Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to email@example.com. 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: I was watching some YouTube videos showing the Indy 500 during the 1970s and wished to make a comment about Johnny Rutherford. This man is right up there with all the great legends of the Speedway, and during the filming of this documentary Johnny was featured as a main commentator, not only about his own 500 wins, but about the other drivers.
I noted that Johnny has always been most complimentary when talking about any of his competitors, and in my mind this man sticks out as one of the great ambassadors of the sport. I wish he would appear on more broadcasts, if he is willing and able.
As I sidenote, as an avid collector of IndyCar 1/18 diecasts, I inquired recently to Replicarz about a release of the 1969 Foyt Coyote Indy pole winner. I was informed that no diecasts for A.J. were in the works as he wanted too much money. Very disappointing. Megabucks times zero is still zero, right A.J.?
James Herbert Harrison
MARSHALL PRUETT: Lonestar JR is just a delight. I’m sure it would make plenty of IndyCar longstanding fans happy to hear him on the many hours of 500 coverage on Peacock. As for A.J., he’s a highly particular man who could buy Replicarz a thousand times over, so pocket change isn’t going to be a motivator. He’s spent most of his life accommodating the desires and needs of fans. I’m sure there comes a point where that loses its appeal.
Q: I had never heard of the Congressional Motorsports Caucus before. Interesting how bipartisan groups can actually come together when they want to. Contingents from NASCAR, IndyCar, SCCA, USAC and IMSA participated. This was the NHRA article and contingent. Sad to say that there was no mention of this meeting on the IndyCar site that I found. After investing in sending a contingent to Washington, it would seem to be a no-brainer to post an article. I think the teams should demand that the sanctioning body give back the money that got shifted to marketing and promotion since they missed this layup…
Don Hopings, Cathedral City, CA
MP: Time to warm up that typewriter, IndyCar.
Q: I have to admit that I enjoyed the first two episodes of the “100 Days to Indy” series more than I thought I would. (I’m a member of the non-target audience, white male over 50 or WMOF.) But one thing that came to mind that makes IndyCar unique is its diversity. It has the most diverse tracks, the most diverse crews, and the most diverse drivers of any major racing series. What other sport can boast of having men and women compete on an equal footing at the highest level?
I was there in 2005 when Danica Patrick led the Indy 500 and listened to the crowd go absolutely bonkers. It seems to me that a good storyline for the show, and indeed IndyCar itself, would be to emphasize how diverse the series is. Just a few topics could be Beth Paretta Autosport, the return of Katherine Legge, and some home background stories on two of the most popular drivers that happen to be from Brazil and are about to hang it up.
For those old guys that remember The Split like me, one of Tony George’s founding principles of the IRL was to use more American-born racing talent. I always found that offensive — why wouldn’t you want the best talent? A fundamental strength of IndyCar is that it has the most diverse drivers with the most diverse tracks in the world. And its marketing needs to make sure that everyone knows that.
Ed, Hickory Hills, IL
MP: The second episode was far more cohesive and on point. Viewing it through that new-and-younger audience lens, I did wonder why Colton Herta was portrayed as such a vanilla character; he’s a 23-year-old IndyCar driver who plays the drums in a punk band, which sure seems like something to share, but instead, he was depicted as a one-dimensional personality. That he and Pato O’Ward, the episode’s other star, were Indy Lights teammates, fought like hell, went down two different paths when their IndyCar team chose Herta over Pato and Pato was left out in the wilderness, was another significant point that seemed obvious to include, but maybe I’m wrong.
Kat’s turn in “100 Days” is on the way. You’ll also see Myles Rowe.
Q: As someone who drives past the site of the future Andretti HQ on a daily basis, I can’t help but notice there has been very little construction activity since last year, seemingly. This is just a shot in the dark with my question, but any insight on their construction situation?
Todd S., McCordsville, IN
MP: I’ve heard nothing from the team regarding a change in construction plans.
Q: I’d like to point something out regarding IndyCar’s marketing this season: Even ignoring “100 Days to Indy,” it’s demonstrably been stepped up. I see advertisements for the next race on the schedule regularly — very good ads, featuring the drivers and hyping up the track. Good enough to catch the eye of the modern potential audience? I can’t say that, I’m too far outside of it (I turn 40 in a few months), but they’re better than pretty much anything I’ve ever seen in my adult life as an IndyCar fan.
Now, as a major motorsports fan my data is a little skewed as algorithms tend to feed me racing ads whenever they can, but I used to see IndyCar ads once in a blue moon, and only as banner ads on websites. This year, if I load more than two videos on YouTube, I am 90% certain to see an IndyCar ad, and even on the local news seems to run one every ad break, at least on the local NBC affiliate — and again, that was nearly unheard of in years past. Even taking into account that my likelihood of seeing an IndyCar ad is higher due to algorithms, I’m seeing so many IndyCar ads this year that there’s zero chance they aren’t considerably more frequent in general.
So yes, IndyCar is definitely doing a lot more marketing this year. Let’s hope it works.
MP: Great to hear, and I’ve noticed similar things. IndyCar’s social media team is also delivering at a high level, but that’s not a new thing.