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: Mailbag readers: “We need a new car! The DW12 is ancient!”
Also Mailbag readers: “They should bring back dirt races.”
Greatest race fans in the world. Let’s just meet halfway and put them in Silver Crown cars at Burke Lakefront the week after Laguna Seca.
Ryan, Point Pleasant, NJ
MARSHALL PRUETT: You’re my new Director of Competition, Ryan.
Q: I am unclear concerning your comment about DRS being “automated.” As long as you are close enough to the car ahead, the driver chooses to open the wing (or not) and when to close it. Some years ago I remember Hamilton closing it late and had to do some sideways motoring at the next corner after the DRS zone. More recently, Gasly chose not to open the wing so that Verstappen could lap him and minimize the time lost to the next following car.
Don Hopings, Cathedral City, CA
MP: The easiest assumption to make when reading my replies is if it doesn’t make sense, just know I’m an idiot and anything that does actually make sense is a triumph.
Q: I wonder if the current economic challenges facing Hy-Vee will affect RLL sponsorship? Have you heard anything?
Pat Rizk, The Woodlands, TX
MP: I haven’t, and unless we’re talking about a small mom and pop company that’s somehow sponsoring a team, the annual expenditures on racing by a large company like Hy-Vee tend to be a tiny blip on their financial radar. Folks are also asking the same thing about Carvana with its losses making headlines this year. Simply put, if the five or six million a company spends each year on sponsoring an IndyCar is enough to sink its ship, there’s something seriously wrong with its structure.
That being said, yes, we have seen plenty of companies go from financial strength to weakness during a multi-year sponsorship deal and exit once the contract is completed. And in rare situations, we’ve seen the funding disappear during the contract and the logos come off the car, transporter, website, uniforms, etc., when something explodes inside the company. I can’t imagine anything like that is in play here.
Q: I was watching the Barber race on Peacock and like Long Beach, there were no side-by-side commercials. Out of curiosity, I switched to the cable broadcast and sure enough, side-by-side commercials! Why isn’t it the same on both?
Vincent Martinez, South Pasadena, CA
MP: That’s a great question, and like we once had with “Why aren’t we still racing in Milwaukee/Cleveland/Trenton/etc.,” I think, “Why isn’t Peacock ___________” has become its modern day replacement in the Mailbag. The simple answer is that I don’t know, and I fear I’ve reached my limit with the folks at NBC wanting to answer the weekly influx of Peacock-related questions. The last few have gotten no reply…
Q: I’m writing from the backstretch hillside at Barber Motorsports Park. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama just wrapped up, and watching Colton Herta slice and dice his way through the field today was more than worth the price of admission.
If I were an F1 fan tuning into the race today wondering who this Herta guy I keep hearing about is, I would’ve come away impressed. Sure he made a mistake at the end, but I think his raw speed makes him a threat regardless of which series he races in. If he ever gets a shot in F1, our brethren on the other side of the pond should watch out.
Also, if any IndyCar fan is reading this who has never been to Barber Motorsports Park, it’s more than worth your time to make the trip. There’s a reason they call this place the “Augusta of Motorsports.” I’ve been here about half a dozen times, and it never disappoints. Check it out!
MP: Completely agree on Herta, whom I’m told I “love” according to RACER’s amazing article commenters, and on Barber, which is manicured and cared for like no other track in the country. I’d also add Road America to the list of “must attend” tracks, but for a different reason. I’ve been to one golf/country club in my life and see how the Augusta parallel is perfect for Barber. But I’m also not a golf or country club type of guy. Road America is just as gorgeous, but minus the stuffiness. It’s beautifully maintained, but you aren’t afraid to run afoul of the endless array of folks who oversee the tightly-controlled facility. One feels like an outdoor museum to me, and the other is a delightful park where speed and food and fun happen naturally. Bottom line, both are great, and I’m always fond of being in Alabama which is where my wife was raised, but Road America feels like home to me in ways I’ve yet to find at Barber.
Q: From my armchair it looked like Grosjean’s second hit on Rahal was emotional and deliberate. What would the fan base repercussion be if a Yank tried something like that in Europe? Indy having a field of 33 is like a correction – thank goodness for teams like DRR and the opportunities of one-offs. I miss Santino Ferrucci and think that it absolutely stinks that he still does not have a full-time ride.
Now that that’s off my chest, I really enjoyed the Indy Lights race at Barber, especially the last lap duel. Very happy for Linus Lundquist’s win – I met him at St. Pete (he took time to talk and sign my hat, which was really cool!) and have been since looking forward to Barber and seeing how he would do. Is there going to be an Indy 500 parade this year? I signed up to be notified when tickets go on sale, but nothing and the website seems to never get updated.
Norm Bob, New Bloomfield, PA
MP: I sure hope Linus makes his way to IndyCar next year because the kid is something special, but doesn’t come from wealth and will need to win the title and use the advancement prize unless a team wants to step in and hire him directly.
Looking at the parade website, they say exactly when it’s happening but are vague on when you’ll be able to buy tickets.