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: Last week mention was made of IndyCar drivers not doing donuts anymore. I never missed an IndyCar race at Road America and I can’t ever recall the winner not putting some huge rubber down in Turn 5 for the crowd. I’m pretty sure every NASCAR winner has also put on a display there, with Ty Gibbs setting the standards for donuts and burnouts when he carried one halfway up the hill to Turn 6 after his Xfinity win this year. No shortage of donuts in Turn 5 at Road America — the Turn 5 run off area should probably be nicknamed “The Donut Shop!”
Craig, Slinger, WI (yes, that Slinger with the notorious short track)
MP: Well, since IndyCar hasn’t done it, I’m going to do it myself, Craig:
Rule 0.0.0.0, Post-Race Vehicular Celebrations: In accordance with international standards, the winner of every NTT IndyCar Series race must perform a minimum of five (5) rotations performed by intentionally rotating the rear tires at a speed that far exceeds the speed of the rear tires in order to produce copious volumes of smoke from the rear tires. A failure to do so in a manner that pleases the assembles crowd will result in a $25,000 fine and loss of 25 Drivers’ and Entrant points.
Q: As a long-time Swedish IndyCar fan, I’m thrilled that the late evenings and nights staying up watching IndyCar racing have been blessed with the presence of not one, but two and, should the stars align for 2023, three of my countrymen in the series.
From this side of the pond, it feels like IndyCar racing is on the up and up here as well, no doubt boosted by drivers with F1 pedigree (Magnussen, Alonso, Grosjean, Ericsson) and strong F2 drivers such as Lundgaard. While I do miss Rockingham and Lausitzring I garner no hope for the series racing in Europe an time soon (and it shouldn’t — get Mexico a race first!) but I’m keen to know how much the IndyCar management pays attention to Europe when planning its races, as to when the green flag should fly, and things like this? Is Europe part of the conversation at all, or is it just a happy little accident that most of the races start on a convenient time for most Europeans?
MP: Somewhere between almost none and not at all, John. I know the new IndyCar schedule has a lack of domestic conflicts with the 12 Hours of Sebring and internationally with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but beyond that, I’m unaware of any other efforts being made to plan a North American series’ calendar around favorable timing for viewing or a lack of clashes with international events.
Q: Do you have any insight into Scott Dixon’s alternate racing line at Laguna Seca? The NBC broadcast mentioned it a few times, with a great view of it from a following Colton Herta. Did Dixon have to drive differently due to worn tires? Or did he think he’d found a better racing line for the day?
Second, any idea why people still can’t say Alex Palou’s name correctly? Dixon called him “Paloo” in his postrace interview on NBC, and someone on Dixie’s radio called him “Palow” after the race. Seems especially egregious from two people from his own team. Any idea if it bothers Alex?
MP: From what I saw from that camera, Dixie’s car was an absolutely handful. I wouldn’t, for a moment, portray it as an alternate racing line; the car was an understeering mess.
Palou pronounces Dixon’s first name as “Skoht,” rather than “Skawtt” but I don’t perceive it as an intentional slight. Heck, my last name is either “Proo-it” or “Proo-et” most of the time, or “Pure-rett” for those who are really confused. I figure if it really mattered to Alex, he’d set Dixon and Mike Hull straight.
Q: How much does a promoter have to pay the NTT IndyCar Series just for them to show up and race? Does this sanctioning fee vary when it comes to the type of track? For example, road and street courses versus an oval? I’m also wondering whether or not Road to Indy races came as a package deal when promoters sign on to host an NTT IndyCar Series race?
MP: Hard to say, since every negotiation is different. It’s not like there’s a price menu with Oval, Road Course, and Street Course listed for track owners and promoters to pick from and then add some sides with Indy Lights, Stadium Super Trucks, and parachuting anthem singers. I know Monterey County pays $1.5 million for the privilege of hosting IndyCar, since that figure is made public. Also keep in mind the events that IndyCar/Penske promote or function as the entity renting the track, like Iowa, to put on a show of its own. I’m not trying to be vague — there’s just no single answer to any of it.