I hope you don’t mind if I call you Roger. You’ve been on my television for long enough that you feel like a friend, and plus I’ve never seen anyone call you anything else.
Photo of Helio Castroneves is from the linked Team Penske story.
I am writing concerning your 2018 plans for Helio Castroneves. As you know, Helio has driven CART/IndyCar for Team Penske for the past 18 years, to some considerable success. He has won 30 open-wheel races for you, including three Indianapolis 500s. You announced today that in 2018, he would drive sportscars for you, running only the Indianapolis 500 in an IndyCar.
Please reconsider this decision, for two reasons.
First—Roger, you have a racing career that is more than six decades long. You have been part of American open-wheel racing at its very zenith. You were also right there when the split nearly killed it—a catastrophe from which many thought the sport may never recover.
We’ve been limping along for a while, and while the quality of the racing has been outstanding, it’s only this year that we’ve seen a few sparks of growth in IndyCar. We have a little bit of momentum. We have exciting new bodywork next year. We have a charismatic, American, Team Penske champion. Against this promising backdrop, Helio is one of the biggest stars of the series—one of two real faces of IndyCar. To remove him from the series at this juncture is unnecessarily destructive.
Second—frankly, Helio deserves better. He has been ceaselessly loyal to you, and clearly regards you almost paternally. As much as he has achieved in Penske livery, he deserves an announced farewell tour—a chance for him, as well as his fans, to say goodbye—that could also be a publicity boon. Sitting on the wall after the Sonoma race, clearly sad but trying so hard not to sound dejected or unappreciative, is no way for this star to end his IndyCar career.
Helio Castroneves is an extremely talented race car driver, and will serve the Penske sportscar effort very well. Please, let’s make that first Penske sportscar season 2019. Let’s have Helio full-time in the Team Penske #3 in IndyCar for 2018—for the fans, for the health of the sport, and for Helio himself.
Thank you for your consideration.