Q: There seems to be troubled waters ahead for IndyCar over the next year and a half. With IZOD pulling out after this season as title sponsor, and GoDaddy leaving Andretti Autosport after this year, what is your gut telling you about the months and years ahead for Indycar? Do you see any bright spot other than Montoya coming back next season?
RM: I still see the most competitive series in North America that has challenges with sponsorship – tied directly to poor television ratings. But it could take a turn for the better after NASCAR joins NBC Sports.
Q: GoPro. Title sponsor. Spread the word so that somebody in IndyCar realizes that the commercial coverages alone would be worth more than any amount of money that GoPro could, or couldn't, bring for a title sponsorship package. My friends and girlfriend could care less about IndyCar, but every time one of them sees the GoPro commercial of the open-wheel car or GoPro footage of an IndyCar pass during a race they immediately start asking questions about racing and/or the series.
Austin, Columbus, Ohio
RM: It's a logical suggestion but I've got to believe NASCAR teams are all over GoPro and I thought I saw something on Travis Pastrana's Nationwide car. Of course it looks better from an open-wheel perspective than a tin-top, doesn't it?
Q: Is Eddie Gossage serious about his threat to not run IndyCar if they go to Austin? Why is he being so pigheaded? I would think both COTA and TMS would be more successful if they cooperate rather than compete with each other. The idea of a Texas Triple Crown, with a street race, road course and oval, is a great marketing opportunity. I would go to all three tracks if the races were spread out on the schedule enough. I went to TMS in June and I'm going to Houston this weekend so why not? I'm sure I'm not the only one, too.
Annie in Fort Worth
RM: There is concern over three Texas races trying to co-exist but I think it could work if they were properly spaced. Eddie has been an IndyCar loyalist since Day 1 and it's natural he wants the best chance to succeed. I do think he's serious and IndyCar doesn't need to lose any more ovals, but the crowds have dropped off sharply in the past couple years so maybe IndyCar sees TMS as expendable.
Q: First, very disappointed that Baltimore has fallen off the schedule. It was a favorite of my son and I. Any chance of it coming back? Second, what was the logic behind IndyCar mandating twin turbochargers for 2014? Seems like it might limit aero kit creativity. Third, what happened to the IndyCar video game that was mentioned during the Randy Bernard days. The Codemasters F1 game (same guys that I thought were doing an IndyCar game) made an F1 fan of my son. After going to the Baltimore race, my son couldn't wait to drive a DW12 down Pratt Street in the video game. Is it another great idea for building a new, young IndyCar following, that's now died on the vine?
Pete Arnold, MR
RM: Doubtful Baltimore will be back. Twin turbos for everyone shouldn't affect aero kits. Not sure about video games but if any reader can add any information it's much appreciated.
Q: How many years will it be before the IndyCar schedule is 17 road/street races and 1 oval?
RM: Hopefully never but that's why Iowa and Milwaukee have to remain fluid and Fontana and Pocono must draw enough people to keep going.
Q: I'm going to ask for the 10,000th time – so feel free to hit the delete button. Apparently, Sam Hornish doesn't have anything for next year in NASCAR and it doesn't sound promising, either. Would anyone consider him for an Indy 500 ride next year if nothing comes together for him in Cup? We know he wouldn't come back for anything other than the 500.
RM: I imagine Sam would consider a one-off at Indy if he's got nothing else but I would think his performance in Nationwide the past two years will get him something full time for 2014.
Q: I'm curious if you think the new United SportsCar Championship has a serious chance at becoming more popular than IndyCar in the near term? I'd say no way because of the multiple classes and the timed events, plus IndyCar still has the Indy 500 and some Andrettis and Rahals. But, maybe the France family gets Dale Jr. to run a Chevrolet prototype and all of a sudden sports car races start pulling a 1.0 rating?
RM: I think IndyCar should be very concerned about a united sports car series stealing some of its thunder, fans and sponsors. But there is a nice crossover between IndyCar and ALMS fans, so hopefully we'll see lots of double-headers in the years to come.
Q: Now I know this is the age-old question. But how has a major open-wheel racing series in the United States (IndyCar) failed so badly to attract car manufacturers? Every major manufacturer wants to be in America and wants to sell cars in America. F1 teams demand it. They have to have races in America. Yet IMS and IndyCar with the greatest race and racetrack at their disposal have failed so badly. Go to the manufacturers. Say, “Right, we have a 500-mile race that still gets decent ratings and 300,000 people turn up to watch.” If you give them somewhere to show off their skill, technology and expertise they will come.
Jed, South Australia
RM: The simple answer is that The Split and subsequent infighting and lack of leadership certainly didn't endear Detroit or manufacturers anywhere to open-wheel racing. If anything, it drove them away. Randy Bernard met with Ford, Dodge, Audi, Mercedes and Fiat but nobody wanted to pull the trigger. I'm sure Mark Miles and Derrick Walker will explore this territory as well, but right now there doesn't seem to be much interest. If IndyCar opens up the engine rules in 2015, maybe that draws some new players.
Q: This year we only have Honda and Chevy after Lotus was out due to poor engine reliability. Is there any chance of a new manufacturer coming into IndyCar in the near future? And are there European races like Britain and Germany added in the 2015 schedule?
RM: As I said above, nothing new to report in the immediate future. As for England and Germany, not likely since Miles is talking about January-February-October-November for foreign events and the weather isn't conducive at those places in that time frame.
Q: Any idea what contributed to Tracy Hines' brain fade at Eldora in the USAC 4-Crown? He was nipping that Turn 4 wall all night.
RM: You have to run the wall to be quick. Eldora has always been treacherous but it's even more so today with hardly any cushion. I wasn't there but I heard it bit Darin Clayton while he was leading as well. Hines is one of the best and it happens.
Q: Are you planning any sort of meet and greet with your readers in Houston for the Grand Prix? Would love to meet you and hear stories.
Bruce Jensen, longtime reader
RM: Thank you for the compliment. IndyCar usually promotes a little Q&A session in the fan village with myself, Townsend Bell and Kevin Lee, so it might happen Saturday. If not, just grab me in the pits.