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.
Your questions for Robin should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you. And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, Robin will pass these on to Marshall Pruett and he will also answer here.
Q: Great news regarding the addition of Richmond Raceway; so excited for the return of IndyCar. You indicated in last week’s Mailbag that Dennis Bickmeier “will promote the hell out if it,” which I certainly hope will be the case. However, I hope the Friday/Saturday schedule will model that of Gateway (Pro 2000, Lights and IndyCar). Then there’s something with meat to promote!
I contemplated going to Pocono (again) this year, however, why would I drive four hours to tent camp on the infield of an oval for just IndyCar with no support series? Might be acceptable for some, but not my glass of sweet tea in August. Mid-Ohio? I’m there every year from Thursday night through Monday morning. Indy? Been going 27 years, and while I’d still make the 11-hour drive without Carb Day in play, it certainly enhances the race weekend experience. Richmond and IndyCar must give serious consideration to keeping the weekend schedule filled with action (no disrespect to Vintage Indy), otherwise, it may be a hard sell getting the hardcore fans to travel more than 90 minutes (on I-95, no less).
I purchased six seats for the Richmond race last night. I was very surprised to see a sizeable majority of the “sweet seats” (Commonwealth and Capital stands, rows 20+, closest to start/finish line) unavailable for purchase. Is this a result of management’s intent to reserve those seats for 2020 season ticket (NASCAR) holders? Did I pull the trigger on lower seats prematurely?
Mark, Woodbridge VA
RM: First off, Richmond wants to make the return all about IndyCar so it’s going to have a Friday night practice session and then have qualifying (and more practice) on Saturday. It’s a little throwback to the old USAC era of one-day shows, and I think support races could be in play down the road, but I know Dennis wants to try this format to see how it’s received.
As for tickets, season-ticket holder renewals were sent out before the IndyCar deal was done and Richmond could not put their tickets up for sale without giving them the opportunity to add the IndyCar race to their season ticket package. Bickmeier has communicated to their season ticket holders that they can add this race during the renewal process, which ends on 11/1. Once they are done with renewals and know which season ticket holders added the IndyCar race, then those seats will be released. Richmond says it will also give early IndyCar purchasers the opportunity to relocate, as that is fair to them based on their early commitment, so it sounds like you can move if you chose. Thanks for supporting IndyCar.
Q: I live 30 miles from Richmond International Raceway and should be happy about the return of the IndyCars. But I am not, because I worry that the show will be a repeat of the races I attended on their earlier visits. The track is too small for cars that fast. Lap times are so quick that you need your head on a swivel, and they run so close to the wall that all the fans see are the air boxes and rear wings as the cars whiz by. Unlike stock cars, IndyCars don’t respond well to side-by-side contact. The Carbon Fiber Manufacturer’s Association was the main beneficiary of the last race I attended at RIR, and I believe more laps were run under yellow than green. I’d much rather drive an extra 150 miles to see Indy cars run at VIR than 30 miles to see them at RIR. Robin, please tell me I am wrong about this.
Greg Glassner, Caroline County, Virginia
RM: You are correct in that Richmond was follow-the-leader the last few races before leaving but featured exciting, two-groove racing when the IRL first went there, and there’s no reason it can’t be a good show if IndyCar gets the downforce right and Firestone gets the right tire. I remember NASCAR fans telling me after one of the early races it was the best thing they’d ever seen, so let’s give it a chance.
Q: As one who lives just over the river in Fredericksburg, VA (less than an hours drive from Richmond on I-95), I’m excited! As a reminder to everybody of how many IndyCar races we have in the mid-Atlantic, well.., it was zero before Richmond. I went to the last race at Richmond, which was the one where TK apologized to the fans for the procession. If we can get the tires to work and have multi-groove racing, it will be a blast. Not to mention that the pre-race with USAC Silver crown cars was also really great. (I don’t know if we can get them back for the date). Too bad we can’t pair up with IMSA at VIR. I’d travel to that in an instant, but as I understand it the track is too narrow?
RM: As we’ve discussed, the first three races were good with two grooves and the last couple were yawners because either the downforce or tires changed – or both – so it’s up to IndyCar and Firestone to get it right next. Yes, VIR isn’t ready for IndyCar in many ways, but I understand it’s a great little road course.