Sam's Take: MTAF Wheels IndyCar Q & A for August 1st

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Some quick thoughts on the Brickyard 400 from last weekend. The race was a slight step up from the past couple of years. The strategy taking part was interesting to watch. Attendance I think was about the same as last year maybe a little less. Estimated around 85,000 which is good except IMS seats about 250,000 and it looks not so good on tv. Attendance at races is a problem in just about every major racing series. Unfortunately people are not into auto racing like they were 20, 30 years ago. Nowadays, most people want to experience more than the race itself when they attend it in person and promoters are going have to dig deep to keep attendance to a respectful level.

Congrats to Jeff Gordon on his fifth win in the Brickyard 400. As Gordon was the driver I cheered for growing up, it was really cool to see him make history on Sunday. 90 wins in his Cup career. I wasn’t so sure if he could chase 100 wins, but the way he has been driving this season, 100 is not out of the question.

Alright, with the Brickyard 400 done and out of the way, time to resume with the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. This weekend, the IndyCars will be at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200. This is our editor , Shay Hazen‘s hometown race and you guessed it, she’ll be on site for MTAF Wheels. She’ll also be helping Pippa Mann with the Indy Fans Tweet Up this weekend. It will be on Saturday, August 2nd at 5:30pm at the first concession stand when you cross over the bridge. If you’re at the track, makes sure to stop by & meet them as well as other “Tweeters” and watch the Pro Mazda race! Be sure to follow on Twitter @IndyFansTweetUp for more information & updates!

Curt Cavin’s Q & A for July 27th

“Question: I saw you estimated 85K people for Sunday’s Brickyard 400. How accurate do you think that is? (Jim, Pittsboro, Ind.)”

Attendance is tough to figure at a large facility like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway especially when IMS doesn’t release actual attendance numbers publicly. I would say 85,000 would be a good guess.

“Question: Where was the local media after the IMSA race Friday? Nary a word that I could find in IndyStar.com. No mention on the Channel 13 Sports. It’s like there was no race at all. I know there was because I was there, and it was big fun. Seems a shame. (Don, Indianapolis)”

It is a shame honestly. Unfortunately, sports car racing doesn’t have much of a broad audience as other major racing series do. At least the local stations should have  had highlights and reaction from the event.

Robin Miller’s Mailbag for July 30th

Q: I’m already hearing promotions for IndyFest on the radio in Milwaukee instead of the typical week before race. Kudos to Michael Andretti for going the extra mile and getting the word out earlier this year. I was never a huge fan when he raced but I do appreciate what he does for the sport. Without him, they probably wouldn’t race at The Mile anymore. You’ll have to let us know if the extra effort helps with attendance.
John Risser, Muskego, WI”

We should all give Michael Andretti credit for saving the race at the Milwaukee Mile. It is good to hear that the IndyFest is being promoted well in advance of race weekend. I wasn’t too big of a Andretti fan when he raced either, but I sure respected him as a driver. Milwaukee is a track I have always wanted to see.

Q: I’m a racing nut and I enjoy a full weekend of racing. I would rather have Indy Lights and IndyCar in 2-3 days (preferably three) at Pocono instead of one. I want to see as much IndyCar on track activity as possible. What other series could run on that weekend at Pocono?
Chad Frankfield”

For Pocono I would have Indy Lights, Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck Series, and ARCA to go with the main event which of course is the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Q: I see Formula E is scheduled to visit Long Beach on April 4 of next year on a track slightly different than what IndyCar uses. Based on the 2014 IndyCar schedule, this race would be one week prior to a potential IndyCar race. Is IndyCar moving to a different track, and is it concerned a Formula E race so close on the calendar might impact promotion/attendance?
Lou Edina, MN”

The Formula E race at Long Beach is free of charge (no pun intended) so I don’t think it would impact attendance for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. There has been no discussion of the Verizon IndyCar Series race weekend in Long Beach being affected by the Formula E race.

Q: I know you’re not a NASCAR guy but, with IndyCar taking the weekend off, we spent the weekend at IMS. The most competitive race the whole weekend was the IMSA sports cars. There was passing, rubbing, bumping and all under GREEN-flag racing. I hope the Indianapolis Motor Speedway gets the idea that IMS is a single-lane track for the boys from NASCAR and that they need to get moving with installation of APRONS in the four turns so there are more places for deeper driving and more chances to pass under green-flag racing.

The Cup race was one of the worst, most boring races I’ve ever attended, I fell asleep in my seat in Penthouse E about halfway through the race and when I woke up, the three guys next to me were also sleeping. Maybe NASCAR should give the IMS road course a chance? It couldn’t hurt.  I’ve been coming to the Speedway for 42 years for Indy cars, made every NASCAR event and every F1 race that was held here and Indy’s new best kept secret, the Historic Races that were held here the first week of June. I will return for the 500 as long as my body will allow me and I plan to purchase IMSA tickets for 2015 but NASCAR? Time will tell if I return for this snooze fest. Can’t wait for Mid Ohio next weekend.
Tony Piergallini, Steubenville, Ohio”

I am not sure if the aprons will improve the racing for the stock cars at the Brickyard, but I think it is worth a try. They should be installed in time for the 2015 race. I did watch the Tudor United SportsCar race and it was pretty good. Not as good as the first two years, but still fun to watch. As for the Cup race, I have seen worse races but I didn’t think it was that bad. I would be pretty upset if I paid $159 for a Penthouse seat and fell asleep during the race. I don’t ever see the Cup cars running the IMS road course but maybe the Nationwide Series.

Q: I thought that when Verizon acquired primary sponsorship that they were “going to take things to the next level?” How do they increase awareness of IndyCar when the only advertising they do is to people who are already fans during the races? It seems like a no-brainer to me that if you want to increase the fanbase, you need to reach out to people not familiar with the series. Why Verizon, Honda, Chevrolet, Firestone… don’t cross-market IndyCar in their national advertising MUCH more is beyond comprehension. Honda seems to be the only company that promotes IndyCar a little in national advertising and in their stores. 
Don Dahler, Minneapolis”

You have to remember that Verizon did not sign on as title sponsor until about a week before the season started. I would give them another year before we give judgment to Verizon. I think they’ll still do wonders for the series. To be fair, they have multiple commercials running promoting the series and their on-track presence is very apparent. They have also assisted with a HUGE increase in wireless coverage at tracks like Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway & this weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, just to name a few.

Q: My question has to do with an article I read in the Toronto Star. In essence it states that the Honda Indy Toronto must run in June due to a conflict with the Pan Am Games. The organizers have known about this for three years now. They can’t race in August due to the CNE and track construction and take down being next to impossible. I know there are races that traditionally run in June that may have muti-year deals and fixed dates but hasn’t Toronto come up with a solution yet if they knew this was happening three years ago?

Kevin Savoree stated that Toronto is too important an event to lose. If the fans who stood/sat there and wouldn’t budge and waited and waited Saturday before the first race was scrubbed are the guide, he’s exactly right that IndyCar, Exhibition Place and the City of Toronto would be foolish not to find a solution. After this event, how close in your opinion are they to a solution and should anyone worry that Toronto might not be on the schedule next year?
Geoff in Toronto”

According to a article in the Toronto Star, it looks like the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto will take place in June. The specific date in June will be determined. My prediction is that it’ll take the weekend that Houston have and move Houston to a later date if they decide to run races past Labor Day weekend.

Thank you to Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star, Robin Miller of Racer.com, and to the readers for their questions from their respective Q & A’s.

As stated earlier, Shay will be on site at Mid Ohio this weekend for the Honda Indy 200. Be sure to give her a follow on Twitter @SHAYZEN and follow the MTAF Wheels Twitter account @MTAFWheels. MTAF Wheels is also now on Facebook.

Make sure to also follow Sam on Twitter @sklein31 and join the conversation on Twitter this weekend with hashtags #IndyCar, and #Honda200

Catch the Honda Indy 200 Sunday afternoon starting at 3pm on NBCSN and on the IndyCar Radio Network.

Featured image by Chris Jones