Welcome to the RACER mailbag. Questions for any of the RACER editors 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 possible. Posted questions may be edited for style or clarity.
Q: OK Marshall, let me try to figure this out. First IndyCar had a delay with race times to accommodate NBC. Because of the delay, fans who travel (by plane) had to bet that the race would take place in the evening, but no, it is noon. So it cost us extra flight costs to keep us on schedule and coordinate flights. (Sorry RP, my private jet is not yet paid for). However, we would see qualifying on Sunday morning, but wait, another possible change because of the “Sebring amendments”?
They better keep Sunday as it is, or add an Indy Lights race on Sunday morning, or lose dedicated fans!
Skip Ranfone, Summerfield, Florida
MARSHALL PRUETT: I asked the show if they had a final schedule that I could see and was told there were still a few things being finalized at the moment. I doubt Indy Lights will be added – unless someone wants to pay for all the teams to run an extra race – so we’re stuck with an old-fashioned “wait and see” on what the Texas schedule will offer.
I hope IndyCar uses a giant Sharpie and writes “NO FUTURE RACES ON SEBRING MID-MARCH WEEKEND” on the walls of offices where such decisions are made. He left absolutely no one in the paddock happy or impressed.
Q: I am researching and learning more about fuel cells and tanks in motorsport. IndyCar’s website describes the cell used in the IR18 as “anti-break” but does not go into detail. Do you know who supplies these fuel cells and what type of material they are made of? (I can see that a supplier might want to keep details secret, but I’m very curious).
MP: Premier Fuel Systems of England supplies Dallara with the DW12 fuel bladders. The most common overrunning fuel bladder construction method I know of uses woven Kevlar fabric as the strong, (nearly) impenetrable material that lives between a sandwich of inner and outer rubber liner. The more caustic the fuel, the more specialized rubber is used inside to prevent erosion. And since bladders live in a small void built into the back of an IndyCar tub – between the seat back in the cockpit and the rear firewall where the engine mates – the bladder needs to be flexible so it can be shaped and compressed to fit through one of the refueling ports and stuffed into its compartment. One thing that has always been a pain to install or remove? Fuel pockets…
Q: What’s going on with the non-existent 2022 IndyCar Online Store offers? I checked Sato’s new shirt every week (I have to support my hometown team), and nothing. I understand that some pilots/sponsors have been announced late, but hey… there are two weeks left before the first race!
Esteban from Chicago
MP: The funny thing here is that I went to the IndyCar/IMS Shop site and yes, they only have seven driver jerseys available, and none of them feature Taku or David Malukas. So I went to the Dale Coyne Racing site, found their shop page, and this is what it said:
“If you’re looking for Alex Palou, Santino Ferrucci or Dale Coyne Racing merchandise with Vasser Sullivan, be sure to check it out…”
So while there’s no doubt that IndyCar is running out of driver products ahead of the new season, the only place you think you’re on top – DCR – is still trying to sell you stuff from drivers who left after 2020 and a co-entrant who left after 2021…
Q: I am currently making an effort to attend all races on the IndyCar schedule. I was able to attend the 500 and last year I was able to go to Texas, GMR GP, Gateway and Portland. This year I plan to go to Detroit and Iowa, and hopefully Nashville and Laguna Seca. My question is: what is the current status of the contract for all the races on the calendar? I know the 500, and besides, the Indy GP isn’t going anywhere; St. Pete and Long Beach announced long-term extensions, and Gateway did when I was at the race, so they’re not in jeopardy, but what about the rest of the races?
Justin F., CT
MP: It might be easier to just mention the ones I have on my mental list as question marks for long-term sustainability. You’ve been to Texas, so that’s good. There was a recent St. Pete council meeting where the use of part of the land where the race is held for other purposes was raised as something to consider after his current contract had run its course. . Toronto needs to have a solid performance this year to show it’s financially viable for its promoters to stay alive. Iowa, upon its return, must also show its promoters that it deserves to remain a fixture on the calendar.
Nashville seemed like a success, but with every new street course, I’m still worried about whether he’ll survive to earn a second multi-year deal. And the last two races of the year at Portland and Laguna Seca give me acid reflux over small crowds and the appearance of limited revenue to justify paying seven-figure sanction fees for years to come.
Q: Full disclosure: I’m not a NASCAR fan at all. But I turned on the “race” at the Colosseum just to see what it was like. Visually, it looked even dumber than I would have imagined. Does NASCAR or its fan base really think this is a way to increase its popularity? Thank goodness F1 and IndyCar fans are not subjected to this same line of thinking with these “racing” gimmicks by our executives. For those who love real racing, the Rolex 24 At Daytona was fantastic
Josh Meier, Louisville, Kentucky
MP: On a weekend when there were no major races, NASCAR stepped in and, at least based on TV ratings, scored big. I watched some of it, and yes, it was a typical short-track event where clean passes were rare. But I felt really jealous for IndyCar; a decent crowd showed up, singers sang, and FOX had a quality audience that consumed the stuff. I would welcome this “problem” any day for IndyCar.