The RACER Mailbag, June 8

The RACER Mailbag, June 8

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, June 8

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Q: I feel that Felix Rosenqvist is a good fit for the third amigo role at AMSP. Obviously it’s still up in the air but, other than Rinus VeeKay, who do you think is in the conversation for the third AMSP seat?

How about this wild scenario: Daniel Ricciardo remains under contract with McLaren but is moved to IndyCar. He made a comment about enjoying watching IndyCar this off season, maybe he would be open to racing in the U.S. full-time. Just a thought!

Ian, Santa Barbara

MP: I’ve rooted for Felix long before he got to IndyCar and hollered at Chip to sign him, and it’s great to see him back in a groove that had him holding ninth in the standings leading into Detroit thanks to that sixth at the Indy GP and fourth at the 500. But, after a year and a half with AMSP, he’s yet to win and yet to podium while Pato’s won three times and delivered seven podiums.

With Rossi on the way in, AMSP has the potential for a really strong two-car team, but since they’re expanding to three, zero wins and zero podiums isn’t what they’re looking for. I’m not sure the window for Felix remains open to stay — as I mentioned on my podcast last week, I could easily see him slotting into McLaren’s new Formula E program — unless he starts winning now.

Alex Palou’s name was floated as an option for a minute, but he’s under contract at Ganassi for a few more years. I’ve mentioned VeeKay as a top candidate, and after Rinus, it would likely be someone outside of IndyCar. With Ricciardo earning something like $40 million a year, that’s nearly double AMSP’s rumored budget, so if he wants to earn the most drivers get in IndyCar — said to be about $3.5 million, which is what a lot of drivers say Dixon earns and Rossi will get at his new team — he’s welcome to take a giant paycut.

Q: Last week, you answered a question about F1 drivers concerned about safety at the 500. The writer of the question mentioned the risks of driving at Le Mans at night and in the rain as being risky. You said Le Mans in a GT or Prototype was safer than what an F1 or IndyCar driver would experience in a given race. I know you have depth of knowledge in sports cars, but why is that? Why are they safer?

Brian Henris, Fort Mill, SC

MP: It’s fully enclosed cars, to start, with the GT cars formed from metal frames and steel cages surrounding the drivers. The prototypes have massive carbon fiber cockpits with yards of crushable structures. It’s as simple as that, Brian!

Rosenqvist has plenty of talent; now he just needs the results. Motorsport Images

Q: Why doesn’t IndyCar offer a standalone streaming product? Yes, F1 TV Pro is produced by a much larger business than IndyCar, but fans don’t really need all the superfluous videos. Just show us the race feed, flag to flag, with some intelligent commentary and no ad breaks.

In other words, someone please take my money!

Dave Mason (from DC by way of New York, LA, and Michigan)

MP: I can only hope it’s something they want to do, but with the long-term contract held with NBC/Peacock, IndyCar can’t just decide to start a streaming service while in the middle of a business arrangement with a major broadcaster/streamer.

Q: The 2022 edition of the 500 was a fantastic watch, as per usual, from the Tower Terrace section! Congrats to Marcus for a smart drive and well-deserved win, although it came at the expense of my guy Dixon’s second victory.

I’d like to bring one item to the attention of Mr. Penske and Mr. Boles, to potentially add to their mile-long to-do list, and that is the mile-long lines at the concession stands.

From the time we arrived at our section (roughly 90 minutes before the green) to my last bathroom break with 40 laps to go, the concession lines in the concourse behind our seats were at least 60-70 people deep. At every single line. The folks in line near the end of the race probably missed it. This isn’t a new issue either. Our group distinctly remembers the cheeseburger incident of 2018 when I missed 90+ laps going to get lunch. We learned from that ordeal, and our foursome survived 2022 on the beer, peanuts and beef sticks we stuffed in our carry-in cooler. It’s not the workers’ fault, they are busting their butts trying to get people served as quickly as they can. I’m not sure if the solution is to let more independent vendors come in to break up the lines, or offering more money to attract labor to the current food stands, but I feel like the Speedway team needs to take a hard look at this.

Thanks in advance to Roger & Co, and we can’t wait for Road America!

Nick from Wisconsin

MP: Thanks for the details, Nick. I forwarded your note to RP. If people knew that stopping to get popcorn and a drink before the start of a movie would lead to missing half the movie, people would no longer go to see movies. Sounds like Doug and RP need to take this seriously because nobody wants to put in a big effort to pay for and attend Indy and then miss a big chunk of it waiting in lines.

Q: Back to your question from Chris in San Francisco on pole speed versus race speed — doesn’t the speed and time under yellow account for race speed also? And if so, were those years more dangerous and bigger crashes contribute to the race speed? Crashes they are having nowadays are so much safer and seem to be quite a bit easier to clean up.


MP: It does. Everything was more dangerous prior to whatever the latest and greatest car and track safety measures were implemented.

Q: I saw RE at Belle Isle this weekend providing OTA frequencies for the IMSA fans but not for IndyCar fans. Educate me here. Can you explain the contractual relationship between a radio vendor and IndyCar? Is any other company forbidden to provide OTA programming? Since RE is already on-site can it provide OTA programming just to accommodate the IndyCar fans, or is it forbidden to transmit when IndyCar is on track? How does it work?

Jeff, soggy Florida

MP: Hi Jeff, I don’t understand all of the details, but as I was told, RE opted to let its contract with IndyCar lapse due to the lack of income coming in, largely due to COVID and the total lack of crowds or reduced crowd sizes from 2020-21 that meant trackside rentals were way down.

The new vendor, whose name I don’t recall, isn’t offering the OTA programming, and while I know IndyCar has heard the complaints about this, I think their position is one of going with whatever their new partner does or does not want to offer.