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: Formula E at the Indy road course? Seems perfect. Andretti involvement and all. Is it too political?
MARSHALL PRUETT: Not sure about the political angle, but I’d say not holding a Formula E event at the Speedway would fall under the category of “practical” since it would be the most boring damn race in 100-plus years of competition at IMS. This would be a race nobody asked for, run in front of empty grandstands.
I can tell you, however, that if you’re a fan of sports car racing, be prepared to buy tickets for a 2h40m IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race on the IMS road course in September of 2023. It’s set to replace Mid-Ohio.
Q: After reading your article about Foyt parking the No. 11, I wondered if there was a reason they didn’t park one of the other cars in order to preserve No. 11’s superior position in points and potential for Leaders Circle money? Neither No. 14 nor No. 4 appear to be on a trajectory to finish 22nd or better in points. Couldn’t they switch drivers and sponsors around? I know No. 14 is probably sacred for Foyt. Why not put Kellett in No. 14 along with his K-Line sponsorship and put Kirkwood in No. 11? Is there a rule against mid-season switches like this?
Tom Hinshaw, Santa Barbara, CA
MP: If the drivers and sponsors are open to it, teams can move pieces around as desired, but in relation to the Leaders Circle, that’s a slippery slope. The LC is a merit-based competition to earn guaranteed prize money, so if you strip the merit part out of it, teams would spend each season moving at-risk drivers and sponsors to different entry numbers, because that’s exactly what would happen if such insanity were allowed.
Q: In the June 29 Mailbag, Josh Laycoch asks about 500 winners who never hit the wall at IMS, and specially mentions Ray Harroun, since he won the only 500 he participated in. After recently reading Mark Dill’s book I can say the Harroun did have an unfortunate tire failure at IMS during a race meet in May 1910, where the Marmon Wasp took a solid beating from the Turn 3 wall.
Gabe in Northwest Indiana
MP: Thanks, Gabe. Dill’s book is a delight.
Q: Menards always had colorful cars have been in both NASCAR and IndyCar for a long time. I don’t see any Menards sponsorship in IndyCar this year. Why the change? Do you think he will come back to IndyCar?
Jim, Eau Claire, WI
MP: Pagenaud’s No. 22 entry that made use of it is no longer being fielded, and it appears the three surviving entries are all booked with sponsorship. If there was a need, I’d hope John Menard would step back in on the IndyCar side.
Q: Why not run race trim (no HP boost ) for Indy 500 qualifying?
Gary, Auburn, CA
MP: Because it’s the one time of the year where going for maximum speed has been something to celebrate, so the idea of betraying that excitement — as we experienced this year — to go slower for no particular reason is probably why race boost isn’t used.
Q: At one time, IndyCar said that with increasing car counts, it may change the first round of road course qualifying from two sets of 12 cars to three sets of nine cars. With all the recent driver complaints regarding traffic issues during the qualifying sessions, is it time to do just that?
Mike, Holland, MI
MP: Yes indeed, that was from a story we did a little while back with Jay Frye, and so far, it hasn’t been needed this year but could stand revisiting next year if more full-time entries appear.
But here’s the problem: We could change road/street course knockout qualifying to having only two cars on track at the same time and I swear to God, we’d still have complaints about blocking or turbulence or dirt being kicked onto the track or some other grievance aired. I’m tired of the bitching and moaning, tired of the constant cries of “I WAS BLOCKED” over the radio and the non-stop messaging from pit lane to race control for those instances to be reviewed.
Kill the blocking penalties, make the #FrontNose and wing assemblies stronger, and let the nerfing and paybacks begin as drivers police each other on the spot.
Q: I see that Chase Elliot won the pole at the recent NASCAR Road America event with a 1m34s-plus time, which was shockingly 10 seconds faster than Alexander Rossi’s pole time at the Road America IndyCar event just two weeks ago.
Does RA have a shorter circuit for the stock cars, or I am I dreaming that they are suddenly so much better than the IndyCars on road circuits?
William “Colonel” Sanders, Overland Park, KS
MP: Well, my chicken-loving friend, it might be time to lay off the special sauce. The recent NASCAR pole was a 2m14.427s lap. Never hurts to consult Mr. Google.
Q: Not sure if you know who to send this to, but when watching in-car cameras on the IndyCar app, so many times they default to showing the nose camera for long periods of time. While this is a cool cam, the overhead cam where you can see the driver is the one we viewers want to see. It gives the best view possible. The nose cam misses so much and is not a great perspective.
Please, please change to the forward overhead cam for default!
MP: The people (OK, person) has spoken, IndyCar!
Q: Watching practice, qualifying, and the great race at Mid-Ohio, I noticed some markings on the track that seemed to have nothing to do with the racing. One was a mark that was somewhere between a V and a right angle. Others were just lines on the track that seemed to have nothing to do with any track markings. They were all white. Any idea what they were? I enjoy the Peacock broadcast, although I do wonder how some of the accidents are timed to be in the commercial breaks. They do a pretty good job of covering them after the fact.
MP: Without photos to go by, it’s hard to say, but most tracks like Mid-Ohio which stay extremely busy with driving schools will add colors or markers throughout the circuit that are used by those schools for whatever purposes or exercises they’ve devised.