Miles completes IndyCar executive team overhaul

November 8, 2013
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C.J. ODonnellHulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles has taken nearly a year to do it, but he finally has re-organized his front office staff at the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.Jay Frye

On Thursday, Miles announced the hire of Connell J. “C.J.” O’Donnell as Hulman Motorsports’ chief marketing officer (above), and Jay Frye (at right) as the new chief revenue officer. Both will work on projects involving the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

One of Miles’ chief objectives since his own hiring in December is combining the staffs of the IndyCar Series and IMS. He seems to have that accomplished. Now we’ll see if that move results in increased sales.

Earlier this year, Miles hired Derrick Walker to oversee the competition side of the series. That move came after Miles failed to land a suitable candidate to head up the commercial and competition side. Just Marketing International CEO Zak Brown was the prime candidate to take on the dual role.

Later, Miles abandoned looking for a chief executive to oversee the commercial side of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And instead decided to re-tool his plan as his reorganization progressed.

His plan to combine the two staffs hasn't met a ton of resistance so far. Some team owners and track promoters fear the sales staff will focus on the money-making Speedway operations while neglecting the money-losing IndyCar aspects of the business.

Miles insists that won’t be the case. The structural change comes at a critical time for the series and Speedway, which are looking for a slew of new sponsors, most notably a series title sponsor to replace Izod.

Miles also wants new sponsorship skin in the game to promote the month of May at Indy, which in 2014 for the first time will include a road race in addition to the traditional Indianapolis 500 oval race. Miles said he’d consider presenting sponsors for both races and perhaps even a title sponsor for the new road race, which is now called the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

“We’ve set a new strategic direction for our motorsports entities, and Jay and C.J. are both top performers who will help us take big leaps forward,” Miles told reporters at the IMS on Thursday. “Among their immediate goals are to add sponsors for IndyCar and IMS, improve our level of fan engagement and develop strategies to build alignment among our teams, drivers, venues and sponsors. Our team is in place, and there’s no off season as we prepare for 2014.”

The honeymoon for Miles is over. He has been given a year to mold his team and activate his plan. Now it’s time to lift the fortunes of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and once and for all put the 18-year-old IndyCar Series into the black.

It’s not as if Miles hasn’t done anything in his first year at Hulman & Co. He’s secured $100 million in tax revenue over the next 20 years to make upgrades at the IMS, he’s begun to re-mold the IndyCar schedule and he’s doing his best to revive the once vibrant month of May and the NASCAR Brickyard 400 race. He’s made the bold step of putting an IndyCar race on the road course Speedway officials originally built for Formula One and is contemplating a non-points overseas mini-series during the winter months.

Perhaps most amazingly, Miles has done all these things without managing (outwardly, anyway) to upset any of the temperamental track promoters and team owners—the same team owners who ran IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard out of town after three years.

Miles seems to have two able lieutenants in O’Donnell and Frye.

O'Donnell recently served as Ford Motor Co.’s group marketing manager for electric vehicles in Detroit, where he was recognized for the launch of several hybrid vehicles and orchestrated a record year for hybrid and electric vehicle sales. During his 20-year career with Ford, he also has led marketing for the Lincoln and Jaguar brands domestically and abroad, and was a member of a small team that led the turnaround of the Mazda brand.

“There’s a lot of strength in the combined horsepower of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar,” O'Donnell said Thursday. “Initially, I'll focus my energy on a common brand and clear message for our fans. This will include working together with our key stakeholders and ensuring marketing alignment among teams, drivers, sponsors and venues.”

O’Donnell will lead a combined team of IndyCar and IMS marketing and communications staffers.

Frye led the transformation of the Red Bull Racing Team in NASCAR Sprint Cup into a contender that earned a berth in the 2009 Chase for the Championship during his tenure as vice president and general manager from 2008-11.

In addition, he spent 12 years at MB2 Motorsports LLC, a NASCAR Sprint Cup team he helped build from the ground up into a multi-car operation. As the CEO and general manager, he negotiated an industry first—a sponsorship/ownership package with The Valvoline Co.

Frye has other sales and marketing experience, including several years with Anheuser-Busch.

Frye will lead a combined team of IndyCar and IMS sponsorship sales, licensing and account services staff. IMS suite and hospitality sales will remain an IMS function under Doug Boles’ direction. Boles is IMS president.

Now that Miles has hired some solid staffers, he has to find a way to keep them. The IndyCar and Speedway sales staff has seen more than its share of turnover in recent years. That sort of instability is bound to hurt sales efforts.

Most recently, Mike Redlick, IMS’ chief sales and marketing officer, resigned. Redlick, who has nearly 15 years of experience working for NFL and NBA franchises, had only been with the Speedway since March 2011. Greg Gruning, IndyCar’s executive vice president of corporate sales and the series’ point man in brokering big sponsorship deals, resigned in late June.

  • Forward Steps
    I like the forward steps; my caution to Miles and crew would be to watch the normal tendency to take two or more steps backward. Those two fellows need to get to work immediately, however. Miles keeps pointing toward 2015. Hopefully by then they will figure out what schedule balance actually means and forge new directions. I will be watching and attending.
  • ^^^^Hahahhahaha
    The Dipscicle will keep pointing out the flaws to the IMS physical plant too. The craters in the parking lots and the inept management at 16th and Jonestown. Wait till these guys figure out what Randy Bernard figured out....the only way to market a product is to have a product to market. IMS has neither.
  • Why
    Miles And Crew Will Screw Up What Randy Started!!!!!!!!
  • The best salesmen
    in the world can't sell what people just don't want. One more futile last gasp measure by the hulmans to try and salvage what they have run into the ground.
  • breakout year
    Wow this will fur sure be the breakout year. Can't wait til 2016 when we will see the Freds muffler shop Indy 500 presented by Key Metrics powered by $150 worth of jet fuel.
  • Well Miles
    There Are Five Comments So Far And All Negative On Indy Car.... Are You Listening???
  • Disiple
    I used to think this Disiple guy was some over the top fan, now I get his shtick. He's the Stephen Colbert of indycar.
  • Dupe the Rubes
    These new guys will slither away in the night, in utter disgrace...just like all the others stuck in the IMS revolving employment door. Bank on it. They will dupe some rubes into sponsoring the series with inflated numbers...then they will report 351% ROI for their investments...then those sponsors will vanish amid the truth that the series sucks or has limitless or no following. Then resignations arrive before the firings. The DW12 and the failure of 2008 merge is the rotting albatross around their necks as they toil to market the unmarketable. So, dupe the rubes you new guys. Beat the bushes of 40+ markets in this country that IRL has soiled. Good luck with that...and let em know the spec series is still the same. Same crap, that'll sell. DEATHBLOW 2014. Bwahahahaha!
  • A Popular IRL Forem
    had zero (0) threads and zero (0) posts about the season ending IRL race somewhere out west
  • No Help
    I think the folks at IMS need to address the realities that they live in. Racing is losing its audience by leaps and bounds. All racing, not just open wheel. They need to accept that fact and try to keep what they have. I don't think any amount of extra marketing or gimmicks is going to change that. Sports fans are fickle and ever changing. Who knows, maybe racing will come back in 10-15 years, but it isn't any time soon. Work on making your product the best it can be and becoming bigger will take care of itself.
  • IMS = The Great 'Oz'
    IMS is the Great Wizard of Oz. It is the oracle of all that is AOW. They know everything...NEVER question their authority. NEVER. You see, cratered parking lots and crumbling physical plant type stuff is not things that should concern you mere mortals. The great Oz sees all, and is all. The great Oz commands you to buy tickets to events at IMS, and do so with haste. All is well...all is well. NOT. Bwahahhahahhaha!
  • What tradition?
    Pole day to be moved to late Sunday. Actually, they should just have pole day on Saturday and race on Sunday. Great job IMS, the 500 is just a race....all of it being run into the ground by Hulman Racing. I LOVE IT! They are killing it all by themselves. And the cars have got like 6 chances to get in. What a freaking joke the Indy 500 has become. FIRE Miles NOW before it's too late.
    • Great Ideas
      Well obviously somebody is using my name. Imposter! Miles was hired to try different things. Change is for the good and not stuck in 30 year old traditions that are not relevant today. What worked in past will not work tomorrow. If not are not moving forward , you are getting passed. Thus kudos to the team on 16th for at least trying something new and not thinking what worked in the 1970's and 1980's will work in 2014 and beyond.
    • Bwahahaha! Fake posts
      I'm flattered! FIRE Mark Miles because he doesn't know what Indy means. Over at 16th and Jonestown tradition is over! Wooot! Between this and the road course it's over, DEATHBLOW 2014!!!! Oh, its gonna happen...
      • The Angie's List 500 at Indianapolis Presented by Hydroxycut
        That's next. Stick a fork in 'er, racing fans. The 500 is more done than a Steak & Shake Bacon Lovers at the Noon shift change.
      • More Fake Posts
        When is this imposter going to quit? Chief has turned a new leaf and supports Mr Miles! LOVE IT bwahaahahahahahahahah..... Change is good and finally seeing some movement over at IMS!!
      • Please Anthony...
        Anthony could you please use your sign in tools/log to check to see what the REAL Chief uses to log in and comment, and then eliminate the dishonest comments from the imposter? I don't like to comment as much as it is pointless, but I sure like to read others. Whoever is acting as Chief #2 is being as dishonest as some of the reasons the IRL was launched on. I guess some of those early IRL supporters must have learned that dishonesty from all that. Thank you.
      • I agree with Carter...
        ....let's keep it real. Anthony writes a new piece about Indycar and the rest of us post our opinions. I would rather hear from the real people, even if we disagree. And, most importantly, let's not take this all too seriously. My posts are always snarky fun....but fun. Disciple even is smart enough to know that. And I don't take his snide remarks seriously. It is a blog. Let's keep it honest. Also, let's sort out rumor form fact. I have been duped too many times. Truth is, we have no idea what they are doing at W. 16th St. and we can only hope for the best. So the real Chief, please stand up. The fake on, just be yourself. We are having fun here and trading barbs about our opinions on racing.
      • Statistical Anaysis
        The following is a quick summary of the sentiments of the challenged squatters that cling to this blog like a tick to a deer: 1) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 1996.' 2) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 1997.' 3) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 1998.' 4) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 1999.' 5) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2000.' 6) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2001.' 7) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2002.' 8) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2003.' 9) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2004.' 10) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2005.' 11) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2006.' 12) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2007.' 13) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2008.' 14) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2009.' 15) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2010.' 16) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2011.' 17) 'IndyCar will be dead/out of business after 2012.' What is the common denominator: A 100% track record of incorrect predictions. If they have remained this foolish for this long there is probably no stopping such runaway denial. Safer prediction: IndyCar will never reach its full potential while governed by folks who do not understand the history of the sport and attempt to convert it all the way into a circus. And that is a shame.
      • Here's a prediction(s)
        The butt ugly DW12 car will be rolled the same boring tracks....with the same boring drivers....most of them foreign....with the same 22% drop in TV viewership...with Brian Barnhart still having a job.....with the same goofy IMS management in charge....following the same Boston Consultant group study, word for word....with the same spec chassis and engines....with the same droning low rev turbo sounds from that hideous V6 engines....with the same old bodykits. HoHumm. But, that is life in the IRL Indycar Series in 2014, and 2015, and 2016, and 2017, and 2018, and 2019. Heck it will probably going infinium for ever. Yep, go on like a lame one legged dog with the mange. Rusting, parking lots cratering, handrails cracking, code violations mounting, ADA mandates being ignored in favor of paving the road course, raw sewage running on the floors of the IMS outhouses because they too cheap to fix the pipes. Yes, I must say things are looking up over at 16th and Jonestown. And those are the positives in a glass half full. Mark Miles needs to be FIRED NOW for destroying the sacred traditions at the speedway. Brain Barnhart needs to be forced to walk the plank too. Sell the speedway to ANYBODAY who has a clue...because the current owners don't have a clue. 2014 is a transition year...a lame duck year. Just like'd that work out?
      • Definitions of Dead
        Just wanted to point out some of the definitions of "dead" is the adjective: no longer in use, valid, effective, or relevant. Also: not yielding a return. And: unsuccessful, and with little hope of future success. Fun with words!
      • The IRL has never been a business
        18 years of red ink makes it a money losing hobby. And that's the business side of things
      • Sayonara Dario-san
        Looks like the DW12, the ICONIC failure it is, took its first career. So long Dario, you made quite a sacrifice for the sport. A very wise decision. I urge you to stay involved in the IRL, perhaps in a role that represents your fellow drivers with regard to safety...just like your countryman Jackie Stewart did when walked away in 1973. There is lots of work to be done because what happened to shouldn't have happened. And you know darn well the IMS will take the cheapest non-effective way to not solve safety problems. Like inadequate fencing at a majority of tracks it races on. Or, lack of sidepods to absorb impacts like yours and Justin Wilson's. Maybe, just maybe the DW12 could have been better but it not....and it's now your responsibility to hold the speedways feet to the fire and make it right for this and future generations (if there is a future). Let that be your legacy because IMS can't be trusted to do it for you. Otherwise you might be getting in a crapwagonage again.
      • Someone Please Get Chief a Hankie
        Interestingly, all of these injuries occurred on tracks that were not ovals. That seems odd give the fear and criticism of ovals leveled over the years along with really stupid claims such as 'crash damage is more expensive' and other nonsense used to justify elimination of them from the sport. Perhaps one of Miles new third string hires could snag Dario.
      • Recent stats
        Just take the last two races in 2013. Dario at Houston...multiple broken vertebra, severe ankle/leg fractures requiring multi surgeries, and a career ending head injury. Then, on an oval in a 35mph crash difference, Justin Wilson multiple pelvis fractures. Car was split in half. Here is the real problem...the ICONIC Dallara DW12 is a design mess. It's stout, but doesn't dissipate energy enough away from the driver. It has the stupidist of sidepod designs that allow direct penetration of tub in a t bone collision. Also, because there is limited sidepod, the crash energy is transferred directly to the driver. In Dario's case, his brain. In Justin's case, his pelvis. The bumpers are worthless, and the limited sidepods create a ramp to launch these flying death traps into the fence, at slower speeds than the prior generation Dallara did, and it was an known killer. Also never discussed and swept under the rug but the great IMS. Take that $100M and fix the DW12. It's ugly, is prone to flying and splitting in half...and has already cost one IRL Indycar driver his career. I got your hankie right here....because you don't want to accept the always.
      • Come on Chief
        You know that Dallara has said the DW12 wasn't designed to be raced as it is, it was just a concept that the hobby racing league ran with.
      • Got stuck with
        ....and then no one wanted to make bodykits for em either. So, the ICONIC blunder turned out to be this DW12 POS car. Can anyone please tell me what has been done about any of this since Houston? Or, is the Speedway and Hulman Racing sweeping this under the rug too?
      • It Hinges On....
        I surmise the staff and family of Hulman Racing is anxiously awaiting your solution to this 'problem' since you know everything. When will you grace them and the unwashed masses with your classy wisdom?
        • 25/8
          Formula Necksnap strikes again. At least Dario was able to limp away. I'm hearing Special Ed in the #10 car next year if he doesn't take Perez's vacated seat at McClaren.
        • Special Ed
          done hired a European nancy boy to do his sttret racing for him
          • Classy Wisdom
            Here's what I know: the DW12 has just as much inclination to fly as the old car did. It's already been in the air at least 4 or more times since 2012. It broke in half after a 35mph t-bone. Street fencing appeared to be inadequate in Houston. Greater sidepod area to diffuse crash energy may have saved Dario from medical retirement and Justin Wilson from multiple pelvic fractures. Here's the Classy part: The Speedway should release a report on the causes of the crashes and damage to the cars. They should conclude with recommendations on what needs to be improved to prevent (or lessen) the effects of the horrific design of these cars. And then, they need to institute it, ASAP. But, in their infinite wisdom they will not address it until someone gets killed by their neglect...again. That's the Classy Wisdom you were looking for...and that's my opinion. Sorry you, Disciple, feel inferior to my opinion. Any logic based thought process would conclude the same as I about this hideously ugly and ill conceived car the IRL Indycar Series forces it's drivers into. Hey, did you see that DARIO in his farewell release NEVER mentions the IRL? He raced in the IRL...maybe he didn't thank them (IRL) for a reason? Bwahahhahahaha! Mark Miles, take note....FIRE MILES TODAY!
          • 25/8
            I thought for sure with a name like Mike Conway he had slung a sprinter around Winchester or Salem. Dang
          • He done grater than that
            he gratered it at Indy

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