The Mailbag Lives On

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Last Wednesday, Racer.com posted an article announcing that a new version of Robin Miller’s Mailbag would return on Wednesday November 3. When I read that, I began to visualize the outrage of some fans, while others will be overjoyed.

IndyCar fans are very passionate about our sport. Sometimes they are a little too passionate – especially when there is a death involved. Most know that my mantra in life is Change is Bad, but I also realize when it is time to leave things in the past.

I remember when Tom Carnegie passed away in February of 2011, IMS officials thought it would be a nice tribute to have Carnegie’s booming voice announce the first few qualifying runs. I’ll admit, it was nostalgic to hear that famous “…and heeee’s on it” bellowing through the PA over the massive grounds. But after a few times, it felt like it had served its purpose. I guess Speedway officials thought the same thing because they stopped ding it after three or four runs. Fans were not happy and I remember seeing concerted efforts on social media to have the track play Carnegie’s voice at the start of every qualifying run indefinitely.

I remember when Jim Nabors announced that the 2014 race would be his last to sing (Back Home Again in) Indiana, and then passed away in 2017. Upon his death, fans thought that rather than have forgettable acts like Straight, No Chaser or alleged singers like Josh Kaufman sing the famous song just before the race – that it would be better to play a recording of Jim Nabors each and every year until the end of time. Seriously? While I loved hearing that familiar baritone voice each year prior to 2014, I thought it was time to find someone new, once Nabors hung up his microphone. Fortunately, Jim Cornelison stepped in for the 2017 race with his own unique version, and he has done it ever since. I am hoping he will continue to do it for the next twenty years or so.

Although it was not a huge surprise, racing fans were devastated when Robin Miller passed away in August. Not only was he a bigger-than-life personality that fans will miss, his weekly mailbag on Racer.com had become a Wednesday morning staple for years. He didn’t just answer fans questions – he wrote in the same gruff, plain-spoken manner he used in everyday conversations. When you read his replies, you could imagine the tone of voice used, especially when someone would write in asking when IndyCar would ever return to Michigan – or something along those lines.

Now Racer.com is going to revive the Mailbag in a couple of weeks, calling it the RACER Mailbag. They will continue to run it on the very familiar Wednesday morning and it will be in the same format with various Racer writers and guests, but most of the time – it will be Marshall Pruett answering the bulk of the questions.

Personally, I’m happy about this.

Robin Miller had an online mailbag since I started getting online in the nineties. Every day, I would check the IndyStar website to see if there were updates. It wasn’t on a weekly schedule then, it was updated sporadically with just a few questions – sometimes only one or two.

When Miller was unceremoniously fired from The Star in 2001, Curt Cavin took over the mailbag and did a fine job with it. His responses were sometimes a little softer than what Miller might have said, but his answers and information were spot-on. Miller continued doing his own Mailbag at ESPN, SPEED and then Racer.com giving IndyCar fans two great sources for information and entertainment.

Readers of this site have asked me how I come up with topics three times a week, even during the offseason. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but if I couldn’t think of a topic – I could always go to Robin Miller’s mailbag and usually come up with something there to write about.

I fear that some will be angered that the Mailbag continues and will see it as a sign of disrespect. As the article points out, this is what Robin wanted. On the flipside, there are probably those that would prefer seeing re-prints from Mailbags of twenty years ago.

Robin Miller didn’t invent the Mailbag concept. He may have had the first one for IndyCar fans, but this was not original to him. Curt Cavin proved twenty years ago that the Mailbag can flourish, even though Robin Miller cannot put his unique spin on it.

IndyCar fans need a centralized place where they can go for direct answers to their questions, without having to log in to TrackForum. Robin Miller’s Mailbag provided that for decades, and the RACER Mailbag will continue to do that while not trying to replace Robin Miller. No one can do that.

George Phillips

7 Responses to “The Mailbag Lives On”

  1. Marshall has elevated Miller to a God-like position. Not saying that is wrong, it’s a bit much for me but in the end, if Marshall is willing to take this over, given his position on Miller, you know it will be done with great respect to Robin. So I am completely OK with it.

    • I agree. MP had total respect for Miller and will look after his legacy. I for one say thank you. He might be a bit of a windbag but his knowledge and observation is excellent. His written copy is also in my view excellent so safe hands. Anyway who else and I looked forward to the mailbag big time.

  2. Happy to see the mailbag return. Not so happy with the choice of primary author. Both Racer.com and the Indycar community would be better served by a diversity of voices rather than a consolidation…

  3. billytheskink Says:

    I’m thrilled to see the mailbag starting back up. It is a critical eleemnt of the feedback loop from the fans to the series, especially in recent years as coverage of Indycar has shrunk to a handful of media and blogs.

    And a big thank you to Robin Miller for making the mailbag what it became. Robin had the series’ ear and he used that powerful and difficult to obtain position to advocate for us fans.

  4. I too am glad the Mailbag will continue. I learned from both the questioner and Robin. My making the Mailbag was a badge of honor for me, but receiving a reply directly from Robin was a gift. I will miss Robin’s passion for IndyCar that was evident in his replies and I hope this latest version on Racer.com is a success.

  5. James T Suel Says:

    The passing of Robin Miller was a great loss to this racing community. Won’t be the same without Robin. There was only one. But iam happy the mailbag will carry on.

  6. as posted before:
    RM replied to Every Single Email i ever sent to him.
    although that does not speak to the Mailbag, it does
    highlight his 24/7 commitment. the revised Mailbag
    could not be any more truthful than Robin’s.

    Racer.com out of context quote:
    “And it’s deliberately not trying to be.”

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