It's time for Miles to address IndyCar fans directly

February 13, 2013
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Randy Bernard is long gone as IndyCar Series CEO, but let’s hope the open-wheel circuit maintains the tradition he started of presenting a State of the Series address to jump start the season.

Although there’s been no announcement about a State of the Series pitch, sources close to IndyCar said one is in the works, either in Indianapolis early next month or perhaps in conjunction with one of the series’ upcoming on-track tests.

Bernard made the presentation in front of a good-sized audience at the Hilbert Circle Theatre last year, and keeping the announcement at the series’ epicenter in Indianapolis would make sense.

If IndyCar officials are going to go through with it, now would be the time to announce it. With the series set to go green March 24 in St. Petersburg, time is running short.

 While Bernard’s presentations were full of glitz and fluff, he also managed to weave in some meaningful news and earned some good press for the series, its teams and sponsors as it fired up its season.

With recent changes in IndyCar, a State of the Series would be more significant this year than ever. Those who compete in and support the series are especially keen to hear from new Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, who’s been making the rounds since he took his new post in December.

Series fans are eager to hear Miles’ plans for replacing Bernard in the CEO post. Currently, Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus is interim series CEO.

Fans want to know what’s going on with aero kits, which will help make the cars look different from one another. They want to know what’s going to be done to make the series a more balanced offering of ovals, road and street courses. They want to know what the plan is for series expansion and what new markets IndyCar might tackle.

They're curious about IndyCar's plans to start a play-off system akin to NASCAR's Chase for the Cup and want to know what series officials are going to do short- and long-term to improve the series' television package.

And they want to know how series officials are going to better develop and market American drivers. Announcing that up-and-coming American Conor Daly will race at this year’s Indianapolis 500 would be a good start. Daly recently tweeted that his schedule would allow him to race at Indianapolis this year, and league sources are whispering that A.J. Foyt is in discussions with the charismatic young racer, currently working his way up the Formula One ladder.

With the recent departure of a handful of key IndyCar executives, a number of series constituents want to know what’s going on inside IndyCar’s headquarters and what this means for the series’ direction. Word that IndyCar is downsizing its staff and asking Speedway staffers to do double duty and fill those holes has been unsettling to some who think the series could lose steam as a result. Promoters at tracks that host IndyCar races are especially concerned that Speedway staffers will be spread too thin and focus more on the money-making IMS and less on the money-losing IndyCar Series.

Given Miles’ skills as a public speaker, a State of the Series could go a long way to articulate his vision for growth for IndyCar and allay any lingering fears about his regime’s direction.

Despite some concerns, Miles already has the confidence of people inside of the series in a way Bernard was never able to achieve.

I’ve talked to dozens of people involved in the series and they all have good things to say about Miles. Much of the skepticism I heard about Miles from series insiders late last year has faded.

“I have been very impressed with Mark Miles as a sports-minded executive,” said Mike Hull, Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s managing director. “He understands all sides of the sports business.”

The fans—many still steamed that the affable and approachable Bernard was shown the door—are another story. They simply haven’t had the access to Miles that some team owners, sponsors and race promoters have been afforded.

Miles can be excused to some extent for not yet going all out to reach fans. After all, he’s only been on the job a couple months. Still, fans will be watching closely to see if Miles offers them the kind of access Bernard did.

A State of the Series would be a good way to help Miles start winning over current IndyCar fans and generating new interest in the series. And such a presentation could show that while IndyCar may at times race in circles, the business plan is moving forward.

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  • Mark Miles, address this
    The DW12 is the most unappealing Indycar EVER...whether from new body parts or body kits, change the way this car looks. It's ugly and has forced even the most ardent supporters away from the sport. FANS want attractive sexy vehicle that look fast. The DW12 is like a racing repellant. Until you address this problem, the series, sport and the 500 will suffer. And, you can take that to the bank. (Oh, and hiring Brian Barnhart as IRL CEO is a deal breakers too). Get with the fans bro...hey, saw you at the Hoosier game! Nice Indiana garb, dude.
    • Contrary Opinion
      Contrary to the opinion left earlier, there are many racing fans who have really enjoyed the new racing package and the DW12. It has proven to be a better race car and a better product to watch than initially thought especially on the road/street courses. Yes it looks slighly different than previous packages but, a welcomed change. A huge part of racing is the constant innovation from the car builders and the teams.
    • IndyCar
      If the citizens of Indianapolis/Indiana think that Mark Miles recent request is out of order, then can someone please tell me how the CIB can justify what we have spent on the Pacers and Colts. The colts are worth billions and yet we spend millions to provide them a new stadium and maintain it.
    • DW12 Looks
      The car may look a bit odd. But, it provides for great racing. Unlike the previous chassis, the DW seems to have a base amount of downforce that sets all teams at a baseline that is far more manageable in traffic. They can then fine tune the aero settings. I think the DW12 is safer and more fun to watch than previous chassis.
    • Miles Takes A Different Approach Than Bernard
      I believe with Miles we will see much more disciplined approach to growth in strategic areas. One of the biggest is the ability to retain rights to all content in every deliverable form. The fact that meaningful content is unavailable to an OTT audience means falling behind trends in a big way. IndyCar is also about more than a car those predisposed to such criticism obsessively yelp about at every turn. The fact is the racing was considered great on every type of course, and the easiest way to create differentiation is by adopting the aero kits. Wholesale changes to encourage innovation at each step is a really nice pipe dream, but who pays for it without losing half the field? Miles has a lot on his plate, but seems to be taking a methodical approach to become fully engaged. If he listens to the fans I hope he listens to actual fans and not those who say they don't watch. Those are not real fans.
    • How about streaming?
      Where's the streaming of practice, races etc? Maybe the #100Million CIB/taxpayer fleecing Mr. Miles is looking for can pay for streaming of the races etc.? You know, like a modern series. Maybe the $100 million can help pay for body kits so the DW12 could look more like an AOW car instead of a dog scooting his butt across the livingroom rug? I said unappealing, and even the media is using terminology like "chassis only a mother can love". Mr. Miles, we are the mothers and fathers of the sport and we hate the looks of the DW12. It's a semi-open wheeled car. Look, if you bring Brian Barnhart back, can we fans have the bumpers removed? Pretty-please?
      • The Miles Approach-Miles Ahead
        I remain comforted in the knowledge that Miles will never consider lunatic ramblings of repetitive, second-grade level, hostile critics when charting the future course of IndyCar, and will instead rely on intellect and the advice of professional peers.
      • Bumpers
        Those bumpers might have saved Wheldon and will probably save a few others. I think ugly is less important.
      • A State of The Sport topic...
        ...which must be addressed, is the sports severely declining popularity. It is amazing a once-proud sport of note, has been decimated to the point a mere half a million or less followers exist in the United States. It is in such severe decline now, and of such little relevance to the general public, that without an Indianapolis 500, also struggling as evidenced by the push for public funding now,there would either be no Indy car racing sport at all, or if so, it would be akin to SCCA racing. And really, that is where it is headed. The Indy Car sport in general and the Indianapolis 500 in pareticular, are irrelevant outside the Marion County area and perhaps, at best, Indianapolis. Best bet: The State of Indiana, City of Indianapolis, Township of Speedway, and Marion County form a public-private partnership in which the IMS is owned by the government entity, and operated by a new private concern consisting of racing officals and executives who put on the annual "500" mile race each May. The rest of the year, the facility can be used as a mixed-use State/Municipal park. The IMS needs to be taken down in size to about 175,000 seats maximum and much of the facility converted to a quasi-public park/convention center-type facility. Weddings, receptions, business meetings, seniors grooups etctera...
      • Not Sure What That Has To Do With Miles
        Burl, do you have that text available to copy and paste whenever Anthony writes any sort of IMS or IndyCar related blog? Because every single time he does, virtually the same text appears, over and over. And yet every year the 500 sells hundreds of thousands of tickets, season attendance tops 1 million, OTA ratings are average for this point in societal evolution, cable ratings are average for this point in societal evolution, every team has a primary sponsor, the series has 25 or so, they get paid millions to be on television, millions more in sanctioning, millions more in merchandising, and outperform many other sports and entertainment entities. I am happy you choose to share your cute little fantasy, Burl, but how many more years will this obsessive repetitiveness of yours continue, and when will this doomsday scenario you portend actually come to pass? Your kind has been 100% incorrect for nearly twenty years. What gives?
      • NO MikeB
        Brian Barnhart knew about the safety issues with the old car. It was documented as a flying piece of crap over and over for 7 years. Randy Bernard authorized the Las Vegas massacre of putting 30+ cars on a 1.5 mile banked oval. EVERYONE new the risks. Now the rumor is Barnhart might be hired as CEO? MikeB, why didn't they make bumpers before? Probably the SAME reason they can't have body kits....NO MONEY. SO, while DW might still be with us today if for bumpers, let's not forget the failure to act (and then cover it all up) by IMS management. Yeah yeah, the sport is dangerous, I know. You realize the current DW12 bodykit was a BETA kit, don'tcha you know? Never meant to be on every car of the 33 cars (or less) whereever The IRL races. The ICONIC idea is a total failure because of this reason. I reckon some wouldn't know that a 2012 Corvette is FASTER than a DW12 scootermobile, would they? That speaks for itself right thar. Personally, I think the IC03 was a WAY better looking car, and IT was hideous.
      • Depsite Dispicable's constant...
        ...and futile defenses of a dying sport, the hard, cold facts are...so few watch or follow as to warrant it a non-popular, niche sport followed be a generous half a million nationwide, perhaps and likely less. That si the fact. If Dispicable were to go to AnyMall USA or mini-golf course, maybe a pizza joint in Pacoima or a burger place in Bangor, he could survey say, a random 50 people with "How about that Dario Franchitti?" or "What kind of race car is the DW12?" or "When is the Grand Prix of Baltimore" and he would get maybe, MAYBE, a generous three respondants who know what he is even talking about but more than likely ZERO. Now take the same crowd and ask them who won the Super Bowl? What team does Kobe play for? Who is Tiger? Where is Wrigley Field? Niche, minor-league sport, with a very small following of old die-hards. The face if Indy car racing is sort of Robin Miller when you do your thinking on it, Dispicalicious.
      • Great points
        I just did a Google search for "Indycar" in my FIrefox browser....turned up in the right highlight section with pictures of them...Danica, Dario and Randy Bernard. There's an identity problem that needs to be addresses. Not even Indy 500 pops up. The largest search engine in the world and it turns up two divorcee's and an obscure cable company president. You see Mark Miles, if the marketability of the sport existed this wouldn't be happening. Cars are ugly. Not a marketable product. ZERO identity after existing or lasting 100+ years. See what we mean? And the first piece you tackle is taxpayer shamming and allegedly hiring of Brain Barnhart. Must be the bizzarro world where you live. Down is up, black is white, red is roses. Oh well, business as usual at 16th and Jonestown. Stay classy, all you adults.
      • 16th & Jonestown-As Classy As It Gets LOL
        Wow, the more the kids are exposed for what they are, the more they froth at the typing fingers. Not sure what any of the ranting has to do with the task that Mark Miles faces, but whatever. Burl, if asked me to name any soccer player I might say something like Beckham, but further than that you got me. Yet soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Which leads back to a question asked yet predictably unanswered. When will all these predictions of doom actually come to pass? I suspect that since the sport preceded all of out lives, it will succeed all of us as well. Do you intend to go to your grave repetitively screeching such nonsense?
      • Hmmm...
        Let's see, hugely popular WORLD sport unknown by a duplicitous bag of hot air in America. Not surprising. Fast-fading AMERICAN sport no longer known by Joe Q. within the region it enjoyed its popularity let alone one country. Big difference! THAT is what Mark Miles faces. I wonder how long this new savior will be around. Being the big dog everyone says he is, I'd give him two years max. One to get a feel for how far this all needs to be reworked. One to look for another job after he too finds it can't and needs to get out before his reputation takes a big a hit. Hmmm. What is his age? Maybe this is his last job before retiring to the golf course and spending his days watching the grand kids play soccer. It happens. A lot.
      • Screeching The Same Thing for 17 Years
        Here is what is difficult to grasp from an emotional health standpoint. How is it that a small fringe group of former CART fans that despise the Hulman-George family, particularly since 1996, can keep that much obsessive hatred alive for that long without basic evolution forcing even a small amount of maturity? Life is too short for that kind of nonsense. I wish just once that any member of that family would channel Big Bill France and enforce their leadership by any means necessary, even with a loaded gun like Big Bill. They won't, of course. Too much dignity. Your little group should be careful for what you wish. When left to their own devices your ownership group killed themselves. Twice. And tried to take the entire sport with them. Rest assured that will not happen with the family in charge of IMS. They now control almost all of the supply chain. My advice: Get with the program or find another interest. You have proven you cannot reason with any sort of rational thought, but you get an 'A' for persistence. Why not just enjoy it? It's obvious the group of you watch every second. Give it a shot. Obviously there is room for improvement in many areas of IndyCar. Why not take a more adult approach and work toward such change constructively and as an adult? Perhaps Mr. Miles would take you more seriously.
      • What flatulance
        We are the sport's conscience...it's the part you and the Speedway lackey's do not possess. If you could see yourselves far outside those rusty gates...perhaps hunedreds of miles away, the sport is non-existent. We have collectively brought the problems of the sport front and center...RIGHT HERE. Just like always. It really don't matter because the Speedway management is NEVER going to take common sense into account, ever. Remember, they don't care what's on the track, only that the grandstands are full. Gotta keep the inheritance up. Soon to be $100 MILLION richer!
      • Creative Solutions
        Thank goodness for forward thinking people. Here in 2013 this type of stimulus will benefit the entire area. Fantastic!
      • Chief, you post the ramblings of a deranged lunatic. Spurned because, as you admitted, your series committed suicide, multiple times. Unhappy until TG, IMS, Indycar or whoever gives you a personal apology, you post continous and for the most part uninteligible drivel. You are the sports conscience? Really? You are deranged. I Googled Indycar and it brought up an article from ESPN about how the writer thought Barnhart should be CEO. I am guessing that might send you even further over the edge. Chief get over your pompous, self righteous ramblings and actually talk about real issues and people may actually care about what you say. Until then you will continue to be a joke laughed at by real racing fans.
      • State of the series
        Maybe we can get an update on Ashley Judd and Dario....
      • 1996!
        Yes, race fans! You guessed it....the Indycar Online Store has the NEW 1996 INDY CAR Series sweatshirt hoodies NOW FOR SALE!!! Hey, Mark Miles....pretty good false marketing fella. I know, revisionism is good. HaY Indyman....everything I talk about here is on point. I spell out EXACTLY what is wrong with the series, the cars, the management, pretty much everything. Mark Miles and I have exactly the same amount of experience running an open wheel series. It's fine with me if you disagree with my opinions...but at least have the sense to HAVE an opinion before castrating my rights to mine. Indycar wasn't established in 1996 you doofuses. So with this proof, is it any surprise Indycar actively engages in false advertising? Youse guys gonna refute that?
      • And now for something completely different
        Legendary crew chief Jim McGee speaks...talks about the ugly slow DW12 car, the pitiful mis-direction of the sport, TV ratings suck, spec ICONIC garbage, etc., ad nauseum. Mark Miles, get with the program fella...you haven't a clue. http://gordonkirby.com/categories/columns/theway/2013/the_way_it_is_no371.html
      • McGee...Not!
        Chief, come on! You should know this all by now. Since Jim McGee is against the racing as it is today in Indycar, he is NOT a real racer. The IBJ IndyFan goon squad will tell you that. I bet you Disciple and Indyman have way more experience running championship teams than any non-racer like McGee. And please, do not get those two started on Gordon Kirby. He has only written books and for major magazines on racing, so what does he know. I bet Disciples blog is way more popular. You can read it here at IBJ. Kirby doesn't do that. Mr. Miles would be way better served to follow the advice of The Disciple and Indyman than McGee and Kirby.
      • Gotta Get Me One Of Those Hoodies!
        LOL. Actually, if you know how to read you would know that I wrote that McGee made some great points. He did not propose how it could be paid for by most of the teams in the series, but whatever. My only problem with the piece was that it was 1 paragraph of substance and 24 paragraphs of the same stuck-in-1995, 'end is near' nonsense bleated by you and the handful of your bitter little pals. Perhaps that explains why a supposedly esteemed racing writer like Kirby is exiled to a blog and not some mainstream outlet. My blog is something I do mostly frivolously for grins, not for a living. Miles would be wise to steer clear of flat-earthers like Kirby. I, on the other hand, am on track to attend my 49th 500 this May. I could probably provide more realistic suggestions based on experience alone.
      • Oh
        So, what you're saying is Mark Miles has the standing order of protection in effect against you....you know, like when you two might meet on a ski lift, in a bathroom, at the Steak and Trough, while he's passing the rail birds..etc. Does your blog still get, like, 500 hits a day? Just like DefenderOfIRL, no one cares to look for DiscipleOFIndycar either. You're the guy in Gasoline Alley that has the blue stovepipe hat with all the Indy stickers and buttons all over it, right? Does your caregiver realize you can get off the leash?
      • Cheifs right
        Everything he's said is true. Does anyone fact check anymore? Indycar stinks and even Indy Lights stinks too. They just shelved the new chassis to 2015. Why?
      • WOW
        "EVERYONE new the risks." How the library lets you stay logged on for so long is beyond me. Are you not late for meeting with your probation officer?
      • New
        Here's something knew Indy Jeff: http://www.advanceindiana.blogspot.com/2013/02/indiana-taxpayers-forced-to-pay-for.html
      • .
        We're gonna need some tin foil hats ASAP.
      • DANIKA!
        Indy's 4th place winner DaniKa wins pole at Daytona! WooT! So, Mark Miles, what does Indy have up it's sleeve this year? More ugly cars? Hot Wheels? Cars slower than the pace car? Poison? I love how you got one of your own to take over NASCAR! Youse guys are GENIUS at marketing yourselves! Keep it up.
      • It's Working!
        Whatever it is, it certainly holds the rapt, undivided attention of your ilk. Too bad your group does not possess the maturity to act like actual racing fans.
      • I know what I'm doing!
        Not watching Indycar. That's the adult thing to do. Seriously, they got nothing going for it...
      • dw12
        I agree with every word chief spoke. Indycar is dead to me because of this flipping car. I can't help the fact that indycar management goes with the the fans hate, how else could a series choose this hideous thing, oh and get rid of the rear bumpers, looks pretty crazy as well. You better start listening, or the series WILL dry up. I am on to sportscars now anyway, and probably will never come back to indycar unless the 90's cars would re-appear.

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