Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of the RACER authors can be sent to [email protected] Due to the high volume of questions received, we cannot guarantee that every letter will be published, but we will answer as many as we can. Posted questions can be edited for length and clarity. Questions received after 3pm ET every Monday will be displayed the following week.
Q: I’d like to revisit the idea of why new chassis manufacturers aren’t allowed in the name of cost containment when even the IRL allowed multiple manufacturers to begin with – where Dallara, G-Force and Riley & Scott were all in the field. Are things so bad at IndyCar compared to back then that this isn’t possible?
I can’t understand how chassis competition was regulated with the limited scope of IRL – although CART at different times had a greater variety of chassis manufacturers competing against each other. Why not go back to the days when chassis competition was administered? The Indy 500 became famous because the specifications were so open that people brought new chassis and new concepts and encouraged innovations that stimulated interests at all levels of society. People are under the wrong impression that Indy 500 will now reach the same level as it did in the 1970s and 1990s when there is nothing to look forward to in terms of variation in the field.
MARSHALL PRUETT: I hear what you’re saying, Shyam. Like you, I got into the sport at a time when the concept of open wheel cars didn’t exist. Everything was different or common, right down to what we now call the road to Indy.
As for your question, the reason Dallara was given the kingdom is quite simple: teams don’t want options. It’s the spec racing equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome. Owners are so used to spec racing and spec thinking that they’ve fallen in love with not being able to make the wrong decision. Aside from not knowing if the Indy 500 will be a Chevy or Honda year, every other buying or leasing decision is protected. Everyone has the same Dallara DW12, same transmissions, same damn identical engines, same tires, same fuel, same oil, etc. Granted, teams can make wrong decisions when it comes to dampers, but all top teams make the majority of them . house, so that even the one large and free development area is largely protected from the risk of buying the wrong off-the-shelf solution.
I don’t see how we can ever go back to the days when other cars, tires and the rest will be wanted and welcomed. The only point I want to draw on is the notion that IndyCar won’t return to its glory days because of the identical cars. I don’t know what the number is, but there are many new and dedicated fans who weren’t there in the 1970s-1990s and only know special cars. Over time, those of us who lived through and loved the non-spec days are getting smaller and smaller, so we can’t tie the future growth potential of the series to chassis variety.
Q: Does Alexander Rossi’s move to AMSP and a Chevy-powered team mean he won’t be a part of Acura’s future sports car plans? Could we see Alexander and Pipo Derani in a caddy? Chevy power in IndyCar, Cadillac power in IMSA – all GM boxes are ticked. That would be a great team – even if it were only for long-distance races.
Jonathan, Ventura, CA
MP: A really smart Cadillac team should certainly consider our guy Rossi, because if history is any guide, Acura/Honda isn’t keen on welcoming Chevy-powered IndyCar drivers into its sports car programs, and vice versa when GM Locking the door to Honda IndyCar aces get into its prototypes and GTs.
The only problem for Alex is the limited number of long-haul seats on the Cadillac GTP side. It’s one car apiece for Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express Racing, and based on their well-developed lineups I’m not sure if there will be any vacancies.
Q: I hope everything is going well and you are enjoying the season so far with the many different pole and race winners – looks like a lot of parity.
Rossi and Kirkwood news for next season aside, I’m curious if you hear of any other news for 2023 drivers, either in, out or new to the series? Also, with the current tally of 26 cars and several teams talking about a possible expansion and a new team or two potentially joining, what do you predict the full-time entries for next season?
Appreciate everything you do to keep the IndyCar community informed!
Rod, Fresno, CA
MP: We had a similar question in last week’s mailbag that covered most of the first question. The main thing I would add – and I’ve had this conversation with a number of IndyCar drivers and team owners – is the lack of proven talent to hire. That ties in with your last question, and yes, if a few plans work out as intended, we could see 28 cars on a full-time basis, assuming Foyt sticks with three cars. We know AMSP is adding one, and JHR is keen on adding a car too.
Things get interesting when teams looking to fill a vacancy will likely have to look outside of IndyCar for solutions. Just as Callum Ilott was an unknown relative to IndyCar fans, I wouldn’t be surprised if more drivers like him – F2 pilots at the top, F1 test drivers, etc. – found their way into the series. RLL’s Christian Lundgaard is another perfect example of this.
Most of the top IndyCar drivers are signed for 2023, and all but one or two Indy Lights drivers will be ready to step up and shine. With the relatively empty talent pool to draw from, looking across the Atlantic is the next obvious step.
Q: I haven’t seen or heard anything about AJ Foyt this year. Any news (hopefully good) on how one of the big timers is doing?
david seaton, Indian
MP: I’ve seen Super Tex a few times and he’s looking his best in many years. I wanted to do a feature on him in May but he declined, saying he hated all racing magazines including RACER. Oh well.
Q: This week a question about sponsorships: AutoNation sponsors both the Rossi and Castroneves/Pagenaud teams. I don’t recall seeing any ownership overlap in the past. Is that unusual?
Phil from MI
MP: It’s unusual! I believe they are completely independent as Meyer Shank Racing and Andretti Autosport have their own dealings with the company.
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