The RACER Mailbag, July 13

The RACER Mailbag, July 13

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, July 13

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Q: Watching Scott Dixon in the lead of the Indy 500 this year, two names were going through my head: Mario Andretti and Dale Earnhardt. Thinking of those two names, I had a feeling something was going to go wrong for Dixon just like Mario at Indy or Dale at Daytona, and then it happened. With all the championships and races they have won, Mario went one for 29 at Indy, Dale went one for 23 at the Daytona 500 and now Dixon is one for 20 at Indy. It seems to me that with Dixon, more people hold it against him that he has only won one 500 compared to Mario at Indy and Dale at Daytona. Do you get the same feeling?


MP: The “Why doesn’t Dixon have more Indy 500 wins” thing popped up rather heavily last year and was compounded this year when he was so clearly the class of the field. Beforehand, it wasn’t a regular topic of conversation.

It reminds me of all the insane criticism Steph Curry got after winning three NBA championships without being named the Final MVP. Like the three titles weren’t incredible enough on their own. Then he and my Warriors won their fourth championship, Steph was named MVP, and the critics have gone silent.

Not sure what one could find to criticize with Dixie after six titles and an Indy 500 victory to his credit (not to mention some stellar sports cars wins). If he retires with one and only one at Indy, it will be a shame in the same way it was for Mario and Dale, but those two are revered as two of the all-time greats. I can only hope the same reverie is given to Dixie.

Q: We always camp near the Keyhole for Mid-Ohio and this year’s race was really good. The race itself was entertaining but I was gutted for AMSP as we met with some of the team camping on Saturday night. There were several people there and it was great to hear the stories, but what surprised us most was that the teams are still experiencing part shortages. They said it was across the board, but companies like Dallara, Cosworth and Xtrac are still short on parts, which is stunning given we are in July!

They said one of the best people in the paddock had left Xtrac due to the continued parts issues. Cosworth, they said, apparently have always had long lead times and bad service, and they were not too kind to Dallara, either. They also said it was not a supply issue, just a lack of planning for parts that have been in use for years.

So the question is, how does the series look at sole suppliers when the suppliers can’t provide parts? You would think they would allow others to supply parts that the suppliers can’t keep up with. Are there plans for the series to allow others to make parts to ensure the teams have what they need?


MP: I think they’d look at them with compassion and understanding as supply chain issues continue to be a very real pain in the ass for every major series here. In a limited number of instances I’m aware of, the issue has been with limited machinery or staff to mass produce an item. Also in limited instances, I’ve heard of a supplier being overwhelmed with other contracts to satisfy, which have pushed some IndyCar items back on the to-do list.

Most of the issues I know about involve a lack of raw materials, so if Sole Supplier A is short on a metal it needs to machine, I can’t see how someone else would have an abundance of the material to solve to production problem. But if teams are unable to run because of a shortage and an outside vendor can somehow step in and resolve the issue, I can’t see IndyCar saying no.

Yeah, but what has Steph Curry ever done in an IndyCar? Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

Q: With a current 17-race schedule and the likelihood of losing Texas, will drop it to 16? I have come up with venues, some have been used before and some not. Permanent road courses: CMTP, Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, NOLA Motosports Park, Sebring. Ovals: Richmond, Kentucky, Milwaukee, Fontana, Michigan. The oval venues have a lot of potential if IndyCar can find a way to piggy-back with ARCA — they are racing at Michigan and Richmond to small crowds at standalone races. If IndyCar was included, it would help both series. I know IndyCar had a three-year deal with Rich-mond just before the COVID outbreak — I don’t understand why R.P. has not reached out to them. Or maybe he has.

A.E., Danville, IN

MP: I’d put my money on next year’s schedule looking an awful lot like this year’s calendar. R.P. said he wanted to keep Texas, so given his track record on getting what he wants, I’ll plan on covering the race next year. The interest shown by Richmond waned during COVID, so despite having a wedding planned, it never went beyond an engagement party.

Q: I went to Mid-Ohio for my first-ever Trans Am race and it was awesome. I went to the TA race and watched the TA2 race on the live stream. While watching the TA2 race there was a stack-up of cars on one of the restarts which wrecked a couple of cars. Two drivers were interviewed after getting out of their cars and they both seemed to blame the guy in front of them for not going on the green flag. My question is, what level of gamesmanship are officials generally able to tolerate on restarts?

Brandon Karsten

MP: I’ve never seen racing series take such things more seriously than they do today. In a general sense, the days of lagging back and then taking off to build a lead on the trailing driver(s) has been rooted out with start/restart zones and intense scrutiny on the leading drivers to ensure they aren’t cruising around to either gain an advantage or risk having the drivers behind stack up and run into each other.

Q: I may get roasted in the comments section, but I have to ask this question. Given that IndyCar is planning for a new chassis, is it possible it could use, for example, the 2022 Haas F1 design, and adapt it with simpler, cheaper suspension components and aerodynamic pieces?

It is a fairly safe design, as Mick Schumacher has demonstrated, and could be reinforced for oval use if tests show any deficiencies. Dallara already builds for Haas, so intellectual property could be protected. It is designed to accommodate a hybrid power train. I would think economies of scale would make the price reasonable. Are there any rules in F1 that would prevent Haas, or another constructor, from selling the design from a previous year? Obviously, Haas will be designing a new car for next year.

Bary Berger

MP: If anyone’s going to do the roasting around here it’s me, but you’re safe, because it’s a great question. If a team/company like Haas and its chassis builder were allowed to do so, a significant redesign would be required since F1 cars aren’t conceived or built to handle monster superspeedway crashes at 230mph or above.

We know an F1 team would bring great knowledge to chassis design/construction on the road racing side, but it’s the oval ignorance that would be the major concern — with Dallara as the obvious exception. The one thing F1 teams don’t know how to do is to mass produce a car at a comparatively low price point, so that, combined with the absence of oval safety knowledge, would have me feeling rather leery of such things.

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