Long one of his most popular features at SPEED, Robin Miller brings his questions from and answers to readers to RACER.com.
• If you have a question about open-wheel racing, send it to MillersMailbag@Racer.com
We can't guarantee your letter will be published, but Robin will always reply.
Q: I just read your article on the 2014 schedule and I seriously hope that the IndyCar Series does not do the IMS road course race. I never cared about tracks, and only about the cars, and since I love F1 and Indy equally, I always thought the road course was awesome until I got older and realized it's boring and slow. The way I see it, if you add the old tracks back, like Laguna Seca, Elkhart Lake, Cleveland, (the tracks I grew up watching in CART in the late '90s/early '00s), the fans will come back and be pleased, and clearly the Boston Consulting Group don't know anything about racing. Do you know if Mark Miles even listens or reads the fans suggestions on the mailbag or anywhere else? I know RB did, and that was awesome of him, but it seems like Miles doesn't care about our opinions.
Elmer Ardon, LBC
RM: I think Laguna and Elkhart have a shot at the 2015 schedule and we all want Cleveland back but it needs a title sponsor. Not sure if Mark reads the Mailbag, but I send him letters from it when pertinent and I've seen him talking to fans at St. Pete and Mid-Ohio so I think he's trying to listen.
Q: I just finished reading an article on another site which was referring to IndyCar testing the IMS “road course” in September with an eye to a spring road race there. I wondered if this was new news or the others are just picking up on one of your favorite bad ideas. There was a void in my racing news and I didn't know where to look for real answers. Then I came upon RACER.com and to my wandering eyes did appear a familiar face and column that will keep me in the loop with real racing news. I will sleep better tonight knowing I can get real racing news again.
RM: My first story for RACER.com was last week and it laid out a road race at IMS in May with a test next month, a doubleheader at St. Pete and somewhere between 20-21 races for 2014. Thanks for the kind words and support.
Q: So I read that IndyCar may run the road course at IMS at the beginning of May. Why? Why do they think this is a good move? I know they think this will be profitable but how?
I come to the Indy 500 every year because I schedule my vacation around it. I've done the same thing in the past to see the Michigan 500 and to go to Mid-Ohio. I attend St Pete every year because it's my home race. There is also a buzz about the town about it. It's a happening thing. I've felt that same buzz at Mid-Ohio, and Birmingham. My point is I don't see a lot of people taking vacation to come to this race, especially if they attend the Indy 500 as well. Some people may do both, but for me, and I'm single, it would be one or the other and why would you take the road course race over THE GREATEST SPECTACLE IN RACING?
You wouldn't. You may get a local crowd but good grief, the locals don't even come out for Pole Day anymore. What makes them think the locals will come out for this? To me it's like NASCAR running a race on the road course at Daytona. It's a bad idea. I know this group from Boston suggested it along with raising prices for 500 tickets, but if they suggested having a dance contest for qualifying would IndyCar do it?
Kris, Ocala, Fla.
RM: Your opinion is shared by 90 percent of the people who write me or who I encounter at a racetrack. It is a bad idea and I think this event will dilute the product. We fell for Indy because of speed and thrilling passes – not 40mph corners.
Q: I've just read your article about the schedule taking shape for 2014...and all I can think of is "yuck." What is wrong with this possible schedule: 1) Racing at the Indy road course is a godawful idea...why take such a magical place and run a crappy parade race in the infield? Not to mention...who has the money these days to attend two IndyCar races in the same month? 2) Ending the season on Labor Day weekend...just wonderful. That can give people more time to forget about the close, exciting racing IndyCar offers. 3) No Road America, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Phoenix, New Hampshire or Richmond. I swear with this series it's like moving two steps forward, and then taking one step back.
RM: You hit on what should be the biggest concern to the IMS folks: how many people can afford two races in one month? You're raising some of the Indy 500 ticket prices and also asking fans to support another event.
Q: Just read your article about the 2014 schedule, and all it sounds like it is the “Randy Plan,” so why did they fire him? I actually prefer to watch road courses to ovals, but watering down IMS is a big mistake. They really are not listening to what the fans want and have no vision for the future or growth.
Paul Hirsch, Erie, Pa.
RM: Yes, the double-headers were Randy Bernard's idea and they were a big hit in Toronto, Detroit wants them back and St. Pete has requested a double for its season opener. Houston likely is a wait-and-see until after its initial twin bill in October.
Q: I find the new schedule both encouraging and discouraging. The May road race is a joke. The marketing firm's recommendations of that and lights at IMS are so nonsensical I will not waste your time with something that we both agree is a joke. However consideration being made to add COTA to the schedule in the future is a great idea. I have been to two races at COTA and it is a world-class facility. I know it is in Texas, but the crowds at the facility for racing have been huge and the racing is excellent. I love IndyCar at TMS and do not want to see that race ever disappear off the schedule. Eddie Gossage has been great to IndyCar for a lot of years when no one else was interested in promoting its races. I do, however, believe that the crowds and facility will make the COTA IndyCar race fantastic. Definitely better than a street race in Houston or Detroit. The racing is great and the future does not look bad for IndyCar but moving into a more modern and well respected facility will do nothing but improve the younger and more international race fan base. COTA is a step in the right direction for IndyCar's future.
Dr. Stephen, Desoto, Texas
RM: I think Austin has a good shot at being on the 2015 IndyCar schedule and it is a phenomenal track. There won't be three races in Texas so I guess we'll see if Houston is a winner on its return. Working on a TV show idea with RACER for 2014 so stay tuned.