are still available for Friday and Saturday. Only thing we don’t know is what that sales number is for Sunday. Is it 15,000? Is it 30,000? I hope it’s something big, because the track and the series deserve it.

Q: When I read the article about the new green Firestones, I just thought of Japanese Super Formula because its tire supplier Yokohama has also developed environmentally-friendly tires. Also, the series is inventing its own mobile app that lets you see live in-car cameras and telemetry, just like the IndyCar mobile app. Both are very similar and you aren’t surprised about it because one of companies involved has a business tie-up with NTT. I’d like to hear your thoughts about this app, which will be released next year.

Mitsuki Matsuura, Kanagawa, Japan

MP: The app looks solid. I’ll be watching.

Q: Is Al Unser Jr. still involved in motorsports, either as a consultant, coach partner, etc.?

Werner, Cedar Grove, WI

MP: He’s been active in the Parella Motorsports Holdings F3/F4 racing world doing coaching with Future Star Racing team.

Al Jr’s still in the game. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: A lot of series (F1, DPi/Hypercars, GTs of all types) use the “swan neck” approach in attaching the rear wing to the gearbox. I think Honda used the swan neck design when it had its own aero package. When the common aero package was introduced, IndyCar used the more tried-and-true approach. Was their decision based on cost or was it based on minimizing variables in a new package?

Jonathan, Ventura, CA

MP: Simplicity was the driving force here, and since the solution would be universal, there was no desire to do something more complicated or ornate.

Q: First let me say that I sincerely hope that your wife’s health issues improve. I know that that must put an immeasurable stress on both of your lives.

Having said that, I was very disappointed by your response to Nick from Locust Grove, VA. He asked a perfectly reasonable question, which was, why do those who pay for the premium Peacock package still have to endure commercial breaks. Your answer was snarky and rude. And it answered a different question than he asked. Your answer was to the question, who has a more difficult life, you or I. With all due respect, whether or not your life is difficult (and I truly believe that it is) is irrelevant to his legitimate question. I think that you owe him an apology.

Jim Amerian, Santa Monica, CA

MP: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jim, and the kind words about my wife. And that’s exactly how I would have responded to Nick — thanks for sharing your thoughts — if a straight comment or opinion was submitted.
Best thing I can tell you is the Mailbag is no different than real life where questions get asked and the answers may or may not be exactly on the topic or what somebody wanted to hear. We do know that this weekly forum isn’t a place where everybody gets a trophy, right?

And while it’s good to know my life is irrelevant, my life experiences — both personal and professional — inform my views on how I see and respond to things. Just like your life experiences inform your views and responses. How wouldn’t they? The Mailbag is full of opinionated fans and an opinionated person answering the questions, but somehow, I should be a blank slate and remind myself that my life holds no meaning when answering submissions? Huh?

The commitment here is to be my authentic self. I can be really nice and can also be a real a**hole. I can be thoughtful and I can be snarky, rude, and sarcastic. If it wasn’t already apparent, one thing I’m not is a saint. Every week we get letters from passionate fans saying they loved/hated my response to whomever about whatever, I was right/wrong about something, etc., and that’s normal. It’s how this stuff works. However, the “responding to responses on how I responded” routine isn’t what the Mailbag is about, and that will change.

So, back to the original subject, yes, when I get a letter about all the ills of a $5 subscription, you bet, my life experiences will shape my response. FWIW, my life isn’t difficult. It’s actually rather amazing. I get to do the thing I love most for a living, and I have an amazing wife who is the center of my world. I’m the luckiest guy I know.

Q: Twenty-six years ago on May 12, 1996, Arie Luyendyk set the Indianapolis track record at 237.498mph. What would your experts guess how fast this car would go if taken out of museum and refurbished to racing condition and installed with the latest tires and dampers?

Dave Wells

MP: I asked the man himself, and here’s what Arie said: “Hard to tell, but I think the tires were better back then because of some chemicals that were allowed then that aren’t allowed now. I’d want to use the same dampers because they worked so well, and I’d guess we’d do the same speed as then.”

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