Q: My question is in regards to the driver's meetings. The last few years we've seen a lot of bizarre calls that confuse fans, both casual and die-hard alike. There seemed to be another one this past weekend in Baltimore with Dixon's car left parked somewhere on the track after his tangle with Power. Dixon says that IndyCar would bring cars back to the pits unless it was inside 10 laps remaining. My first reaction was that IndyCar was picking and choosing who or when to bring cars back, but that can't be right. I would very much doubt the current people in Race Control are trying to manipulate results. In order to clarify for the fans what was actually said in the meeting why not make a video or transcript available for everyone? Surely these meetings aren't so top secret we can't know what is going on. It would clarify why calls are being made and maybe prevent Race Control from being lambasted every week by commentators and fans.
Ryan, Calgary, Alberta
RM: I guess showing parts of the meeting on NBC's pre-race show when it was pertinent could be requested but, in Dixon's case, the safety team told Race Control the car was too badly damaged to be repaired and they would have had to tow it into the paddock – not the pits.
Q: If Ryan Hunter-Reay's car was having battery issues, why didn't the team just replace the battery? Sure he would have gone a few laps down, but he would have finished ahead of Scott Dixon.
RM: When the electronics went away, the car was stuck in gear. To reboot the system and be able to move the car you must have a charger to activate the software, which none of the safety cars do – but they will from now on.
Q: Doing my part to get a younger crowd interested in IndyCar, I sprung for tickets for my buddy's son and I to attend Sat and Sun. Simply put, it was worth every cent we spent. Paddock passes were awesome, seats were great and the last 10 laps were very intense. As for race track logistics, it was a snap! Parking less than a block from our seats? Seriously?! You know how many times I've carried coolers of beer over a mile just to get to our seats at IMS? Air conditioning at the Fun Zone w/ real bathrooms and running water? Are you kidding me? Kudos to Andretti and his production team, no stone was left unturned.
Regarding the race itself, sitting in turn one was the place to be. Watching Simon pull a 4-wheel brake lock to pass Marco was awesome, how he didn't lose it baffles me still. The intensity of the racing was conveyed every single lap and most especially the last 10. Those laps were worth waiting for given all the caution laps we had to sit through. All in all it was a great weekend. Patrick summed it up best when I asked him what he thought. "It was really cool, up close to the drivers and cars, and I really liked how it's under the radar and we are allowed access everywhere." He also really liked the racing and how much "action" was in turn 1. I like your new gig at RACER!
Chip Stetson, Wilmington, Del.
RM: Good job Chip, thanks for recruiting new fans, we need them. I told Kevin Healy of Andretti Promotions that I get lots of letters from fans raving about the access and accommodating conditions at Baltimore.
Q: It looks like Mark Miles is going to press forward with this idea of a race on the infield at IMS. If this does in fact happen, I hope the "serious improvements" they are considering for the course would involve some re-grading of the layout to include elevation changes, a true hairpin, and some off-camber corners. If they want a decent sized crowd, they should offer free tickets next year for General Admission areas and select grandstands to people who have already ponied up $$$ for the jacked up prices to next year's 500.
Mr. Piker in Naperville
RM: Derrick Walker is thinking about major changes and we should know more after today's test with Rahal and Briscoe. But I like your thinking about tickets.
Q: What a bizarre race at Baltimore? Poor Dixon. It's hard not to see him thinking that Power did it intentionally. I don't think he did, but there's only one person that knows for sure. On to the IMS issue. I agree with Mark Miles. It's not 1960 or even 1990. You can't keep doing the same thing and expecting the outcome to change. I e-mailed you about the following once before. Don't judge IMS based on the F1 experience. F1 may have a lot of drama and intrigue, but there wasn't much actual racing going on when they were running at Indianapolis. That isn't the fault of the track. It's just that F1 wasn't very racy back then. I think the current IndyCar format can make an exciting race on any racetrack you take it to. I say, give IMS road course a chance and see what happens.
RM: I told Miles I'd rail against it until it was finally put on the schedule and then I'd support it with stories and videos on RACER.com. I'd rather see it at the end of the season if it has to happen.
Q: I am one of those “few thousand people” per Mark Miles that attended Opening Day at Indianapolis this year. I schedule vacation to attend each day IMS is open in May. Why only a few thousand attend is probably because of poor management decisions about Opening Day. Limiting tires, engine miles, increased pricing, lack of spend, no marketing, and having rookie orientation right in the middle of the day has helped drive away the masses because no other entertainment has been added to make up for the loss of on-track activity. I am a hardcore fan with a bronze badge and I found the middle part of Opening Day this year very boring watching one car on the track running 200mph laps.
I have attended every Indy Car, NASCAR, F1, and MotoGP race and associated races that have been held at IMS since 1987. I will find it extremely difficult to support an IndyCar road race during the month of May. I will not take vacation time to watch IndyCars on the road course. If this IndyCar road race takes away time from the oval practice time on a weekend, then I will not support it at all. The Boston Consulting Group and Hulman management are taking a serious gamble with the IndyCar brand at Indianapolis. Since “it will be a Central Indiana event” per Mark Miles, I then feel a poorly attended race will damage the average fan's perception of Indy during May. I feel this would hurt the only remaining pillar of the Indy Car brand.
RM: I agree wholeheartedly, Jim. We all fell in love with Indy because of the speed, the danger, the thrill of watching the fastest race in the world. We don't want or need a glorified Formula Ford race. I agree with Mark Miles that doing the same thing since 1996 hasn't worked so try something different. I just don't agree with a road race in May.