The RACER Mailbag, June 14

The RACER Mailbag, June 14
The RACER Mailbag, June 14

Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to [email protected]. 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: My son and I will be going to Road America for our first visit next weekend. We have general admission on Saturday and Turn 14 Sunday. Any thoughts on what we should see, do (go karts, disc golf course), areas to watch from, local eateries? We will be camping offsite, but looking forward to a full weekend of racing.

Josh, Louisville, KY

MARSHALL PRUETT: Great choice. It’s one of my favorite events each year. The track has amazing food offerings with brats and cheese curds and all the local specialties. Siebkens is the local destination for all racers, so add that to the list. Great part about the track is the fact that you can walk and see almost every corner. If you’re able, bring light backpacks to carry snacks and drinks, and foldout chairs. It’s a walking track, so tour the inside and the areas outside. Print or download a track map before you go and plan where you want to go. You’ll find lots of people in certain corners, which can be great — Turns 3, 5, 6, and 12 — but don’t limit yourself to those areas. Go explore and have fun.

Q: I’ve been thinking about the Garage 56 Cup car and its potential impact on regular Cup cars. The car has shown some impressive times during testing, even running faster than a few cars in the LMGTE-Am class. It’s got some cool aero mods and is lighter than the Next Gen car. Do you think we might see some of these advancements in regular Cup cars down the road?

Also, I’ve been wondering about the possibility of a NASCAR class at Le Mans. Jim France has been involved in both NASCAR and Le Mans for a long time. What do you think about the chances of a NASCAR class at Le Mans in the future?


MP: I’d love to see a Cup class at Le Mans. So much of what we see on an annual basis there is predictable that a mini-class for Cup cars would be a blast. I love the extra cars we get for the Indy 500 and Rolex 24; they bring an air of excitement to the events. Make room for four-six Cup cars at Le Mans? And the Rolex 24? That would be a blast.

A lot was learned about the car — doubling downforce was one — that would seemingly play into the formula’s next update, but it’s hard to say if that’s where Cup wants to take its road racing package.

Lots was learned about the Garage 56 package at Le Mans; how much – if any – of it might be transferred back to NASCAR-spec Cup cars remains to be seen. Alexander Trienitz/Motorsport Images

Q: How will the Garage 56 car influence future development of the current Cup Series car? I for one would love to see that car in all the NASCAR road races. Your thoughts?

Steve Coe, Vancouver, WA

MP: It comes back to the question of where NASCAR might want to take its Cup Series formula. At present, the cars are really hard to drive in road course configuration, and that’s the way it should be. Doubling the aero grip would narrow the gap between the greats and the goods behind the wheel, so I’m not sure I’d want to see downforce make things easier. With cost reductions being a major point of the Next Gen formula, I’m also not sure if teams would welcome a big new road racing package derived from G56 they’d need to implement. How’s this: There’s a lot of smart options available to Cup if they want to take on learnings from the G56 program, but I do wonder if most of it will go down as a one-off meant for France.

Q: Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe of the last 14 wins by Andretti Autosport, seven had Bryan Herta as the race strategist (and of course the Indy 500 with Rossi). If that is fact, that is quite a track record by Herta. He seems to have a way with the drivers he works with.

Randy Mizelle, Oak Island, NC

MP: I’ll go with your research here, Randy; chasing stats while dealing with jet lag ain’t happening! Bryan is extremely good, without question. He’s a big-picture guy, a no-nonsense guy, but also has that voice and approach of a therapist who wants what’s best for you. And in classic Bryan Herta form, he doesn’t care one bit about being in the spotlight for the contributions he makes.

Q: More an FYI than a question, but I feel for David Z in last week’s Mailbag.  I’m guessing he parked in Lot 1A, 1B or the Coke lot. I pasted below a part of a note I sent to Doug Boles, so it won’t be the first time he’s heard about it:

‘The traffic getting to and leaving lot 1B was incredibly slow — it took us almost 3 hours after the end of the race to get from lot 1B to the 38th Street exit to I465. In previous years prior to the pandemic, we’d be halfway home to Chicago by then. It is my belief that a lot of this is on account of Indiana State Police and their lack of coordination. As an example of this, while existing the lot, they had us split from 2 lanes to 4 and then back to 2 all within the distance from Georgetown Rd to Moller Rd, and in turn created a needless chokepoint. Also, at multiple intersections (30th and an entrance to the Coke Lot, 30th and Moller, Moller and 34th), every single police officer was either in their car or looking at their phones instead of actively directing traffic. Next year we will not be renewing the 1B parking pass, and I hope you revisit your arrangement with ISP and ensure a coordinated approach to traffic management next year.’

The worst part is, we took two first-timers who were ready to have us add some tickets to our renewal for next year. When we asked a couple of days later, they politely declined after getting back to the Chicago suburbs at 11:30 at night (in a typical year it’s 7:30-ish).


MP: It was the craziest/busiest 500 I’ve experienced in a long while. I’m hoping your friends enjoyed what went on within the facility, at least. Our daily lives have become so centered around convenience — food, medicine, and groceries can all be brought to our front door in an hour or less — that the idea of going to an event where hours upon hours being lost to traffic and congestion just no longer fits with what’s considered acceptable. I don’t know what the answer is at this point, but if the getting there and the leaving there part is something that leads to a decline in attendance, IMS will need to get creative with the county and state in order to address the issue.

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