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 wasn't around a whole lot of media at work, so I get home, fire up Facebook and see all the posts (from RACER.com and other sources) and see the IMS road course race announcement. Then I see all the negative comments being left. With all due respect to the people that have followed and loved the sport for decades, shut up. I am the future of IndyCar fandom, not someone who will be pushing up Indiana daisies in 10 years. I watch and go to races, I try to get my friends to join me and watch and let them experience the awesome racing and paddock environment. I like seeing the series take some chances and (heaven forbid) try something NEW! If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, fine move on, but I applaud the effort.
Is the track boring? Yes. Will they make it better? Let's hope. Will I tune in next May? Hell yes, and my friends will be at my place, beers, brats and burgers in hand. Does it diminish the legacy and prestige and tradition on the Indianapolis 500? In this fan's mind (and remember, I'll still be a fan 30 years from now) no, not at all. If all the "fans" of IndyCar would simply focus on the positives and encourage others to become fans, the sport would grow as we all want it to. To those who long for the old days of USAC, they aren't coming back. Hell, for those who long for the days of CART circa 1991-1995 (and I was a fan THEN) those days aren't coming back either. The Split hurt, yes, and we are left with the carnage of that, but as fans we all need to help the series move forward by being true fans and not bitchin' about every little thing that does or doesn't happen.
Chris, Oak Forest, Ill.
RM: I'm guilty of being an old school naysayer who longs for the 1960s and '70s and hates the thought of anything in May but the Indy 500. But your letter illustrates what Mark Miles and Randy Bernard before him are faced with – trying some new things to get IndyCar a new audience. And there is constant bitching from competitors and older fans so I guess my stance is, I don't like it or think it's going to work but I'll support the May road race with stories and videos for RACER.com. If it works, I'll admit I was wrong and, if it flops, then hopefully it will be one and done. But I appreciate your youthful view of the sport we are both passionate about.
Q: Well, I guess you were wrong about my idea of road racing at Indy, and an Indy car road race itself. I told you years ago it would make the place more profitable but you poo-pooed it, saying, "That isn't going to happen." Let's see now, Grand-Am soon to be a new series combined, MotoGP, IROC (also known as NASCAR), Indy cars. Maybe F1 will come back? Probably not, but it could.
Bill Abbott, your friend in the woods of Minnesota
RM: It remains to be seen if the IndyCar road race will be profitable or if MotoGP or Grand-Am ever come close to breaking even for IMS. I was hoping the IndyCar road race in May didn't happen but it is and it's likely going to take a major title sponsor to make it anything but a financial loser.
Q: Don't know if you will recall but just about the time the new cars came out, I wrote you about using the road course at IMS for Indy cars. This got me to thinking, did they pay the consultants for that idea? We could let them have it for free! However, since I was correct in predicting the race, then maybe my prediction that IndyCar will sell to NASCAR in three years time will also be true. Just sayin'.
RM: Yes, they paid the Boston Consulting Group a pretty penny ($1.2 million) to suggest raising ticket prices, ending the season on Labor Day and staging an IndyCar race on the road course. Good call, not sure about your NASCAR prognostication but what do you think about the Colts and the points this Sunday?
Q: I was speaking with a friend over some beers last night and we thought about Indy cars in May. We really thought the Month of May needs a shot in the arm to get people excited again but are frowning on the IndyCars on the road course in May. So why not run the road course but let's run the USCC, MotoGP, Superbikes, NASCAR or anything other than IndyCars on the road course? That should appeal to a much broader fan base and still preserve the only IndyCar race in May as the “500”.
Why not expand on that idea and help out auto racing in the U.S. in general? Let's give the media and some fans what they want but NASCAR & IndyCar is too stubborn to let it happen. Why don't we run some double-headers at certain races with the Sprint Cup/IndyCar and run alternating Saturday night/Sunday events at a SELECT number of tracks? Then bring the IndyCars to the road course but in July at night and run it under the lights as a support race to the Brickyard, which also should be at night. Then we could just run the Cup guys in May on the road course (which would still suck as a race but at least it's something to try because up to this point we are right back where we started 3-10 years ago.)
After that we just gave up, went to White Castle because we just know it would never happen but it would be cool just to pitch the idea out there to the higher ups just to see the reaction.
Gary McDonald, Brownsburg, Ind.
RM: Clearly you had too much to drink Gary because NASCAR is NEVER going to run a double-header with Cup and IndyCar on the same track configuration. But think your July idea of an IndyCar race on the road course during the Brickyard 400 is more sensible and might even help the sagging attendance.
Q: Wow! Holy %*, Robin, you weren't kidding! TK is going to Ganassi! I am speechless. What wonderful news and a fabulous move for him. He deserves this ride and will do well for the Chipster. Attending testing this week in Fontana was a neat experience. I forgot how fast the track is! I loved sitting on the roof above the pits. Wish I could afford these seats for next month. I took one of my former students and he had a blast at his first oval. The Q&A session was really small scale (100 people) and all of us were thrilled to be in attendance. Ten drivers spoke with us on a very informal basis. Their interaction with each other, with Gillian, and with us was very interesting and fun. Can't wait for the race in three weeks.
Deborah, Los Angeles
RM: The reaction of the fans is overwhelming: they're thrilled T.K. can spend his last few years on a top team. It's also good for IndyCar. As for Fontana, Gillian Zucker and her staff have really opened their arms to IndyCar in terms of wanting to make the race a success and a staple on the schedule. Not many ISC tracks ever had that attitude and it's refreshing.