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: How is IndyCar’s search for a new head of marketing going? Also, if anyone out there is looking for an IndyCar video game substitute, download the IndyCar 2023 mod available for “Automobilista 2” from Kaos modding group. It’s available at Race Department’s website.
Rob, Rochester, NY
MARSHALL PRUETT: Last I heard, which was around St. Pete, there were no prime candidates, but that was almost a month ago. I sent the series a note asking for an update, and while nothing was provided on the marketing VP search, we did get this promo:
“In the near-term, with the significant growth in investment across IndyCar marketing, we’ve prioritized bolstering the size and scale of our team and resources. This includes doubling our digital staff in the first quarter with several searches underway to fill new roles in our organization. And the addition of a national creative firm and new publicity agency to assist with efforts. Our leadership team across IndyCar Marketing is doing a great job leveraging a more robust staff and tool bag.”
Q: Now that I’ve had the chance to watch a replay of the 12 Hours of Sebring and then hearing and reading about the braking issues the Paul Miller Racing BMW had during the race, I was wondering about brake pad and rotor changes during a race. I reckon how often teams change brakes would depend on the type of car and how long the race is. Are teams changing brakes more or less frequently compared to what they were doing 10 or 20 years ago?
MP: Fewer changes these days, for sure. Typical deal where technology and products improve over time, but even so, it won’t guarantee no problems occur as PMR experienced.
Q: I’m sure RACER’s comments will be lit up again about the IndyCar sim fiasco, as they should.
I’m a 68-year-old guy who supports IndyCar and have since I was 10 years old. The fact that no viable IndyCar race sim exists today will not deter me from doing my 27th 500, third Nashville (they will get that one right eventually), and 14th Long Beach. But this is 2023 and us old dogs will pass on, needing to be replaced by the newer fans — kids who live and breathe video games.
My kids are huge race fans and I will partly credit that to a video game called “Grand Prix 4” — a 20-year-old game that we still run! It is unique in that it can be challenging like all of them, but even kids enjoy it as the rookie settings really work. Geoff Crammond wrote that one. I believe he is retired, but for a price The Captain may bring him back. The guy is a master and could make Indycar come to life on a PC or Xbox.
That game is so famous, hobbyist programmers worldwide still offer free tracks and cars for it. We run the 2022 Indy cars on GP4 now.
If heads haven’t rolled at Georgetown and 16th, they surely should. Just my two cents.
James Herbert Harrison
MP: Along with my teammates at whatever junior open-wheel teams I worked at in the early-to-mid 1990s, I spent hundreds of hours playing Crammond’s “Grand Prix,” “Grand Prix II,” etc. Every racing game that followed was influenced by Crammond, so while it would be great to have the man himself, there are plenty of sharp and proven game makers IndyCar can engage to bring a product to market.
Q: Any recommendations for someone attending the Texas IndyCar race for the first time on Sunday?
MP: Not sure where you’re going to be located, but if you can move around, get as close to Turn 1 and Turn 4 as possible because the speeds are insane. Same with the backstraight; if you can get near Turn 3, it’s also something wild to experience. Other than Indianapolis, Texas is the only oval on the calendar — and it’s been this way for decades — where the raw speed into, through, and out of the corners is truly jarring.
Outside of the track, there’s tons of standard fare for BBQ and beer. If you want to see IndyCar people — crew and maybe some drivers — visit the Buc-ee’s right across from the main TMS entrance and you’ll find folks stocking up on all manner of wacky food and drink at the unofficial convenience megastore of IndyCar.
Q: I don’t know where all this grumbling about the IndyCar points system came from. You know what’s silly? Thinking drivers should score points for running in the lead pack during the race, but dropping out before the finish. And why should we care what F1 used back in the last century?
Here’s an idea: Winner gets 100 points. Second through 33rd get zero points. The end.
I like that IndyCar awards points all the way through the field. If 20th place awards the same points as 11th, the back half of the field is just out there cruising around! Why would they risk the damage if the payout is the same? Weight the points heavier for finishing towards the pointy end of the field if need be, and maybe have a provision that the cars must be running at the finish to be awarded those points. (Or must be on the lead lap? Could get tricky at Iowa).
Would anyone say it wasn’t fair if the Astor Cup was awarded to the driver with the highest average finish over the season?
PS. John in Cincinnati is 100% right. The current ful- course yellows in North America, especially the wave-around procedure, is hurting racing. We’re artificially penalizing the cars that have better pace.
Gabe, Northwest Indiana
MP: It’s IndyCar. People will complain about anything.
Q: Does anyone know how to listen to the radio broadcast of an IndyCar race at the track in real time without a scanner? When I lived in Chicago and drove down to the 500, I’d take my scanner, headsets, sandwiches and who knows what else in my scanner bag into the race. Now that I’ve moved and fly into Indy, I just use my far more portable phone and AirPods, but even on the IndyCar app and the local radio stations stream, the radio broadcast is delayed a half lap or so after bouncing off various satellites, I’d assume.
Larry Miller, Key West, FL
MP: I’ve grown accustomed to having Peacock playing on my phone with AirPods or similar. What other solutions might we suggest? Maybe I’ll just post Leigh Diffey’s cell number so people can get the calls straight from the booth.