Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to mailbag@racer.com. 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: I am hoping for some helpful feedback regarding what to do the morning of the 500 at the track. In my first two trips the last two years, we got there early and checked out the museum in the morning, before sauntering slowly back to our seats in Turn 4.

With the museum closed, though, what are the best spots to check out? Where is the best place to watch the cars heading out to pit lane? Or are we better served sleeping in an hour or two? I am open to any ideas and appreciate any guidance and insight you have.

Ashley, West Bend, WI

MARSHALL PRUETT: I asked my friends at the Elite IndyCar Facebook group to provide some answers. I’ve never been to the Indy 500 as a fan, so I’m more useless than usual here. Here’s a link to the 40-plus responses.

Q: Word is that Arrow McLaren didn’t bring its massive portable suite to Indy this year. Is the team in jeopardy? Zak Brown getting tired of the mismanagement by Penske Entertainment and thinking about exiting?

Jah from Stankonia

MP: The team tells me they have rented a mega double suite off the end of Tower Terrace that gives they guests an amazing view of Turn 3 through Turn 4 and the front straight.

Q: What do you think would happen if I started a racing series whose sole purpose was to turn the fastest lap times as possible at all the current F1 and IndyCar circuits? Didn’t care how good the TV was. Didn’t care if it was safe. Just wanted a race to see who could do 250 miles in the fastest possible time on all the current F1 and IndyCar circuits. 

John Shellhamer

MP: Using the note about disregarding safety, I’d think you’d spend the rest of your life being sued by the families of the drivers who got hurt or killed.

Q: Just want to say how much I’ve enjoyed the Peacock IndyCar coverage. It’s the only reason I have a Peacock subscription. I’ve been an open-wheel fan for more than 50 years. I’m the retired dork who watches every practice session and loves it. I hope the suits remember guys like me when negotiating the next TV contract.


MP: The quality of the broadcasts has been excellent for many years. Having Hinch add deeper layers of tech insights and driver insights has taken the NBC/USA/Peacock IndyCar shows to a new level.

Q: So I’m guessing the speedway engineer at RLL is in the unemployment line by now?

Bernardo, TX

MP: I hope not. They asked a younger kid who was a performance engineer who’d never been an IndyCar race engineer to step up to that role with Graham Rahal’s car earlier this year, and that’s one hell of a tough ask coming off a failure to qualify last year with nothing but race engineering veterans in charge.

Q: In my 50 years on God’s green earth, Saturday was only the second time I’ve ever heard of a plenum fire, and never with so much frequency. What’s the odds someone over at Chevy is sleeping with the fishes tonight?

Adam, MO

MP: Yeah, it was kinda like a bunch of bigfoot sightings happening all at once. A definite rarity, and yet, still somewhat confusing. If only the drivers had sticks with marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers they could hold over their shoulders and make sm ores whenever the plenum fires went off…

Q: Roger Penske owns the Speedway. He owns the series. He owns the team. He owns the Chevrolet engine manufacturing company. All three Penske cars are on the front row and none of them had the same engine plenum issues as many other strong Chevy teams did. My opinion is that Rinus Veekay is an alien or he just had an audition for The Captain with the proper Ilmor programming. (Maybe another cut and paste incident?)

Is Honda gone for good in IndyCar now?

Tom Anderson, Mesa, AZ

MP: Penske’s Will Power had a plenum fire during the Sunday morning Fast 12 practice session. Rinus is ridiculously good. Honda has not told IndyCar it’s gone, from what I understand. Yet.

Q: What was up with the Chevy engine issues during Saturday quali? Poor quality control, or something else?

JM, Tulsa, OK

MP: We wrote a little explainer story about it on Sunday, JM. Here it is.

Q: We all know ratings drive how the broadcasters structure the deals with IndyCar. I typically always watch the races on Peacock but I know the Nielsen numbers don’t track those like me who don’t watch on traditional channels. Would it benefit the series if more people who stream on Peacock not do that and watch on the NBC channel to boost the Nielsen numbers and make those numbers look better to the series, or does it not even matter?

Jon, Cleveland

MP: Actually, streaming numbers are tracked. They’re used in something called “TAD,” which is short for Total Audience Delivery, which adds the broadcast audience size and share to the streaming consumption and combines them into the TAD figure. Watch whichever one you prefer, Jon, and it will be counted.