The RACER Mailbag, January 18
Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers may be despatched to firstname.lastname@example.org. As a result of excessive quantity of questions obtained, we will’t assure that each letter can be printed, however we’ll reply as many as we will. Revealed questions could also be edited for size and readability. Questions obtained after 3pm ET every Monday will seem the next week.
Q: I do know this isn’t a brand new concept however IndyCar and SuperFormula might look to align automobile specs with the assist of Honda and Dallara. This is able to probably carry Toyota to the IndyCar sequence and GM to Tremendous Formulation. It’d appeal to one other engine producer. It might scale back prices by way of tools. They’d maintain their very own separate championships and possibly have a collective low season championship or shoot-out.
This is able to be various years down the highway, however really feel it might have legs and be a sexy proposition for all involved.
MARSHALL PRUETT: Thanks, Oliver. To recap what I’ve written when the identical ‘just-copy-SuperFormula’ suggestion was made within the final Mailbag, and the one earlier than that: No, it’s a horrible concept.
IndyCar must be IndyCar, not a lame copy of any person else’s sequence. And it must provide you with higher and extra compelling causes for extra producers to hitch and extra groups, drivers, and sponsors to hitch within the coming years. Copying one other method is similar as giving up, and I’ll push again on any perception that claims giving up on having its personal id is what’s greatest for IndyCar.
Q: I don’t wish to be the harbinger of doom for IndyCar, however I wish to relate a small bit of information how a lot IndyCar has slipped from the U.S. sports activities scene. My spouse (a fan of each Jeopardy and IndyCar) talked about that on as we speak’s Jeopardy present, one of many questions associated to “the Borg Warner Trophy is awarded to the winner of this Memorial Day Occasion.”
Nobody acquired it.
To make issues worse, even the commentator on the Jeopardy Fan Membership web site needed to stick in a zinger, copied under from the web site:
“The truth that SPORTS TROPHIES $400 was a Triple Stumper (concerning the Borg-Warner Trophy and the Indianapolis 500) simply factors to the rising irrelevance of IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 within the American consciousness. And, no, IndyCar’s latest unique partnership with the Russian firm Motorsports Video games — on the expense of iRacing, to the intense anger of many within the auto racing group — just isn’t going to assist with IndyCar’s future relevance.“
John Becker, Downers Grove, IL
MP: Positive, nevertheless it’s been that method for at the very least 20 years, brother. “NASCAR” has been the typical individual’s default reply for the whole lot because it overtook CART/IRL/Champ Automotive many moons in the past, and if there’s been a latest change, it’s in seeing extra of us in America default to ‘F1’ as their most important level of reference for something associated to auto racing. I requested my spouse fairly a while in the past to keep away from telling folks what I do (except they ask) as a result of there’s solely so many occasions in life you may say “I work in IndyCar” or “I report on IndyCar” and have the individual stare again at me in a confused state like I misspoke, and say, “NASCAR?”
Q: A couple of observations from a 60-something race fan who lives for IndyCar and the five hundred annually, however has watched F1 for years as a result of Jim Clark and Dan Gurney had been early heroes.
1. Hooray for Andretti and Cadillac, and as Marshall stated in his commentary, to staid GM for taking an opportunity and becoming a member of the large leagues. I hope it really works out, however my oh my, the hate for People in F1 appears to stay robust because the reactions to the announcement appears principally adverse from present F1 groups. Clearly the Haas workforce is a U.S. participant, however thus far is about as profitable as Minardi was.
2. Ford, by way of Cosworth, dominated F1 for a very long time, so one would suppose F1 could be extra open to a U.S. producer being concerned, however possibly it’s simply the notion of Cadillac being so American. Perhaps if GM nonetheless had European manufacturers, like Opel of Vauxhall, it might enter utilizing that title to placate the European F1 institution. However, these manufacturers have sailed!
3. As identified in numerous RACER tales and columns it seems F1, IMSA, and NASCAR, and possibly electrical racing, are the dominant gamers attracting the most important automobile producers to spend money on them and assist the sequence. IndyCar is on the outs and unable to garner any consideration or traction with the large boys, now even infuriating its iRacing crowd. I believed Penske and crew had been going to have the ability to assist, however thus far, no.
All that stated, I admire that Penske purchased IMS (and made large investments) and the sequence, and I nonetheless hope for excellent issues. I like IndyCar racing because it’s shut, and I by no means know who can be quickest at any observe or who will win. However please discover a sequence sponsor who will pump cash into advertising and marketing IndyCar because the thrilling, aggressive sequence that it’s.
I do know others have stated related issues, however every week I really feel a bit extra determined about IndyCar. Now, I see Andretti and Cadillac (GM) transferring on to F1 with little question sufficient cash that mixed they might purchase the IndyCar sequence and enhance it in no matter method they see match.
My overarching query is, can IndyCar survive and not using a miracle of some kind?
Mark in Milwaukee
MP: It’s surviving and can proceed to outlive as auto producers and small enterprise house owners — the workforce house owners — discover worth in IndyCar, both from a revenue standpoint or a advertising and marketing and promotions standpoint.
When CART was a raging success, it had 4 or 5 producers concerned (and many large firms), but when we persist with the auto firms, they cherished the method, cherished the publicity, and spent zillions on promoting, shopping for and handing out free tickets, and so on. They had been the last word advertising and marketing and PR shops for CART; they helped make the nation conscious of the sequence and had been instrumental in creating its explosion in reputation. That is all well-known to older IndyCar followers, so I point out it for the straightforward level of illustration that with extra producers concerned, as we speak’s IndyCar sequence would reap related advantages.
Look, we’re by no means going again to the time the place tobacco, beer, and large field shops flooded CART and the nation with its IndyCar messaging, so if I’m taking a look at one of the best ways to make IndyCar much less of a best-kept-secret-in-racing state of affairs, I’m focusing most of my energies on arising with a brand new or revised engine method ASAP that makes producers wish to leap in identical to we’re seeing the brand new formulation do in F1 and IMSA GTP. No miracles wanted. Simply give simple causes for extra producers to hitch IndyCar.
Q: With F1 trying to introduce its new engine method in 2026, I believe IndyCar can now, after hybridizing the present method, announce the identical engine method as F1 can be utilizing for 2026, however to be used in 2027 or 2028. This might entice new OEMs to contemplate IndyCar. Honda would have that engine in some type on account of its involvement in F1, and GM might have an engine of that sort by 2028. Since it might be the identical engine method, this might entice different F1 producers to take part in IndyCar. This is able to virtually be a no brainer, however it might want IndyCar to have that imaginative and prescient and announce this as a method.
MP: Beginning to really feel like a damaged document right here, however no, IndyCar asserting it’s going to repeat F1’s (then-former) engine method isn’t the reply. Perhaps I’m shedding my thoughts, however I swear IndyCar is its personal sovereign sequence and has been for 100-plus years, and alongside the way in which, certain it’s had crappy formulation (the submit WWII ‘junk method’ is the primary to come back to thoughts), and it’s fractured and had two sequence with completely different formulation, and gone spec, and executed all types of issues which have ranged from wonderful to noticeably lame, however apart from within the first few years of the Indy 500 the place its method wasn’t full shaped as uniquely its personal, we’ve been our personal factor.
It’s additionally doable that I take extra delight in IndyCar being ours, and of our personal making, than others who don’t appear to care about such issues. However just like the let’s-just-copy-SuperFormula recommendations, if one of the best IndyCar can do is copy F1’s previous engine method, there’s no want for IndyCar.