Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.
Questions for Robin can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the high volume of questions received, we can’t always guarantee that your letter will be printed, but Robin will get to as many as he can. Published questions have been edited for clarity. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of RACER or Honda/HPD.
Q: Thanks for the great look at the young challengers in IndyCar, the predictions, and your accurate referral to streaming coverage via Peacock. I was amazed at what I see as invalid criticism of IndyCar, Peacock, Penske, and NBC from some Mailbag writers last week. While traveling in an extremely rural area last week, I enjoyed what I felt was very good coverage of the Indy tests. The official IndyCar iOS app is improved, and the Peacock streaming was excellent and uninterrupted while I only had cell data available, far out of range of any WiFi.
With a leaderboard and stats on my phone from the IndyCar app and Peacock video on my tablet, I could really get pretty comprehensive coverage, despite the complications that social distancing brings to news gathering. What a drastic improvement this represents! I suggest that the naysayers and whiners connect up with each other, hire a shared personal assistant, and let that PA present them with a compilation of coverage for each event, served with a tray of Harvey Wallbanger cocktails and snacks. Am I in the minority?
Thanks for your efforts. After enjoying your changing of the guard piece, if you get a trifecta of a) at least 10 winners named; b) any 14 winners or more in the season; and c) the championship going to the Laguna Seca round or Herta or O’Ward crowned the champ, I think we Mailbag readers owe you a heck of a payout.
RM: Glad to hear you had a good experience with Peacock, I’ve heard everything from no replay of Thursday to the video breaking up to fans not sure what Peacock will offer during the week. Right now I think they’re just trying to slot IndyCar into their program format, and I do think there will be some good content as the season progresses.
Q: It seems obvious at least to me that practicing at Indy in April makes no sense when RP could expand the Month of May by a few days, sell tickets and improve the show. This would also help the Indianapolis economy. I would buy a seat. I know we can’t go back to the ‘good old days’, but we can improve the greatest spectacle in racing. Thoughts?
RM: IndyCar wanted to try a few changes to the Dallara for May and get feedback from the drivers, so it’s the perfect time. And nobody shows up for practice when it’s only a couple days in May, so adding days isn’t going to generate any extra interest or money. Those days are long gone, but we still have the best race in the world.
Q: Castroneves must attend an Indy 500 refresher course once again. Will he teach or be a student? Robin, can you please explain what goes on at a refresher class?
RM: He could be both, but IndyCar just likes the driver, even with Helio’s experience, to make some laps and get comfortable with his car and team. The test calls for a set number of laps at progressive speeds.
“Crap, I’ve completely blanked on which way Turn 3 goes.” Levitt/Lumen
Q: Very nice, the way you handled Don C (in last week’s Mailbag), especially after he beat up on our sport. You must have been in a good mood when you replied. Some of the things he mentioned were antiquated rules, ending races under yellow and strung-out restarts. He must not understand that an IndyCar is an open-wheel rocket and not a puffed-up bumper car that other series are using, so a strung-out restart doesn’t matter as much because of the speed the cars have to catch up during the race.
And yes, R.P. is working on every aspect of the racing. IndyCar should continue to end the race under yellow – when the miles are complete, it’s over. My opinion is that the IndyCar series doesn’t need gimmicks, hand-holding or participation trophies in the form of a green/white/checker to make it a good race. If he is a fan as stated, he should watch the races and be happy with any and all of them. Not all football games are good, but most of us still watch and support our team. Well, that’s one race fan’s opinion. What say you?
Jack, Ft Myers, FL
RM: I agree with Scott Dixon: Indy isn’t supposed to be easy and it doesn’t need push-to-pass – my God, look at the finishes of the past decade. And calling the race at its scheduled distance doesn’t bother me in the least, but I guess we’re in the minority of today’s fans. It’s the Indy 500 and don’t tell me how much better the TV ratings would be with green/white/checker, because that’s a load of crap.
Q: OK, you saw it! First minutes, first lap, tire in grass and crash. Remove that idiotic grass, (VeeKay) drops a tire below white line and completes his turn. But of course we want to keep grass so there is nowhere to go in the turns. Another senseless crash that could have been a great deal worse. When will someone take notice and do it for the safety of the drivers and to improve racing at the Speedway? Maybe drivers could try and lead the race again instead of running in second to win race. Tired of hearing about all the lead changes on the front stretch and back straight.
RM: Couldn’t agree more, Greg. Put in the old apron and let drivers save their butt or race side-by-side like Rick and Michael. Grass is absolutely ridiculous at an oval. Any oval.
Q: I have a deep love, respect and obsession IndyCar and the Indy 500, In fact, it’s better than Christmas and should be a national holiday. All that being said, here’s my complaint. It’s all about promotion. Whoever does the promotion for IndyCar sucks. I get they do the countdown the 500 on social media with vintage pictures and videos. But why don’t they take the time to promote other races of the year to get some buzz? Everyone knows the 500, and here they are counting down 100 days until the 105th running. That’s fine, but other races need promoting too.
Also I understand ovals get very little fan support, but maybe it takes longer than a two-three-year run at an oval track before they start seeing a turnaround. Word of mouth promotion can be a great thing if they use it right. Just give ovals a better chance. I miss Kansas Kentucky, Milwaukee, etc. Oh, and while I am on the bandwagon, those fans who think that Roger Penske can turn around IndyCar during a pandemic need to keep their mouths shut. Thanks for all you do.
RM: I would like to see a national TV commercial (similar to the one FOX and NASCAR run with that great Kyle Busch ending) to try and introduce America to IndyCar drivers. The latest video from a marketing firm in Chicago is on the right track, but it doesn’t identify any of the drivers and that’s the problem. Scott Dixon poses with six rings and there are a lot of drivers featured, but absolutely no names to put with the face. If nobody knows Dixon, how in the hell do we expect Colton, Pato and Rinus to connect with the general public? NBC does promote other races during the season, but I still think it’s up to IndyCar to take the lead. And I think we all know there wouldn’t be an IndyCar without The Captain.