Miles eyes lights for Speedway, postseason for IndyCar

December 12, 2012
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If I had any doubts that Mark Miles will usher in change for the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, they were wiped away after an hour-long question-and-answer session I had with the new Hulman & Co. CEO last week.

Miles, 59, isn’t sure how long he’ll be at Hulman & Co., but said, “to make a dent in something like this I think three to five years is the absolute minimum.” He officially takes his new post Dec. 17.

While Miles said his first priority is to grow the series, there’s no doubt he plans to do the same for the IMS. And growth means change.

After the interview, my feelings were strengthened that Miles not only will hire a new series CEO (there had been some talk about Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus continuing in that position), but also construct a whole new management team to oversee growth at the open-wheel series.

“[The IndyCar Series CEO job] has been identified as an interim responsibility, and that’s to make the point that while [Belskus is] in charge right now, it’s possible, and maybe likely, that eventually there will be another approach to the structure or to the staffing,” Miles said.

Miles will be careful and calculated, but I expect him to have the IndyCar staff overhauled by July. For the record, Miles doesn't see Tony George taking a management position with IndyCar or the IMS.

It’s clear that the buck for all matters pertaining to the series and Speedway will stop on Miles' desk.

During our conversation, Miles, who will work out of the Speedway’s corporate office at 16th Street and Georgetown Road, was not hesitant to weigh in on any number of topics concerning the Speedway’s infrastructure and operations. He didn’t talk like someone interested in deferring or deflecting questions—or responsibilities.

Miles admits he’s more willing than the Hulman-George family that owns the facilities to break from tradition. There’s no doubt, if he can find a way to pay for lights, he’ll have them installed at the Speedway in short order and make the Brickyard 400 a night race.

“If you are talking about the Brickyard [400] and fans believe it’s too hot, that would provide some relief,” Miles said. “There’s some evidence we’re getting that a night race distinguishes itself from day races [and] is a point of differentiation that can add to audience value on television. It’s likely in my view that we’ll conclude that if we can figure out a way to add lights out there it could add real value.”

Miles won’t hesitate to make other improvements to the Speedway.

“The facilities matter. If you think of any major, successful professional event or high-level collegiate event, the facility has a lot to do with the vitality of the event aesthetically and for the fan experience and economically,” Miles said. “So we’ll have to think about investments out there.”

Miles has no interest in focusing on the series’ and Speedways’ baggage.  Open-wheel fans, past and present, awaiting an apology for Indy Racing League’s split from CART in the 1990s can probably forget about it.

“The trick is to have a fresh set of eyes come to this and not let the past—in fact, not [being] interested in continually digging up the past—but looking forward and yet doing that in a way that appreciates the culture.” Miles said.

The trick in looking to the future for Miles will be to find a way to bring back hard-core racing fans still upset over the split without dredging up the ugly past.

IndyCar fans will likely see schedule tweaks for the 2013 season, but in 2014, I expect to see major changes including some type of post-season structure.

During the interview, Miles mentioned the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup and NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup as models the series might mimic.

Miles thinks the series could be out of the red (for the year) in the near term. But he has no intention of stopping there.

“It’s going to be sustainable financially with another race, perhaps, or another sponsor or two,” Miles said. “That’s the base line. Our objective is to grow it in a very significant way. That’s going to take a little bit of time and hitting on all cylinders.”

One of Miles’ biggest long-term challenges will be advising the Hulman-George family on passing Hulman & Co. to the next generation and making sure the company has the right leadership to help it grow.

While Miles said those decisions ultimately remain with the family, there’s little doubt his counsel will be called upon.

“In the end, if a venerable firm is going to succeed over time from generation to generation, it has to be a meritocracy,” Miles said. “The idea is, you have to have the absolute best people available running the company and in all the key seats.

“There’s real talent in the [Hulman-George] family,” but the family might find it better to have an outsider run the company, he said.

“One of the first things I did was meet with the next generation on the day of the announcement of me taking the position. And I’m going to meet with them regularly for two reasons; to see how I can help them and help and aid in their development. Secondly, to see what I can learn from them.”

Ultimately, Miles may have to teach the younger members of the Hulman-George clan that running the racing empire is something that needs to be earned and that it’s not an entitlement to be inherited.

To see the full question and answer with Miles click here.

  • Nope, not the guy either
    Attendance for the 400 was high even on very hot days, and an IndyCar "playoff" is impossible with a 16-race schedule. Harder still even if they add races. They still don't get it.
      Will someone please tell Mr. Miles that IndyCar does not need or want a "post season." To even insinuate IndyCar may implement a change like that just shows how out of touch Mr. Miles is with the fanbase.
      • How long before the desperaton...
        ...move of having the Indianpolis 500 at night? The Stinkyard is a bowl floater and installing lights to run the thing for "audience value" or whatever Biz 101 gobbeldy-gook this latest clown on the scene comes up with is a waste of money. One of the main reasons NASCAR's hardcore, loyal fans that have supported the sport for so long finally turned away was all the gimmickry and goofy contrivances. I see this guy hasn't learned that. And playoffs? Playoffs? Forget it. The Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar racing are essentially finished.
        • No POSTSEASON!
          Just because NASCAR does something doesn't mean INDYCAR must rip it off. Miles has no idea how unpopular that would be with the few fans left.
        • Miles to go before we race
          I'm by no means an expert in this field, but I've been 57 Indy 500s and nearly all the Brickyard 400s. I've seen the F1 racesa and the Moto GP. My take on this is that any new executive who has the skills of Mark Miles needs to look at anything and everything that helps the product become more attractive and salable. The public nature of the sport and the iconic IMS makes for a lot of interest and opinion. Mine is that Mark Miles needs some time to look at his new shop and to find new ways to make the product better; one that will inkindle a new spark of interest.
        • Optimistic
          Anyone that knows Mark understands that he will deliver in a big way. I personally know Mark and cant wait to see the next 3-5 years unfold. His greatest gift is bringing people together for the good of everyone and he is a big thinker that knows how to overcome hurdles.
        • Wow...
          Contrary to the comments posted here by the "die-hard" fans, Miles sounds like he is doing what needs to be done: thinking of ways to find NEW fans. "Die-hard" fans are, to put it very bluntly, dying off -- with fewer people to replace them. We see the same thing happening in the arts and member-joining organizations. Those groups are finding new ways to engage younger people who would otherwise think such things are irrelevant. I am 50 years old and am pleased to see that someone is taking a fresh approach. My only hope is that the approach ends up firmly re-establishing the 500 (and IndyCar) as the pre-eminent racing circuit in North America.
        • Full Attendance for Indy
          Miles, Indy has always honored the Armed Forces. Use turn 3 to provide tickets for those in uniform @ no charge. Other friends and family can purchase extra ticket at very modest price and fill the place up. Concession sales will grow the bottom line and the PR would be fantastic. Market test for first year and refine as go forward approach. Just an idea. When the stands aren't packed it seems disrespectful to such a great facility.
        • NASCAR @ night?
          There is nowhere in his interview that he spoke of lighting the "Indy 500", just the Brickyard 400. Because of Indy's placement on the NASCAR schedule, the heat has always been a factor in attendance and the idea might be what the race needs, still finishing early enough in the evening for fans to vacate the area, but missing the heat of the day. NASCAR's main problem lately is simple, ticket prices when times are tough. Reducing ticket prices fills more seats, the movie theaters figured it out, now it's racings turn. bob.
        • IMS You Messed Up!!!
          Randy Was The Best!!! Now You Are Going Back The The IRL Days!!! (Indy Ruining League) No Wonder You Lose Money And Wreck Indy Car!! God Bless The Best Run Organization NASCAR One Family And A Well Run Ship!!!!
        • Post Season!
          Please, no post season gimmicks for IndyCar. It's not needed and not wanted.
        • Speedway baggage, past and present
          Mr. Miles, speedway baggage IS it's history and forgive me if I DON'T genuflect in your presence. The mere fact that you are prepping the next gen of Hulman-George's is appalling. But of course, we are not allowed to look backwards for guidance...the eyes so new they are forbidden to see the hideous reflection of the horror that is AOW and IMS today. Look pal, you are starting off on the wrong typical 16th and Jonestown style. The past IS important, it's how you got here. And, why I predict you won't be able to do anything to make it better. Seeing as you haven't come to realization yet that the DW12 is the ugliest unappealing piece of garbage ever, then I have full confidence this will amount to nothing but you padding the retirement account for yourself. Go get 'em tigerrrr...walk tall and carry a big stick, friend. These are un-friendly waters you are 'a sailing and it appears you aren't taking prisoners. Neither do we.
        • Skippy
          Easy there Turbo. Don't read my comments then. But you really want to. I get that. And a part of you, a small part of the already small Disciple too, knows that I am right. Ouch.
        • Remember 1995
          When Indy Car Was Strong, Attendence Was Excellent Intrest Was Supreme..... Well Those Days Are Gone Because Of You IMS Board And Your Idiot Decisions!!! Which Is What You Will Always Continue To Do!!! Bye Bye Indy Car Hello Nascar!!!!
        • Hmmm.. Sounds familiar
          "Miles thinks the series could be out of the red (for the year) in the near term. But he has no intention of stopping there." ________ I recall the last guy (who was fired btw) saying put near the exact same thing when he was hired. It didn't quite work out how he planned though...
        • Hard-core fans?
          These so-called hard-core long-time IndyCar fans crack me up. Don't you get it? There aren't enough of you to support this sport as a top-tier sport. So Miles will probably be willing to risk ticking you off or even losing your loyalty to go after a broader, richer audience. If you want a glance into Miles' mindset here it is: If you like the changes I make, great. If not, adios. Because with or without you, this sport is moving forward. It can't afford to stand still.
        • No apology
          Has been one if not the biggest mistake these idiots will ever make. Most of the hard core CART/CC fans are gone to Bernieland and Sportscars me included. Shut it dowm and let the grown ups re start it.
        • Miles will
          Maybe Mark Miles is new to indy racing, but my bet is that he will revitalize the sport, the fan base, and the speedway. Mark Miles will work double time to make the league work, even if it takes a minute for him to learn the nuances of the task at hand. Leaders are quick studies. This is good for racing and good for Indy. Yeah, I'm a mark miles fanboy.
        • Revival of IMS
          Mark, it is a pretty simple thing to grow the attendance. First you bring the snakepit back to turn one because when you had a full house for pole day qualifications, carb day and hugh crowds for practice and race day the majority of the people came out to watch the crazies in the snake pit not so much the cars on the track. The track infield is to clean for the young people to come out and have fun. The track is catering to the wealthy and there isn't enough of them that are interested in the sport to fund it. Next you need to get drivers who have names people can pronounce and are Americans and the cars need to have engines that fans can relate to. We don't need another Formula 1 we need american designed, made and maintained race cars and rules that let the teams run what they can bring to the track. I remember when you would have many different types and designs of race cars competing. You need to look outside of the current box and back inside some of the old boxes that actually worked.
        • Indianapolis 500 is like Kentucky Derby
          Old, quaint, classic, long on tradition, and extraordinary. A one a year event of intrigue, passion, color, and excitement. Then forgotten until the next one. That is the Indianapolis 500. That is the Kentucky Derby. They don't let Justin Beiber sing "My Old Kentucky Home." The jockey's don't act like MTV punks. People still go in droves, in hats and neckties, and drink Mint Julips and celebrate. The rest of the year, Horse Racing is what? The Triple Crown and and meets at places like Del Mar. When was ther last time you heard anybody around the water cooler talk about some jocky or horse in the Preakness? IndyCar Racing is like Horse Racing. IMS is Churchill Downs. Neither are mainstream sports. Neither are going to compete with the nog boys of sports for average person on the street. The average person on the street is either a non-racing fan altogether or maybe knows something about "NASCAR." But they are not a racing fan and you can't make the sport hip and cool to get them. If Miles is as smart as he is decribed, he'll recognize the uniqueness of IMS and the "500" for its place in the grand American story and proceed accordingly. Corporate gobbeldy-gook and Wall St. -style thinking will only further erode the place and the event. Miles and the fans who somehow think they can turn IndyCar racing and the "500" into the cool thing and have millions of followers are incredibly naieve. The Indianapolis 500 is an annual cultural sporting event, supported by a small, niche sport of modest interest. That is not going to change, especially in this century. Stop being naieve.
        • Miles down the road...
          ...Mark Miles will once again prove his skills as a master debater by showing how much he can spin the propaganda machine while producing NO results...the man is all hat, no cattle just like his Republicon buddy Mitch can expect MUCH propaganda from the man but noting to show for it at the end of the day, oh look something shiny over there!
        • The Kentucky Derby
          The Kentucky Derby Takes 2 Minutes To Run. It Happens Once A Year In Front Of Thousands At Churchill Downs... The Indy 500 HAD That Electricity, IT TOOK THE LAME IMS BOARD 14 YEARS TO TEAR THE INDY 500 DOWN AND INDY CAR ITSELF AND IT WILL NEVER EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SELL THE SPEEDWAY!!!!
        • At any rate...
          ...things suck so bad around this sport it is without a doubt, a piece of stink. Negative, sick, ugly, and dying. It truly is a stink pile.
        • Other Good Venues
        • Cha-cha-cha-changes!
          Lights at IMS? Make the Brickyard a Night Race? Good ideas. Can you say The 24 Hours of Indianapolis? Now tear those golf holes outta the infield & build a real road course! I'd make a field trip down to Austin ASAP
        • Speedway Indiana
          Where Racing Used To Be Tradition!!! Inovative!!!! And Very Crowded!!!! So Long Suckers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        • Obviously Not Paying Attention
          Nathan, if you have been paying attention you would know that attendence at the Brickyard has been falling off since the first race here. If IndyCar decides to go to a playoff system they would have more than 16 races. Duh!!!!!!
        • What Fanbase!
          The fanbase is shrinking quickly! If IndyCar keeps doing the same thing,you will be the only one left in the "fanbase"
        • Fan Base!!!!!!!!!
          The Fan Base Is Going To Be So Small In 2013 They Will Only Need One Fan Mister To Keep Them Cool At The Races!!!!!!!
        • MILES!!!!!!
          NOT MANY IN INDY CAR!!!!
        • Obama!!!!!
          The Next CEO At Indy Car!!! He Can Screw Up A Country And Indy Car At The Same Time!!!!
        • Gun Control!!!
          GUN CONTROL BEGINS AT HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        • Huh?
          Yes u are right. Don't change anything! Huh? What era or world are u living in...Lights at the Speedway would be super cool and it said nothing about moving the 500 to night race. New is good...
        • Re: Miles vision to expand Speedway & the Series
          I don't understand all the negativity aimed at Mark Miles. The guy's been SUCCESSFUL in everything he's done. Am I pissed that they FIRED Randy? Hell YES I am, but I've been an IndyCar fan since 1960 and I'm just NOT willing to write this guy off as a FAILURE! The family's GOT to listen to someone. They've GOT to increase revenues into the Speedway which will trickle into the Series. So I'm just not understanding why everyone's written the Series off already? Last year was THE BEST YEAR of IndyCar racing in YEARS! You may think the DW12 is FUGLY, but it's pretty IMPRESSIVE on the track. MORE PASSES for the LEAD... (on track)than EVER before, and the Series is boring? I think that it MAY seem that way to the HARDCORE critics of the series like y'all here, but to the "Average Viewer" they're seeing all the EXCITEMENT on the track. NBCSN, although at present has LOW ratings, that's GOING to CHANGE! NBC's got the $$$ to BUILD a Sports Network similiar to ESPN, as well as the WANT to do it as well. They're pouring a lot of money into their content. (eg:f1, ICS, Contracts with CONFERENCES to carry their games etc...) They're REALLY getting involved, but you can't expect a Network that's ONE year old, to be an ESPN... to think that just doesn't make sense. NBCSN has to SELL themselves and their concept to ALL the different Sports Leagues and Conferences. ESPN's had a 40 yr head start on NBCSN. I'm NOT willing to write them off just yet. Let's FACE IT and say that we ALL KNOW that Bernie Ecclestone (Love him or Hate him) is a VERY shrewd business man. How many times have you seen him do something STUPID that would in turn HURT F1? Obviously, Bernie sees EXPANSION for F1 with NBCSN or he wouldn't have signed that HUGE contract to move ALL F1 races from Speed to NBCSN! Let's wait and see what and how this plays out.

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