Q: I recall years ago, Formula 1 wanted to do their race in June before or after the grand prix in Montreal (I don't recall which), and essentially someone at Indy shot down the proposal saying that it was impossible to convert the track from an oval to a road course in a few weeks time to accommodate them and that's why the USGP had a September date. So, now that IMS is contemplating doing the road course in the beginning of May, how are they able to convert it to the oval configuration in a couple of weeks to prepare for the 500?
Steve Stuber, Saint Louis, Mo.
RM: I'm told that it only takes a few days to convert so that won't be a concern.
Q: What is up with the management of IndyCar? 2014 is taking two steps back instead of one step forward. I read articles about how Randy Bernard talked with this guy or that track but…is it me or do the Hulmans want to distance themselves as much as possible from Randy or are they as inept as I thought?
After watching the race from Turn 1 at Baltimore (full lock-up by Pagenaud to pass Marco is not racing?) the action is not the problem. Nor the drivers. It's non-racers running a racing series. I know of a half-dozen small companies who'd love to get their name on an IndyCar but have been rebuffed by IndyCar management.
I put together a small effort in SCCA racing up here in the NW and have no shortage of "sponsors" because my team values them. These are people who have never been to a race and got hooked first time out. I know the difference between what I do and what IndyCar, but I hear nothing from them on supporting new teams or promotion, etc. If it wasn't for Andretti Sports Marketing, several races would be terrible for the fans. What is the first thing they teach you in management school? “Be proactive, not reactive.” You listening, Mark?
A.J. Stettner, Long Beach Wash.
RM: The Hulman/George family really doesn't have much say in how IndyCar or the Indy 500 runs nowadays. They're outnumbered on the board and they can vote but not dictate policy. I think Mark Miles is trying to learn the business and landscape while also looking for the right person to head up marketing (hopefully before 2014). It's distressing to hear about potential sponsors being turned away so please, please share those details with me in an e-mail to the mailbag (which I won't share with anyone except maybe Miles). Between trying to kick-start May, racing outside North America and hoping to change the culture, Miles is plenty active but there are only so many hours in a day.
Q: If new aero kits are still happening for the 500, might we also see new aero kits for the Indy road course race? That might actually cause a few people to care. Also, I read that next year's Honda engine will have a twin turbo. If this is the case, does that mean we can finally do away with the overhead air intake?
RM: I've been told we're going to like the aero kits and, yes, they will be for all races and the cars don't have to have that dreaded IRL intake.
Q: Mark Miles' comment about this not being 1960 is missing the obvious. Pre-1960 through 1995, people went to the Indy 500's opening day, practice and Pole Day because there was something new to see. New cars, engines, tires, drivers, concepts etc. were the norm and people clamored to see them. And the best part of Pole Day, where the bulk of the field would practice during the heat of the day, has been emasculated now that each car has 19 attempts or whatever it is. Single-car qualifying on an oval for an entire day is no spectacle.
Brad, Bloomington, Ind.
RM: In fairness to Mark, he said “since 1996” in our interview so he understands that the status quo isn't working (same decision made by Randy Bernard when he went to double-headers, double-file restarts, triple crown). There are some plans being discussed for May which might get people enthused again about time trials.
Q: Someone recently mentioned the fact that the DW12 having tougher chassis, wings, etc. resulted in more dive-bombing. I agree with that analysis and am thankful for the increased safety of the car, but I frankly would like to see the rear-wheel pods removed next year. Again, the problems is too much bumper-car driving. That's NASCAR, and in IndyCar it's wrong.
I don't want to see anyone injured in wheel-to-wheel launches, but if there's no incentive to curtail deliberately trading paint, bumper cars will continue. The perception is becoming that IndyCar drivers are nothing special or any more talented than the drivers in any other ol' series out there. My opinion is that rubbing fenders is only adding to this misperception. Some contact is unavoidable of course, but it should not be the intent or result of a car designed to foster bumper-car behavior by removing a negative consequence of doing so.
Bradee Beard, Rapid City, S.D.
RM: Rubbing fenders or trading chrome horns on a street race is a helluva lot different and safer than doing it on a superspeedway or any oval. The fact that this Dallara is stout and allows aggression has made the street shows entertaining in my mind.
Q: Just read Marshall's Pruett's story about Walker reviewing procedures after what happened in Baltimore. Double-file restarts aren't the problem! Drivers (Scott and Marco) jumping the start is the problem. The double file starts add much excitement to the races. You want to cut down on the carnage of Baltimore? Simple fix...no passing until after start/finish line! What say you?
Also what's up with Scott and his crying and bad-mouthing of Race Control? He would have received a huge fine had he been in the tin-top series! All this bitching and crying only makes the series look bad. Hope Derrick starts hammering down on this.
Lastly, I've not seen anyone give James Davison props for his drive at Mid-Ohio and especially Sonoma. Was top 8 in final stages of race before being wrecked. He has definitely shown he belongs in the series! Hope he gets a shot next year!
Juan, Phoenix, Ariz.
RM: Haven't seen Dixon jump any restarts and I understand his anger at Baltimore but I do like the fact drivers are allowed to speak their mind (his fine will be worked off as it should be) unlike the tin-toppers. I think he's wrong about Barfield but we can disagree on that. Davison showed nicely in his two starts and did kinda of get lost in the shuffle.