Q: That's good news about Hinch getting a solid offer and not having to bring sponsorship to get a ride. Any idea which team? Let's say Hinch is a pretty hot commodity in the IndyCar series now. What kind of money does a top guy like him get? I can't imagine it's anywhere in the $1 million range. What do you think a guy like Montoya is going to get? Also, regardless if you got scooped by the AP reporter, you should stand tall as integrity DOES matter.
RM: KV Racing would seem obvious since it made Kanaan an offer without bringing money but Foyt and Rahal/Lanigan/Letterman could be in the mix. IndyCar doesn't pay anything like it did in the CART era so let's say the big dogs like Dario and Dixie are likely at $2 million. I think if Hinch could get $500,000-$750,000 that would be big, especially when you consider how underpaid a Justin Wilson has always been.
As for the Kanaan story, I basically wrote that to just show the process of working a story and how sometimes keeping a secret can bite you. But I've been lucky in that regard for the most part.
Q: How do you see this title sponsor story playing out? NBC says Verizon and Firestone are in the running but Verizon were mad about Randy leaving. Do you think Mark Miles can get them to change their tune? And Firestone seems like a bigger risk to me. All I have to do is mention the Indy Lights series. How did they benefit from Firestone sponsoring that series outside of the usual prize money and team perks? I would really like to see what Verizon could do for the growth of the series. What do you see happening?
David Lawrence, Albany, Ga.
RM: I've said for almost a year that Verizon was serious until Randy's dismissal and Firestone was in the conversation as well, but don't think either are players anymore. Don't see any big lines to sponsor IndyCar for the kind of money IZOD spent and I doubt Miles wants to take a lowball offer just to have a title sponsor.
Q: I think IndyCar fans should take a step back and see the positives of what Mark Miles is trying to do in relation to the off-season international series he wants to start for 2015. Not only does it give us IndyCar fans more racing during the NFL season (which many of us want), it also gives Mark a chance to promote IndyCar racing on another network. This new series would not be part of the original NBC Sports Network contract so he could easily sell this to another major network with a larger audience. And once the NBC Sports contract is up, he could possibly merge the two series together on one network. More racing, more exposure, more opportunities for sponsorship. I think this is a brilliant idea!
Jerry Stell, Williamstown, N.J.
RM: Not sure NBC Sports Network would be out of the mix for international events and with NASCAR on the network by then it could eventually be a good place for IndyCar. But an ABC/ESPN package is obviously desirable as well under the right circumstances/dates/times. A live Thursday night race in January or February could work.
Q: So in the midst of a month of nothing, I hear rumblings of some changes in 2015 while at the same time losing Baltimore and probably Brazil. Not only are we not racing but where is the voice of this series? Who is pushing the throttle and engaging the fans even a little? This is what Randy did for us and the reason we had hope. Mark Miles is not visible like Randy was and this is a big void. So this week I hear that Milwaukee is probably coming back and we're adding a crap course at IMS to the schedule. We are losing one and probably TWO great markets. This does not make up for the losses.
Done ranting and wish Randy were back!
Mike Nicholas, Fishers, Ind.
RM: No arguing that Randy was the most fan-friendly CEO that IndyCar/CART/IRL/USAC has ever had but even he couldn't have saved Baltimore or Brazil (if it's lost). I think Miles is overwhelmed right now with IMS, IndyCar, the schedule, no title sponsor, running Hulman & Company and trying to find a marketing man. Be nice if Randy were still in charge of IndyCar and Mark ran everything else.
Q: I read your article about possible IndyCar venues for 2015. I noticed that Laguna Seca is a possibility. I love that place for its sightlines. I witnessed the best pass I ever saw at a race I attended back in 1996 when Alex Zanardi made an off-course pass, in the sand at the top of the Corkscrew on the last lap to win the race. I imagine if Laguna Seca is added to the schedule, Sonoma will be taken off. But I'm not sure if the problems at Sonoma are even more exaggerated at Laguna. You can't widen the track at either place and the sand is even more of a problem at Laguna Seca. Which track do you think, between Sonoma and Laguna gives the chance for the drivers to put on a better show?
Gerry Courtney, San Francisco
RM: Before this year I'd say neither offered the chance of a good race but Sonoma was pretty damn entertaining and I think with this car Laguna might be as well. Be nice to have both on the schedule but probably not practical.
Q: That's some good potential news about 2015. What's changed in regard to Laguna Seca? A couple of years ago the problem was that the track didn't have any passing areas. At least that's what we were told. At the time I thought that was nonsense but what do I know? I also thought there were noise abatement problems. What's changed?
RM: Hadn't heard about the noise but the only thing that's changed between the last Champ Car race and now is that this new Dallara races well everywhere. Sonoma does have a straightaway with a braking zone and that's something Laguna still needs. I recall a CART race where Max Papis won from the back because of lucky yellows and good pit work but didn't pass anybody on track to get to the front.