The RACER Mailbag, May 4

The RACER Mailbag, May 4

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, May 4

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Q: Do you know what Greg Ray is up to nowadays? He was always fast in an Indy car, with lots of poles, more than a few wins and the 1999 championship. He is one of the many who came in, ran well and then just disappeared.

Jim in Kalamazoo

MP: Other than occasional interactions on Facebook, I haven’t seen my old Atlantic and IRL driver in many years. My old pal Michael Cannon who was a big part of the Genoa Racing team where I grew up and where Greg came to prominence on the CART ladder, mentioned being at the Texas IndyCar race a few years ago, popping into a gas station next to the track to grab something, and bumping into a thin, tanned guy with a big goatee who looked to him a bit like a Harley-Davidson enthusiast, and when the guy said, “Michael!”, it took him a few beats to recognize G. Ray. Cannon said they caught up a bit, but he was just taken aback by how the always-crisply-dressed Texan looked like an extra from Sons of Anarchy. I believe he’s still selling boats at the family’s business in Plano.

I’ve worked with a lot of drivers. Few were braver than G. Ray, and especially in qualifying at Indy. Breathtaking stuff. Won a championship, but as you mention, it’s often forgotten.

Q: I remember when Robert Wickens had his horrible crash at Pocono, the team said it will “retire” No. 6 so that it will be waiting for Robert’s return. Unfortunately we all know that this will never happen, but I found it nice that the team respected its promise and never raced No. 6 again (even after the buyout by McLaren). Until now. I’ve noticed that Montoya will race the No. 6 car at the 2022 Indy 500, and while I understand the team has simply moved on, it still kind of hurts to see.

Also, do you know if Wickens still has some ties to AMSP? I know he certainly did in 2019, maybe 2020 but now?

Szymon K

MP: The team was under a different ownership structure back in 2018, so that might be why the McLaren-controlled outfit has moved on in terms of saving the car number. Yes, Robby is at every IndyCar race with AMSP, barring the ones like last weekend where he was driving his Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai at Laguna Seca in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series. He provided coaching and performance insights to AMSP’s drivers while positioned next to the timing stands in his wheelchair.

The irony is that if Greg Ray had walked into the gas station wearing a balaclava and a helmet, Michael Cannon probably would have recognized him in two seconds. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: A quick question on Legends Day: Will it be as in the past, with some vintage Indy cars circling the track during the driver autograph session? I love seeing the old cars run and am bringing my grandson this year, so would love him to see the cool vintage cars run. If the vintage racers return, what is the schedule? How long do we have to see them run before hitting the Museum for a bit more nostalgia, and then a trip through the memorabilia swap meet?

Mark in Menomonee Falls

MP: My friend Mike Lashmett, who owns and runs the Vintage Indy Registry series that you’ve likely seen run during Legends Day in the past, had this to offer when I asked:

“Sadly, the answer is no. There is no vintage Indy car activity at all at IMS in May! In lieu of this, fans are most welcome to visit our offices and shop (DT4R/Vintage Indy) in Brownsburg. We have over 34 vintage Indy cars on hand and much memorabilia and art to view. Vintage Indy has partnered with SVRA at IMS June 16-19 and will be on the road course for two sessions on that Friday as well as dual sessions each day on Saturday and Sunday on the oval. Vintage Indy is located at 489 Southpoint Circle Suite 500 Brownsburg, IN 46112, ph 424-230-9155.”

THE FINAL WORD
From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, May 7, 2014

Q: Since it’s May, I think we should look back and think of some things that used to be a tradition but fell by the wayside, such as: Gypsy Mitch’s annual corn on the cob fest in May and the ice cold watermelon at the Hoosier Hundred. Mom Unser’s chili. The Last Row Party. Bars inside Gasoline Alley (aka: Jim Hurtubise’s garage). Uncle Bobby’s Valet Service (aka destroying rental cars and parking Roger Penske’s rental car in the swimming pool!) Foyt and his niblings making life hell for the English guys (aka: Furinners), usually the Team Lotus, Lola, McLaren, Brabham and Firestone crews, until he had them. “Training film” shown nightly inside the garages. Slamming a “knock-off hub” hammer against the side of a 200-gallon fuel tank while the newbies scraped the rust/grunge off of the insides. Scam phone calls to the pay phones (i.e.: in 1995, “Roger Penske, there’s a phone call for you from Dr. Jack Kevorkian holding in booth number three!”).

David Sutton

ROBIN MILLER: Well, it sounds like you were around for most of them and sadly, that kind of fun doesn’t seem to exist anymore. (How about Mario duct-taping Bobby Unser inside a phone booth?) There was talk of bringing the original Last Row Party out of mothballs but it never happened. And that classic page, compliments of the late Scott Roembke and Tim Cindric, said: “Dr. Jack Kevorkian please to go the Penske garage immediately,” after The Captain’s cars missed the show.

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