The RACER Mailbag, July 13

The RACER Mailbag, July 13

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, July 13

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Q: The key to not having yellow flag lotteries is to equalize with open pits, which IndyCar seems to be so against, with safety being the excuse. Another thing it could easily implement is a yellow mode on cars like a pit speed limiter, so as soon as a yellow is thrown the drivers would have to go to a yellow mode (with a speed restriction) which will enable race control to keep the pits open, or at least go the Virtual Safety Car route. They don’t seem to want to change any of these things to bring parity to racing, which just upsets me so much.

Another thing that annoys me is that the back of the field is scrambling so much during the rolling start that they are not even in position before it goes green, forcing backmarkers to fall back right at the start. Why they can’t go to standing starts with road and street courses is beyond me.

This also necessitates drivers needing diverse skills to do standing and rolling starts (on ovals), and for a series that touts drivers needing diverse skills to deal with diverse set of tracks, they are very shy about changing things to make racing exciting.

Shyam Cherupalla

MP: Yes, the idea of VSCs has been floated many times; with a new electronic light panel and its software in play now, new options exist. Rolling starts work just fine; if the tailenders don’t want to pack up, they can suffer the consequences. The idea that only standing starts are capable of producing exciting racing is silly.

Q: I watched both the Mid-Ohio IndyCar race and the Road America NASCAR race last weekend, and was struck by a fundamental difference between the two classic road courses. Road America has generous paved runoff areas outside the racing line in many of the turns, while Mid-Ohio does not. In the race at Mid-Ohio the cars often put a tire or two off the track, kicking up plumes of dirt and in some cases sending the cars off course. At the Road America race, especially in Turns 1 and 5, there were expanded paved areas outside the turns to allow cars a second chance to gather themselves up and get back on course, even if it cost them a position or two.

I felt this made the Road America race much better from a fan’s perspective, as cars spent fewer laps under yellow flags because they didn’t get stuck in the gravel traps as much.

Why wouldn’t Mid-Ohio have extra, paved runoff areas outside the turns like Road America? Circuit of The Americas has a huge runoff area outside Turn 1 and it makes for great passing opportunities as cars funnel back onto the track. I think Mid-Ohio would benefit from more runoff areas outside their tight turns to keep the action moving, reduce the lack of visibility when plumes of dirt are kicked up and help reduce yellow flag laps. What is your opinion?

Kevin P., Los Angeles, CA

MP: I’m sure it would help, as you’ve outlined, but it would require vast sums of money because all of the roads and camping areas that surround Mid-Ohio would been to be moved back as well. The major issue is the entire facility is like a time capsule back to what it was like to go racing in the 1970s and ’80s. I’ve long referred to Mid-Ohio as the most period-correct track on the IndyCar (and IMSA, and NASCAR) calendar.

So before money is spent to push the corner runoffs back, the whole place needs a facelift. Don’t get me and tens of thousands of local fans who love the place wrong; been going there forever and it’s made awesome by the super friendly fans and campers, but compared to almost every other venue we go to, it’s starting to give sanctioning bodies a reason to ask if it’s up to par with the rest of the regular stops where modern looks and modern conveniences are the norm.

Think of it as the racetrack version of a classic rock station. Gavin Baker/Motorsport Images

Q: Every so often I enjoy watching old IndyCar races on YouTube. I’ve noticed that when watching races from the ’80s that they often refer to the series champ as the “national champion.” What’s the story here? That phrasing is never used today.

Although the races were all CART at this time, was there still some sort of USAC involvement? Was it a sponsorship thing? Or, were the television presenters just trying to use phrasing that the general public would understand?


MP: Just a change in phrasing (I can’t help but giggle and think of the FX series “Archer”). It’s a legacy from when regional and national championships were very much a thing in motor racing. Not to date myself, but when I worked on USF200 and Formula Atlantic teams in the late 1980s and early ’90s, we had just that — East and West championships — where separate title winners were crowned. You’d also have a cool annual coming together on the Atlantic side where the best from both series came together for a race weekend to see who was best, but the winner was not named as the national champ.

After CART was formed and USAC was dropped as the sanctioning body, yes, there was a brief period where USAC continued to hold IndyCar events in the (unsuccessful) hope of maintaining control, giving us a late ’70s forerunner to “The Split” that led to the formation of the IRL that competed against CART starting in 1996.

Q: My question is about IndyCar’s internet presence. When I type “F1” into a Google search, Google brings up a box showing the upcoming races, the results, recent news, and recent Twitter posts. This is similar to what happens when you Google everything from NASCAR to the NFL to even the Australian Football League.

For whatever reason, when I search “IndyCar” I don’t get the handy-dandy little box with the schedule and results. Do you suppose it would be possible for the powers that be to ask Google to add that feature, or figure out why it isn’t implemented? Everyone who Googles F1 instantly knows where and when the next race is. I, as a fan of IndyCar, have a difficult time sometimes keeping up with the schedule and trying to find it on IndyCar’s site.

James Roney

MP: Yet another great note and call to action from a fan, IndyCar. I’m positive someone from the series could reach out and do as you suggest, James.

MX-5 Cup | Round 14 – Road Atlanta | Livestream