Q: Too bad about Baltimore, it looked like a good venue and it was on my list of races to see. I was final able to watch the ALMS race and it seems to me IndyCar should have also split the chicane on the start/restarts. Maybe a standing start? That was a good race to watch, but the best of the ALMS was when my three-and-a-half-year-old walked into the room, saw the race on TV and then proclaimed, "I only like to watch IndyCars."
Jamie A. Carr
RM: If IndyCar returned, the chicane wasn't going to and that track was well suited for a standing start. All three years featured good racing so it's definitely a loss.
Granted, the portion of the race where it was a wreck fest was not enjoyable, but overall, we loved it. We had already made plans to attend next year, but that obviously won't be the case now. The only race in the mid-Atlantic is Pocono, I'm guessing. I'll probably attend, but just really enjoyed the overall feel of the Baltimore weekend. Heck, I wore a Williams Grove T-shirt on race day and two people recognized it and gave props!
Q: I just read about the Baltimore Grand Prix being canceled for the foreseeable future, and am crushed. This year, three of my friends and I went down for the first time, and it was a blast! Two of the friends weren't even racing fans, but looked to be converts to IndyCar after seeing the action up close.
I don't want to say my faith in IndyCar is shaken, but this certainly has taken the wind out of my sails, with regards to enthusiasm.
Jesse, Hummelstown, Pa.
RM: Even though the crowd went down every year, it was still decent and I found the fans that showed up to be as knowledgeable as they were passionate. Thanks for introducing your pals to IndyCar.
Q: After reading RACER's article on the loss of the Baltimore GP, I see that Pocono is the only race remaining in the Eastern United States. How is IndyCar supposed to market its product to cities like NYC, Philly, Boston or D.C. when the nearest race is a time zone away? If they're not watching now, what's left to compel them?
RM: Well, I guess you hope they're engaged enough to watch (or DVR) in any time zone and maybe there's a shot at Providence hosting a race in the near future.
Q: I was disappointed to learn that the Indy Baltimore race will be no more. The obstacles and costs to pull-off a successful "street" race, anywhere must be astronomical. Other than the obvious disaster of the front straight "chicane" that destroyed so much equipment all weekend, what in your opinion are the underlying reasons for this venue being taken off the schedule for 2014?
Michael Baley, Mount Joe, Pa.
RM: Couldn't run on Labor Day weekend in 2014 and 2015 because of a Navy-Ohio State football game and a big convention. That was the preferred date and fans could actually plan on the same weekend every year so it's a big loss. Could it come back in 2016? I imagine if it found a big title sponsor but, out of sight, out of mind…and probably out of the rotation forever. Sadly, Baltimore joins San Jose, Las Vegas, Denver, Miami, Edmonton and Cleveland in road/street course scrap heap.
Q: Based on the Michael Waltrip Racing NASCAR fix at Richmond, what is the worst IndyCar fix that you have witnessed? Before the 1996 Indy 500 during a very private team meeting, I heard one new co-owner of a team who had multiple cars entered was discussing a plan to bring out a yellow by one of his backmarkers when the primary drivers made an early last pit. By causing a yellow while a very early last pit stop was made, they were figuring that would gain a significant advantage. I was appalled at this guy's plan and was glad that it never materialized. This was the same guy who had spent time in jail for insider trading. And I'm glad that he was not around Indy cars very long.
RM: To say a race has ever been fixed is impossible because of all the dynamics and cars. Clint Bowyer's intentional spin only brought out the caution and slowed Ryan Newman's apparent victory – which he then lost in the pits. Bryan Herta's “spin” at Sonoma in 2006 enabled teammate Marco Andretti to have enough fuel to finish but he still had to win the race. I know George Bignotti ran Johnny Parsons out of fuel on purpose in 1977 to try and help Gordon Johncock with a caution and Mario once asked if Michael “needed a yellow,” so this kind of gamesmanship isn't new. But Bowyer's move set off a chain reaction that decided a race and The Chase.
Q: I see in the last mailbag that someone wanted to know why fans like Will Power so here is my top 10 list for those who want to know: 10. He can beat Dario; 9. He's a likeable guy; 8. He's humble; 7. When we realized that Al Unser Jr wasn't going to return, we found Will; 6. Wives and daughters like him and that helps bring the family together on race day…at least in my case; 5. We like to explain to people outside of racing that his name really is WILL POWER; 4. He races for Team Penske; 3. He races aggressive; 2. He wins races; And the No.1 reason us fans like Will Power…he bribed us! Now where did I put those passes to the Penske paddock? Hey Will, a little help please.
RM: Power is usually worth the price of admission and he'll appreciate your sentiments.
Q: I was wanted your take on the apparent collapse of Andretti Autosport. I personally don't see a huge improvement in performance at Ganassi or Penske, but do see a huge loss of performance at Andretti. Qualify poorly, run poorly during the race. Why? Been an Andretti fan for 40 years and always will be. Spent five minutes talking with Mario at Pocono 25-30 years ago and it's still one of the top highlights of my existence.
Phil the Porsche Fan
RM: Good observation. It was apparent Andretti Autosport got the jump on everyone this season but Ganassi and Penske have certainly caught up, along with a few others. Not sure what they found (dampers seems to be the logical answer) but other than Ryan Hunter-Reay, they've been struggling lately.
Q: How odd that Andretti Autosport missed the deadline for ordering an engine for Kurt Busch at Fontana. Is there more to the story than missing a date?
The cancellation of Baltimore for 2014 and 2015 is so disappointing. Why would the series not want a successful venue? What a slap in the face. The 150,000 in attendance is a great turnout for the weekend. Why couldn't Baltimore be the final race?
Miles and the Hulman board are so wrong to end the series on Labor Day weekend. Of course I am selfish and want Fontana to continue to be the finale, so I can attend.
Do you think Ganassi will allow Kyle Larson to race in USAC in his spare time next year? How about in May at Indy? Kyle's signing for a full time ride in the Cup series actually made the local paper – a real article; not just couple of sentences.
Three weeks to the next race and I am climbing the walls!
RM: I don't think there was any money to run Busch and him making The Chase would have changed everything anyway. Baltimore didn't have close to 100,000 in three days this year, but not being able to run on Labor Day weekend because of conflicts KO'd it. Doubt if Chip lets Larson run but the kid wants to.