Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to email@example.com. Due to the high volume of questions received, we can’t guarantee that every letter will be published, but we’ll answer as many as we can. Published questions may be edited for length and clarity. Questions received after 3pm ET each Monday will appear the following week.
Q: After reading about the $2,000 tickets for Thermal Club, what is the fee to host an IndyCar race? I’m just curious, because if the event at Thermal is a giant dumpster fire, maybe they could try racing around my neighborhood if I could scrounge up the money. Think of the track layout possibilities. They could run through the different streets. Maybe up and around the cul de sac. Yes, the manhole covers may be an issue, but if we played the cards right we may be able to find enough neighbors to empty their garages so each team could have its own personal garage. We can even throw in lunch as well. What says you? Are you in? Oh, and I won’t charge $2,000 for tickets.
MARSHALL PRUETT: All depends on the sanction fee, but if we start saving now, we can get a new race on the 2025 calendar. I’m all the way in. The I Left My Wallet at the Cul de Sac in El Segundo Grand Prix is officially a go.
Q: Is the McLaren relationship with Juncos going to come off? I would doubt Zak Brown has any interest in helping Canapino or Grosjean, if he gets the No. 77 seat.
MP: It was weird to see the news of the Ilott split with no mention of McLaren, but at the same time, the mess there isn’t of McLaren’s making, so if I’m Zak, I wouldn’t want to be associated with that nonsense. At least for how I understand the situation, it’s starting off in 2024 with the Juncos Hollinger team being a one-year placeholder for Arrow McLaren’s extra sponsor inventory.
So, one car, carrying sponsorship McLaren can’t fit on its three entries, but not exactly a “McLaren” entry where it controls all aspects of its composition. Assuming that’s accurate, it would mean one of the world’s most popular race car drivers in Grosjean would seemingly give JHR and McLaren a lot of eyeballs on that entry. Since that’s what sponsors usually want, there’s a lot of potential upside to the arrangement. That is, of course, if we assume the toxic culture that unwound things for Ilott isn’t awaiting his replacement.
Q: I am wondering if IndyCar will extend its season into October in the future, along with Pocono back on the schedule? I am from the Pocono area and enjoyed IndyCar at the track.
MP: Only if the NFL pushes the start of its season back to October. I’ve heard nothing about Pocono returning to the calendar.
Q: Is Takuma Sato done? No more IndyCar races? No 500 entry? Maybe he is trying to secure a seat, thereby explaining the lack of career celebration for this two-time 500 champion and all-round good guy? His 2024 performance would indicate it is bye-bye, but I for one would like to see some appreciation of this great driver in some form.
MP: Last I heard was Honda engine supply, even for a favored son like Taku, could be an issue. At the moment, I’m not overly encouraged for the Indy 500 two-timer being in next year’s field, if we limit his options to Honda-powered entries. But what if he wasn’t limited to using a Honda…
Hopefully Taku can find a home for the 500 next year. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images
Q: You mentioned after Carpenter’s hiring of Christian Rasmussen that Oliver Askew is still being considered for one other seat in IndyCar for 2024. Can you reveal that prospect?
MP: Not at the moment, Jim. I told Oliver to call the team owner, and he did, and responded by saying the owner didn’t respond. I haven’t followed up.
Q: Noticed that Firestone conducted a test at Milwaukee a couple weeks ago with Will Power (driving a hybrid) and Linus Lunqvist (driving a non-hybrid).
If IndyCar were going to be using hybrids in 2024, why would Firestone test a non-hybrid, which would weigh less and put different strains on the tires?
Does this indicate that Firestone is not 100% convinced that IndyCar will be running hybrids in 2024?
MP: No. Because hybrid cars aren’t readily available for running whenever it might be desired, and Firestone doesn’t own an IndyCar to use when it wants to test. Also, the weight of the 2024 car is approximately three percent higher than the 2023 car, so while that’s not an insignificant amount, it wouldn’t be a game-changer for Firestone in testing.
Q: I see Pietro Fittipaldi scored the third seat at RLL and Juri Vips is on retainer for maybe a fourth entry at some point at select races. Hmmm… let me crystal ball this. I see Graham Rahal, on his terms, climbing out of his race car for the last time at the end of next season, at which point Vips slides in and Graham does Indy only. Your take?
MP: That’s exactly what I expect to see happen — Vips becoming a full-time RLL driver in 2025 — but I wouldn’t limit his options to filling Graham’s seat. Unless Christian Lundgaard agrees to a contract extension, he’ll be a top free agent in 2024, and I’ve already had one long conversation with a team owner who, on their own, expressed serious interest in securing his services.
If Graham chooses to make 2024 a farewell tour, I’m not sure if he’ll look to make annual returns to Indy. I’d hope he would, but I could see his days becoming filled with business interests that would make training and ramping up for the month of May being more of a distraction than a welcome respite.
Q: Simple question: What makes a driver fast? Why are Juan Pablo Montoya or Jeff Gordon or Max Verstappen faster than other drivers? Why can’t another driver look at their throttle data and copy it?
MP: For the same reason you and I can watch hours of footage of Steph Curry’s shooting form and can’t replicate his ability to hit threes with machine-like consistency while 30-feet from the basket. Most of us can study and train like mad and mimic some of what the greats can do, but we aren’t all born with identical physical and mental capabilities.
Fast drivers: Hand-eye coordination is the first big attribute associated with driving prowess, and most sports in general. Rapid mental processing is another. Great feel — a network of physical inputs from one’s limbs and core and audio and ocular inputs — to read and assess the car’s state of stability and judge how much additional speed or load it can take without losing control is another. In the absence of great feel, great instincts — mostly of the reactive kind — and bravery will do. Situational awareness — unlike a one-on-one battle between a pitcher and a batter, fast driving usually involves the need to make speed with cars in your proximity and possibly limiting your ability to create maximum speed.
Adaptability is the last major attribute; since we don’t do single-lap events, speed is always a byproduct of adapting to changing track conditions, ambient conditions, tire grip, and fuel load. The car is never the same on two consecutive laps, so making driving adjustments or chassis adjustments is central to maintaining one’s speed.
Simple question with the opposite of a simple answer!
Q: I have seen this rumor posted in a couple of outlets, and I’m really hoping that it’s not true: Given that NASCAR said that its street race in Chicago was a success and they are going to race there next July, there has been a rumor floating around that NASCAR is going to go after the Long Beach Grand Prix once IndyCar’s contract expires. I can’t imagine that! Have you heard this?
Also, any update on how Stefan Wilson is doing? After what he went through this past May, I sure do hope that he gets another shot at the Indy 500 next year, and I know that many others feel the same way.
Scott Freeman, Bloomington, IN
MP: I’m told Stef’s on pace to get back into fast machinery near the end of December or in early January, and his team owner Don Cusick has been busy lining up their return at the Indy 500.
The LBGP has been rumored to be under attack and takeover by F1 and NASCAR for decades. I’m not saying it would never happen, but the event’s owners and administrators are IndyCar people to the core and that’s where my confidence is held in it continuing to serve as an annual celebration of open-wheel racing and sports cars in SoCal.
Talk of a Long Beach takeover is nothing new, but so far it has remained an IndyCar stronghold. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images
Q: Would IndyCar be best served replacing Max Papis as a steward to avoid the appearance of favoritism to his nephew now that Pietro Fittipaldi is full-time at RLL?
Gordon, Dallas, TX
MP: I doubt IndyCar would let Max rule on anything involving Pietro. But if the series is worried about appearances, it would indeed look to replace Max and Arie Luyendyk — who formerly advised Rinus VeeKay and his family — and start fresh next season.
Q: With the limited testing allowed, would you expect CGR to have Kyffin Simpson testing off-season in an older IndyCar?
MP: Not in an older IndyCar, but since his family has the financial means, Kyffin will be wearing himself out in Europe and possibly in Japan with an intensive testing program in Formula 2 and maybe Super Formula machinery to acquire all of the testing mileage IndyCar won’t allow rookies to gain at home.
Q: It seems most people are missing the point on the Thermal event. If you’re complaining about the price, the event wasn’t ever for you in the first place, and you weren’t going to go anyway. This is just another opportunity for whiner IndyCar fans to complain, as they love to do.
They don’t have grandstands for 15k people.
They don’t have restroooms for 15k people.
They don’t have parking for 15k people.
They can’t handle a normal event at this facility, and they don’t want to — this is a neighborhood with a racetrack inside of it.
The alternative would be to let no one in (like last year), but instead they have created an event that fits the capabilities of the facility, and is priced to attract the type of visitors that blend in with the neighborhood, for lack of a better way of putting it.
I’m not going, but I don’t begrudge those who do. Maybe it offers a chance for a well-heeled visitor to become a fan and decide to sponsor a team. I wish them success.
John, Central California
MP: I’m not sure folks are missing any points here, John. Most of the wealthy folks I know actively avoid wasting money; that’s part of how they retain wealth. Paying $2,000 to attend an “exclusive” IndyCar event might be of interest to some, and I do hope to hear about the track selling a bunch of its “VIP Experience” tickets.
The same wealthy folks who’ve paid millions of dollars to buy plots of land at the Thermal Club and build houses on that land were there in February for preseason testing, at a ticket price of zero dollars, and saw the IndyCar teams and its racing product. And had three days of opportunities to meet teams and express interest in buying into one or start their own team, or sponsor a team with their money or the money of whatever business(ses) they own or lead. To my knowledge, no buy-ins or sponsorship deals were struck. So, I hope IndyCar’s second appearance at Thermal will have a different outcome than the first, but let’s not forget how this experiment was tried in February and bore no fruit.
The same wealthy folks who might buy a $2,000 ticket for Thermal can spend $200 to see the same thing at a packed Long Beach where the spectacle — with an abundance of fans and the atmosphere of a big, celebratory event — would be every team’s first choice for an introductory affair in California to bring prospective owners/sponsors into their world. Doing so in relative anonymity in the Californian desert, with few fans and no “big event” feel, is a much harder sell. If you’re trying to get someone excited to invest, you take them to a place where the thing you’re selling is surrounded by excitement. I genuinely hope this event takes off, but let’s not position it as some sort of speed dating convention for wealthy racing fans to find their new partners.
Q: I’m trying to reconcile your love of F1 since the late 1970s (1960s for me) with your description of it as “some of the worst racing on the planet.” Decades of worldwide viewership seems to dispute this — viewers must be seeing something they like. I know I am. Did you notice the stands at COTA last weekend? That’s not a new sight. As far as on-track action, this year’s USGP evolved into the media’s protagonist (Lewis) getting within close striking distance of the media’s antagonist (Max) who just never seems to run out of talent, even with a hobbled car.
MP: My apologies, Jack. I often think I’ve said enough to explain my position on what I consider to be obvious, but sometimes I guess I need to say more. Most racing series that I love have gone through fallow periods where the product it put on track was garbage, but I haven’t abandoned those series.
Today’s F1 racing is some of the worst I’ve seen, as was last year’s. The rabid popularity for the sport of grand prix racing is amazing; every other series is jealous of its success. But we’ve also reached a point where the core product, the on-track action, is mostly terrible.
If we’re having to prop up Hamilton getting close to Verstappen at a race in Texas as a sign that F1 racing is great, we’ve lost the plot. I’m not looking at one event; I’m looking at the year(s) as a whole.
I liken it to the NBA decades ago when it went from massive popularity to dwindling attendance and ratings after some rule changes slashed scoring, and in turn, the fun plummeted as high-flying scores of 122-117 were replaced by snoozefests of 71-65. F1 has yet to see its popularity bubble burst, but it will happen if its newer fans — the Drive To Survive audience — grow bored of the one-sided dominance. For the rest of us who’ve been here for a long time, we’ll keep hoping for things to improve.
Q: The Thermal Club deal has got me wondering… I hope it works, but what did happen to championship racing in California? In the post-war era California was the hotbed of American motor racing, from Frank Kurtis and AJ Watson to Mickey Thompson and Dan Gurney. But now, Long Beach apart, tracks like Hanford, Ontario, Riverside and Ascot Park are now just long-lost names in history books while Fontana is due to be bulldozed into whatever.
Sonoma just didn’t work no matter what they tried, and just how sparse was the crowd at Laguna this year? When was the last time either MotoGP or World SuperBike raced there? Will the Thermal Club event feel like one of those old IRL races held in near-empty venues or like one held during the recent pandemic?
Does IndyCar throw a Hail Mary and take a page from the old American IndyCar Series playbook and host a race around the sweeps of Willow Springs? There would be a bigger crowd there than the one being allowed into that country club. The Bob Bondurant Memorial Grand Prix or the Ken Miles International Trophy, anyone? As an aside, with its 50th birthday looming large, if it doesn’t already then surely its long overdue that the Long Beach Grand Prix winner’s trophy was named after Daniel Sexton Gurney!
Peter Kerr, Hamilton, Scotland
MP: I wish your love for IndyCar’s history and desire to infuse the modern series’ activities with it was shared by its owners. Renaming the LBGP winner’s trophy after the Big Eagle would warm my heart. Seeing Dan’s wife Evi at the race in April was awesome; hearing about her need to ask and explain who she was before being allowed to enter Long Beach’s Dan Gurney Media Center was less than impressive.
The campaign for the Long Beach winner to be awarded the Dan Gurney Trophy starts here. Rainer Schlegelmilch/Motorsport Images
Q: It’s time for you to confess that you hired the Thermal Club to put on their race and then sell tickets just so the Mailbag would be full all winter.
MP: You’ve caught me, Robert! The only part of my master plan that failed is I tried to make the $1 Million Challenge all-star race available exclusively on Peacock so we could double the volume of bitching and moaning.
Q: Not to continue the pile-on, but for anyone who hasn’t seen the Thermal Club promotional video here is the link. This may be the most cringeworthy five-minute video in existence that doesn’t involve nudity. I’d pitch in to come up with $2,000 to have the guys at Mystery Science Theater overlay their commentary on this gem — lunch included.
More seriously, I have had trouble finding it, but after reading assurances that with the hybrid IndyCar engine package cars would have the ability to restart and/or limp out of harms way following a spin using the electric motor, I think I read here recently that this may not be the case? I really hope I’m wrong. Unduly extended yellows are good for nobody, and it would seem like a huge whiff if the opportunity to lessen the amount of time lost to stalled cars wasn’t addressed. Any info on this?
George, Albuquerque, NM
MP: When I was at the August hybrid test at Sebring, the cars were fired with external starters. At a more recent test, self-starting took place. I’ll have more details on this when I do my next deep dive.
Q: Have you heard more rumblings of DHL to Ganassi after their exit from Andretti?
MP: Yes, I believe RACER was the first to mention it a few months ago.
Q: Where is a good location to see latest on IndyCar team’s car and driver combinations for 2024? Neither RACER or IndyCar websites have a good breakdown of the teams and driver lineups for 2024. I was wondering if any of the Honda teams are considering switching to Chevy, or if Honda is planning to up its production? Currently, I see that there are 15 confirmed Honda car/driver lineups including two from Coyne. Honda would be up to 17 if Andretti and Rahal decide to run a fourth car. What is Honda’s max number of engine leases per race?
Will Oliver Askew find a ride in 2024 now that Carpenter has chosen another path?
Does Coyne, Foyt, and Juncos have timelines for number of cars they will run, along with driver announcements? Do you think Abel, Paretta or Cusick have plans to join IndyCar full time? If yes, wouldn’t they have to be under the Chevy umbrella due to engine lease numbers?
MP: I’m not aware of any engine manufacturer changes happening for 2024. I’m also not aware of any plans for either manufacturer to increase their respective engine pool sizes. Honda is contractually obligated to supply Andretti Global with four full-season engine leases, so if Andretti opts to run four, Honda’s on the hook for four. Ganassi’s late decision to run five is where the limits have been stretched; Honda wants to be at 15, but it wasn’t going to deny its reigning champions when Ganassi asked for another lease to accommodate Kyffin Simpson’s rookie campaign. Rahal has no inroads on a fourth engine; its best chances to get one, for select races, only, would be if Andretti stays at three.
Barring a move that I can’t foresee, Oliver Askew will not be driving an IndyCar next season.
Coyne, Foyt, and Juncos will be running the same two-car teams like they did in 2023. The only change could be if Penske-Foyt want to run a third car at some point to get the squad tuned and ready for 2025.
Abel and Cusick will not be going full-time in 2024; they are aligned with Chevy. As we’ve written a few times, Paretta has been mentioned as part of Andretti’s fourth entry co-ownership/entrant group, which is powered by Honda.
Q: In a recent article you reported that Graham Rahal was ironing out the final details of a new contract with RLL. Based on his overall performance the past couple of seasons, I’m curious to know if he looked elsewhere before staying with RLL. It seems to me that his equipment and race team have not matched his driving talent, and in many instances he wore his frustration on his sleeve. I wonder how successful he might have been if he was with Penske or Ganassi? I guess we’ll never know. What are your thoughts?
MP: He and I spoke about his inquiries outside of RLL, and Graham said there were discussions held with other teams, but to be honest, I don’t know if any of the better teams had a real interest, or openings to consider. The top choice would have been Ganassi, where he drove for two tumultuous seasons, and I don’t think either side was interested in a reunion. Penske had no openings, nor did Andretti, and he doesn’t fit McLaren’s needs, so in the end, the only destinations I know of would have been teams that are behind RLL.
He’s always had the talent to win a championship, so I’d imagine Graham would have at least one if he’d spent years in one of the Big 3 teams. What’s concerning is the gap that’s emerged between Rahal — the long-held team leader — and Christian Lundgaard, who finished eighth in the championship while Graham placed 15th. Rahal had more misfortune last season than Lundgaard, but that doesn’t erase the gap. Graham and his engineers found something good to close the season, so if they can build on that in 2024, RLL should have more than the Dane to deliver big results. But if that gap remains, there will be no reason for Graham to believe it will be bridged.
Some drivers struggle to fill the gap left by racing once the time comes to hang up their helmet, but it’s a safe bet that Graham Rahal will not have that problem. Gavin Baker/Motorsport Images
Q: I don’t usually watch the lower series, especially in sports cars, but I happened to stream the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race over Petit weekend because I wanted to see Wickens win the TCR championship, and I wasn’t disappointed there!
However the race ended in a crazy way in the GS class. The Rebel Rock team was the winner of the championship on-track, but two cars got penalized and two more took themselves off the track during a yellow flag, which gave the championship to the Turner BMW (who went from 16th to 11th after the checkered!). The penalties were one thing, but the other two cars seemed to deliberately stop just to change the championship outcome. One was the Turner BMW teammate, and the other was a Mercedes and they came into the pits instead of coming to the checkered under yellow.
Then, on the live coverage, the driver of the 27 car came over and gave the Rebel Rock driver the bird! Even the TV broadcast said it appeared to be obvious and deliberate manipulation. Yet it seemed to be OK with IMSA.
I checked the results now, almost two weeks later, and they still show as provisional. So maybe IMSA is going to do something? Seems like a long time, though. Maybe this is worth a story? Similar manipulation in NASCAR and F1 have resulted in massive penalties.
Steve, Indianapolis, IN
MP: Having been there to see the MPC race play out, I can confirm that the chatter in the media center afterwards was all centered on the alleged manipulations of the outcome. I also happened to be sitting across from the PR rep for the Rebel Rock team, and there was no question as to whether an old on-track dispute between Rebel Rock’s owner/driver and the Mercedes team was the root of pitting on the last lap to deny Rebel Rock the title.
Since I can’t speak to the intention of the Mercedes team, I can only share the strong impressions expressed regarding an alleged impropriety.
UPDATE: I just received the following from an IMSA spokesperson in response to my query:
Official results and point standings for IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta just went official. There were no changes from the provisional results.
Q: Which drivers are still looking at seats for 2024, and where do you realistically see them going… if anywhere?
MP: By the time you read this, Grosjean might be confirmed at Juncos Hollinger, so that would leave Callum Ilott (Coyne, Foyt), Conor Daly (not sure), Jack Harvey (Coyne, Foyt), Devlin DeFrancesco (Coyne, Foyt), Sting Ray Robb (Coyne, Foyt), Danial Frost (Coyne), Hunter McElrea (not sure), Enzo Fittipaldi (Coyne), Theo Pourchaire (Coyne, not sure), Matthew Brabham (not sure), and RC Enerson (not sure). Then we have Simon Pagenaud (not sure) to consider, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a couple of names.
Devlin, Sting Ray and Enzo are all said to have significant funding, so that would place them at the head of the queue.
Q: Usually I have a question, but this is just a mini rant of sorts:
As much as I didn’t like how the Juncos/Ilott relationship ultimately ended, I really feel for Ricardo Juncos. He plucked Callum Ilott from the F2 ranks and they built something special together. What’s more, Ricardo’s story is amazing and is very inspiring. But he was also unfairly centered in last season’s drama into a no-win scenario. People on the internet need to learn that what you say has an effect on people (myself included). The internet drama wasn’t the sole reason for their split, but it didn’t help by any means.
I sincerely hope this is something the team, Callum and many on the internet, can quickly put behind them. I welcome the new, passionate fans from abroad but let’s all learn from this. I also hope Callum gets a ride soon in an opportunity he deserves.
Rob, Rochester, NY
MP: When Ricardo called during the summer of 2021 to say he was bringing his team back to IndyCar with a new partner in Brad Hollinger, he sought input on drivers the new Juncos Hollinger Racing team might hire to lead the single-car outfit. There were the usual suspects to consider who were out of IndyCar and looking for a way back, but the Argentinian was clear with his criteria: He wanted someone fresh and new who could put JHR on the map.
Three drivers came to mind, and Ilott was at the top of my list by a mile. I didn’t know him, but the guy was insanely talented and in need of a break after Formula 1 seats failed to materialize. With an assist from RACER’s F1 reporter Chris Medland, who supplied Ilott’s mobile number, Juncos had his guy. Ricardo did give something significant to Callum with the opportunity in IndyCar, but Juncos got just as much, if not more from the deal, than Ilott, who took the team to heights it had never seen.
But let’s be clear: This failure was 100 percent centered on the social media blowups and the fractures that developed as a result of the incidents. Positioning Juncos as some sort of victim is a new one.
IndyCar team/driver partnerships that could have delivered more than they did, Part 73. Image by Penske Entertainment
Q: I remember scuttlebutt a few years ago about a Calgary race to replace Edmonton that sadly never panned out. This past year, the FIA Grade 2 Rocky Mountain Motorsports Race Circuit opened, located 30 minutes north of Calgary and two and a half hours south of Edmonton. If a return to multiple Canadian venues is a possibility, wouldn’t this be an ideal location to recapture those fans of Edmonton and Vancouver races past? How about a Canadian Triple Crown with it, Toronto and CGV or Mont Tremblant?
Ron, St. Catharines, Ontario
MP: I’d love to get back to making multiple IndyCar trips to Canada. I believe it was Arrow McLaren’s Ric Peterson who was trying to get the Calgary race going, but I haven’t heard anything about it or the one you mention at Rocky Mountain and an IndyCar race. If we’re going north more than once, let’s also take Indy NXT to Trois-Rivieres; that event was a blast.
Q: To expand on Dave Wells in the October 25 Mailbag, it made me wonder about reserving a spot in the Indy 500 for the fastest female racer. Do you know if such a thing has ever been seriously discussed? Eventually expanding that to two and then three could lead to confidence from families and backers to make the expensive, long-term investment required to make it to IndyCar.
Based on history, women drivers are plenty fast to make the field, so this wouldn’t be charity or a gimmick. Just a level of certainty to accelerate money moving in that direction. Same could be used for black racers.
Then eventually maybe we’d have the “10 more Simonas” legacy you mentioned, and 10 more Myles Rowes coming up the ladder series, and 10 black women IndyCar drivers for whom we don’t yet have a role model.
Or maybe there are big driver development initiatives in the works to complement the Race for Equality and Change? WIndycar? NXT REC?
MP: Assuming this is a serious submission, no, I’ve never heard of IndyCar contemplating guaranteed Indy 500 spots based on race, gender, nationality, political party, or religious ideology. That would be a great way to kill the series and race, for what it’s worth.
The women racers I worked with back in the day, and those I know who are active today, would bristle at the idea of a “women’s entry” at the Indy 500. Again, assuming this isn’t a joke, it’s the definition of a gimmick.
Q: I’m wondering whether anything has been heard in either F1 or IndyCar regarding Zane Maloney and Andretti?
He’s been linked to their Formula E program for a while now, and looks set to be released from the Red Bull program at the end of the year, and with Andretti looking to get into F1 from 2025 onwards, I’m curious to know if there’s anything linking the two parties together there? If not, is there anything being heard about a possible linkup from ’25 onwards in the States?
I’m likely adding two and two together and getting five, but it seems a logical move for both parties.
Tom, York, UK
CHRIS MEDLAND: I’ll admit I haven’t heard anything along those lines, although racing for Carlin will have given Maloney good contacts in the U.S. through Trevor Carlin and the team’s former IndyCar presence.
I’d be very surprised if there was anything in F1 terms, as Michael Andretti has already said the plan would be Colton Herta and an experienced F1 driver alongside him, but the F2 crop regularly interest IndyCar teams given the success many have had in transitioning, so it would make sense too.
From what I’ve heard there will be a big clear-out of the Red Bull Junior Program, and that could well lead to multiple drivers being on the market, so Maloney would face competition. After just one F2 season, I feel like it’s more likely that he’s going to be prioritizing another crack in Europe next year.
Q: Never been to an F1 event in person in my life. So am going to get my toe wet by attending the Thursday night FP1 and FP2 practice sessions that will go into wee Friday morning at the Las Vegas Grand Prix. I was able to buy a ticket for that Thursday nights practice session, plus a grandstand ticket for the Wednesday night opening ceremonies concerts, for a little over $400 all together after taxes and fees and ticket insurances, which are definitely in my budget range!
As lifelong racing fan in general, what are some “cheap” must-dos as a first time in person attendee to an F1 session to do within a two-day span? Also, will I get heckled by anybody if I wore any of my vintage t-shirts of my lifelong favorite race car driver ever, Jeff Gordon from NASCAR?
CM: I would certainly hope you wouldn’t get heckled, Kevin — retro gear is cool! And as much as negative incidents get highlighted among some fans, F1 races have huge crowds and the vast majority are brilliant.
Check if your tickets will get you access to a pit lane walk on Wednesday, when you can get close to the garages to see the teams building their cars. They tend to happen in the afternoon on the day before practice kicks off at some venues (other pit lane walks over the weekend tend to be for Paddock Club ticket holders).
If Vegas works like other events, you’ll be free to roam around the track during practice, so make sure to take in as many different vantage points as possible — there’s a good official app for moving around. Heavy braking zones are immense to watch F1 cars in, and anywhere on a street circuit that you can get close to an outside wall exiting a corner is also a highlight.
Before practice there should also be some driver or team appearances on a fan stage so you can hear from them yourself — although I’ll admit I can’t find a full schedule for Las Vegas yet to confirm timings on that front.
Maloney’s immediate priority will likely be to gain more experience in Europe than to pursue something with Andretti on this side of the pond. Sam Bagnall/Motorsport Images
Q: There was a report that last week about revamping F1’s sprint races/weekend in order to create more incentive for the drivers. One of the ideas was prize money for the drivers. I’m curious, from the teams’ perspective, has there been talk of a constructors’ championship for the sprint races with the prize being either additional constructors’ prize money and/or additional wind tunnel/CFD time?
CM: Not as far as I’m aware Andrew, but the teams already get additional money from the sprint events. Partly through F1’s revenues (the sport charges more for a sprint event) but also they have their budget caps increased to allow them to spend more as a result of having the extra wear and tear on cars and damage risk etc. So that’s where their negotiating has come into it whenever the sprint has been a topic.
Your question does highlight how there isn’t universal agreement yet on what the sprint could or should be and how best to structure it. Carlos Sainz recently said multiple drivers have flagged the idea of reverse grid races given the fact they don’t influence the grand prix itself, but teams are unlikely to go for that given the increased risk of incidents as faster cars try to fight through.
THE FINAL WORD
From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, November 5, 2014
Q: Hi Robin. Just a quick note to say thanks for a super article on Greg Moore. I have shared it with many friends who are also deeply touched. His name still lives on with the foundation we formed in his name to continue working with the many charities he worked with many deserving children and distressed families. Thanks again. Every day we miss him and I know you are aware of the special bond he and I had. He had a short but amazingly full life. We keep hearing about some of his many adventures off track and always have a laugh about his love of life and the fun he had. Thanks again for keeping his memory in front of so many.
Ric, Donna, James and Annie Moore
ROBIN MILLER: Thanks for your kind words Ric, nice to hear from you. Hinch also did a very nice tribute on RACER.com. [ED: Apologies for the wonky formatting in the older links – a legacy of content from the previous version of the site being imported to the new one a few years ago]
I always smile when I think about the first time I met Greg in Toronto after he’d smoked the Lights field: “Hi Greg, my name is Robin Miller and I write for the Indianapolis Star,” I said. He took a drink of water and returned the handshake: “I know who you are and I think you’re going to be writing about me for a long time.” I loved his attitude and as I got to know him, that sense of living in the moment. There’s nothing anyone can say to bring back his glowing light but please take some solace in the fact he was so good, so popular and such a great kid. His memory still resonates 15 years later and that tells me how special he was to so many people.