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Zak Brown turns down IndyCar CEO job

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Zak Brown has turned down an offer to join the IndyCar Series, choosing instead to remain with the motorsports marketing company he founded.

Brown told The Associated Press on Tuesday he informed Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles of his decision not to take a job with IndyCar. He'll instead relocate in July to England to continue the growth of his Zionsville, Ind.-based agency, Just Marketing International.

"I'm a huge fan of IndyCar, it's a great product and it certainly would have been a great opportunity and challenge," Brown said. "I have no doubt Mark Miles and the team he forms will lead the series down a path of success — and we at JMI will continue to do our part to support IndyCar.

"I'm committed to JMI, excited about our future and therefore unable to pursue any other opportunities. Mark is fully aware of my passion for IndyCar and my desire to contribute to the series' success in any way I can, but at this time that cannot be in the CEO role."

Brown had been contemplating leaving Indiana for London when discussions began earlier this year with Miles about a potential role for Brown in IndyCar. Miles, hired late last year as head of IndyCar's parent company, had said Brown had made it clear "his only interest would be if we put the pieces together and he was the head of racing."

The courtship dragged on for months, and on Monday the series announced longtime motorsports veteran Derrick Walker had been hired as head of competition reporting directly to Miles.

Miles said he's moving forward with a plan to restructure the management flow of both IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and has chosen a model where Walker and a president of IndyCar and IMS commercial operations report directly to Miles.

That model makes Miles the de facto CEO of IndyCar.

"Obviously if those two heads are reporting to me, I expect to be hands on, focused on this and responsible for our racing," Miles said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I don't expect to take the title of CEO of IndyCar. But if you ask who is responsible for IndyCar and IMS, the answer is me."

Brown said Walker's hiring had nothing to do with his decision, nor did the way Miles has decided to structure the organization.

"I think Mark's first task at hand is getting the organizational structure correct and the right people in the right roles, and I think he's well on his way with getting good people in place," Brown said. "Certainly Derrick Walker is a highly experienced individual that can contribute to IndyCar's growth."

Miles said he's got at least three candidates he's had "some level of discussion with" for his head of the commercial division, and will continue looking for potential hires.

"This isn't starting over, we've always been working on a track where Zak was a leading contender but not the only candidate," Miles said.

When the restructuring is complete, IndyCar and IMS will have a slightly different look. Miles will be the boss, with several direct reports that include Walker, the head of the commercial division, Robby Green, who will move back to his role as head of IMS Productions, and Jeff Belskus, who will be moved from interim CEO of IndyCar and CEO of IMS into a restructured role as president of Hulman & Co.

Belskus' new responsibilities would fall under "a shared services" role as head of finances, human resources and information technology, as well as heading up Clabber Girl and Hulman & Co. real estate.

The restructuring of Belksus' position would open a hole for a new track president at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a position that will also report to Miles.

The timing of the courtship by IndyCar was complicated by the revelation in late March that Spire Capital Partners was trying to sell its 60-percent ownership stake in JMI. Spire purchased its share in 2008, and Brown still owns 20 percent along with advertising agency WPP.

Spire's desire to sell clouded JMI's future at the same time Brown was trying to make a decision about what he wanted to do with his career. Although Spire has made no announcement about its plans for JMI, Brown seemed confident Tuesday his place is leading JMI into the future.

"I have invested my entire business life into JMI, I've got great partners in Spire Capital and WPP, and the best group of employees," Brown said. "Collectively we've all turned JMI into market leaders. Motorsports and our business has never been stronger and we have some very exciting opportunities ahead of us, which gets me very excited about our future and I have a strong desire to continue to lead JMI as I've done for the past 17 years."

 


 

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  • reality
    I have just returned back to the UK where I attended the Saturday of The British Grand Prix. I worked for 10 Years in this Series before moving to the united states. I have to say whilst Open Wheel Racing is in trouble generally. F1 is in serious trouble, the majority of drivers are now bringing money to the table to be able to drive. Most of the Team members are being paid less than they were 10 years ago. The money is going to the wrong people. I have to say of the two series I would not go back to working in F1. I also work with many other drivers in other Series in the States. Racing is much more open in the US than it is in Europe.
  • What's it all about?
    IBJ hasn't written an article in over 10 days. How that for the gratest race in the universe? Not even a zip-line article. And the article before that was about Sato and Hinchcliffffee being the stories of the 6 days. And, how the speedway should pimp those guys to show how it can market drivers. Zip, ziltch, zero coverage on the 500 by IBJ. Why waste pixels and electrons I suspect is IBJ's theory...why waste them on the 500? No Tv coverage of qualifying, no bumping, nothing to cover I guess. Oh, not even SPECIAL ED coverage. You see, that's why Zak Brown turned this job down. Because indy, the IRL and now Indycar are epic failures. Pole day had about 15K in attendance, bump Day about 5K and if they had 1K all week it would be a miracle. But, taxpayers will be paying more for tix and parking next year...all so the IMS can blow $100M on amenities no one cares about. Zak....keep on running fella away from this mess.
  • Zak said no
    liek the rest of America
  • What About Zak?
    These quaint,obsessed musings by the stalkers are certainly entertaining, but I'm trying to figure out what, if anything, all the yelping below has to do with Zak Brown.
  • Aluminum...
    ...attended both days. Along with me and a couple buddies. To be honest, depsite the lousy weather, Saturday was not too bad. There was a decent crowd most of the day, "decent" being the operative/relative word here. I surmise there were 20,000 people on Saturday. But I may be generous with that. Certainly by the time this Fast 9 Fiasco hit, it was a ghost town. We stayed late for that nonesense and what a waste. Silly is as silly does. Sunday was Siberia at Speedway. The only thing that got bumped was a trash barrel I backed in to at the end of the day, laughing with my buddies at the lack of crowd. No damage to the 'ol Suburban, or the can for that matter, but plenty of damage to the old Speedway this month. Ain't nobody a-carin'. Ed who says the rest fo the world? Special Ed, says I. As is in Special Honda. And even that was almost too much to ask of the Sagamoreorless's privileged prince. This thing is all but done. I look forward to the race, though. Plenty of room to stretch out over there in T3. Leg room a-plenty as this year's race is, SURPRISE, far from a sell-out. DISCIPLESS? Where are all those "hidden" target demo-ey, key metric-ey mega-fans that you tekk us about, boy? Oh, I know. They were not there because they were all out at the Mall and in stores around the country buying/supporting the products of all those sponsor-spens-aholics who are knocking down doors to get in on this incredible Indy 500 action. They'll all be there on race day or at home watching on super-secret TV's only IndyCar insiders can monitor. There are millions of them. I mean, listen to the buzz today about Katherine Legge getting into the show on "BUMP DAY". Now I see why they call it "bump day." Baaaaaahwwaaahhhaaaaaaa!!!!
  • Dash for cash or whatever they call it...
    Did ya hear this...the big Indy 500 qualifications "shootout" was pre-empted for some Preakness post-race show? Apparently incidental random cable viewers passing the hardly watched NBC Sports Network were redirected to the internet stream at Indycar.com to find the coverage that followed the Fast 9 shootout that determined the pole position. This sport, in the eyes of all fans is almost non-existant. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Great job Tony George, great job.
  • Robin agrees, 4 days tops
    See, I told u Indyman and Dipsicle....this 8 days is overkill. It's barely worth a weekend....great job Tony George! Your dream has been fulfilled....he fans want the I r l back. Thats how good it was.....and that sucked.
  • Great Excitement at the track today
    Pimlico
  • Tiny is busy checking out the plans
    for the 24 degrees banking and the tri-oval on what used to be the back stretch
  • 33 is just a number
    So is ten percent. Less. And 0.18. Rating. And 200. Fans. And 0. Interest. Discipless? Got your ears on, boy? Tell us why we are wrong. Tell us about all the hidden fans. Oh, I know. They are under the grandstands because of the oppressive 78 degree heat.
    • Thursday yawn at IMS
      I'm here at the IMS and it's so boring that I might as well wade back into the discussion. This place really does look run down and the crowd is well...there's no crowd and this is 2 days before quals. I'm sitting in a Turn 2 suite and there have been about 10 people in and out today. Speaking with folks here, there's not the enthusiasm I've experienced in years past It's almost robotic. Use to be 50,000+ fans wandering around on this day. Now there are barely a few thousand. But then, there's no excitement on who will make the race because every car who signed up will make the race this year. And 230mph? Uh, I don't think so. I'm not hating on the 500, just really sad to see its popularity "fade" right before my eyes.
    • key metrics indeed
      All the money brought in by those legions of invisible fans Defender keeps mentioning have help pay the cost of removing all those pesky empty seats.
    • Discipless is irked...
      ...because I took all of about ten minutes out of my full day at IMS the other day to count less than 200 fans in attendance. That irks him because he knows my numer is true. He was there. All those people in Gasoline? He knows darn well three out of four are personnel or related in some fashion to the teams. Hangers-on. The Indianapolis 500 finally turned in to a "race meet". Everything is in place but the "SCCA" stickers on the cars. My neighbor was there yesterday. He said the same thing I did. "Maybe two hundred people in the stands." Ha! Discipless, tots out he's been around since 1959 and practice was always like that. Worng! Boy, I've been going there since 1980 and boy, I'm here to tell you there were Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings with easily two or three thousand people milling around and bus loads of school kids. Saw one school bus load the other day. One. Used to be dozens. Also of note: The grounds are in terrible shape. Everything is beat up and tin-roof rusted, boy. Tin-roof rusted. Discipless, all the money coming in from those amazingly stout "hidden demographics" should help pay for upkeep right? Or should the taxpayers toss in? What about more than 33 cars, Discipe? I thought things were rosy? You know, sponsor-spend, ket metrics, and other assorted gobbeldy-gook right? 33 cars vying for 33 starting positions in front of 200 people. The glorious "Month of May". Oh well, after this year's disaster, there will be but three more.
    • Amerika
      The natural progression of the sport....it's DNA per se, was severed. Back in 1996. The folks in charge doesn't have no clue. Look, the pot headed fans the aren't the doofy fans of old, they are the pot smokers of today. Wow man, the beer stand is still open to the right of the behind the Padgoda stage doooooude. Get me a 32 oz.er dude. This mummy band is smokin;"...
    • It's dead, Hoosiers
      Burl is right. The 500 is dead and living on borrowed time. The $100 million the idiots in the legislature forked over is living proof. They'll waste it and then they'll shut down because the problem isn't lights...the problem is that America is only big enough for one racing series and, like it or not yokels, that series is NASCAR. They ran circles around IndyCar. It's really quite embarrassing because we had a better product, but it was mismanaged and now it is too late to save it.
    • Fewer Seats
      Discipless, why did IMS stop at tearing down the seats over in T3. There are so many in that area of the track that go unused. Last year there were literally dozens and dozens of rows around us without fan to fill. If they were serious, they would reduce the capacity to about 100,000 seats. That is what they will get in attendance soon. Not this year, but soon. NOBODY seems to care anymore. Maybe they'll make that 100th Indy 500 in 2016 and then close up shop, which I heard tell this week, may in fact be the plan. Sure, its paddock fodder and we'll take it for what it is worth, but that was the word.
    • “I've got a great job and a great team here,” he said.
      as opposed to over "there"
    • Fast Fading
      The only thing I've heard related to IRL except reading this blog is that Danicle's and Ashley divorced their husbands and are shacking up
    • Words of Wisdom From An Actual Fan
      Clearly some get it and some don't. Burl, when will your bombastic indignation lead to a non-hypocritical scenario in which this place that so seemingly offends your delicate sensibilities not be graced with your presence? And can someone link me to any thing resembling a quote from Zak Brown that he turned down the IndyCar position because IndyCar 'sucks?' Anyone?
    • Where's the beef?
      You guys crack me up. You are so into it. And so in denial. Look around here today, Discipless. Ain't a-nobody here and ain't a- nobody be carin'. Don't drop practice day crowd drivel on me, boy. This is my 34th straight year here and I have NEVER seen such a lack of enthusiasm in Indianapolis, either at the track or on the streets, boy. In fact, we are leaving in a little while because this is just plain boring. Best thing we have seen is the Saveedra deal. This series sucks so bad the little plastic wrappers come off the big go karts. Truth hurts. 2013 marks the year Indy is esssentially over with. Oh, they may have a few more, but it is a minor league event now, boy.
    • What time is Curt Bushes practicing?
      No one criticized Zak Brown for not taking the job. Some of you paid speedway propagandists need to understand that. He didn't take it simply because Indycar sucks. You can't handle the truth...he didn't want to be tied to the Indy drek. And, what is the point for days of practice? All they are working on is a stable raceday setup...and even thats stupid because it's 60 out and raceday it'll be 90. Duh... I don't need apologies Indyman, the sucksess of this series provides me with the justification and satisfaction that no apology could ever offer. HaY, when they gonna start the marketing effort? We are Day 4 of 8 and there is NOTHING in my local or national news report except Curt Bushes from NASCAR. Oh, the finals are in for Brazil....stellar TV rating IRL fans...you should be so proud!
    • Fully Credentialed And Having A Wonderful Time
      Haters be hating. You know, it is downright amusing to note the differences in perception between an actual racing fan (me) and a non-fan (Burl). Me? I stop by garages and talk to teams, stroll pit lane with the camera, find fellow race fans in the stands and have conversations, and enjoy watching the teams work themselves up in speed. I have a wonderful time every day that I am there. I don't really notice the crowd (or lack thereof) until they get in my way (usually in the back of the pagoda). Burl, on the other hand, acts as if the lack of a crowd on a practice day is something that is a recent phenomenon. In his world perhaps it is. As someone who has been there since 1959, most practice days throughout history are what he laments. And why would anyone go to that track and count people? That is just about the most stupid thing I have ever read here. As a racing fan, I still feel the thrill and excitement, and understand the year and century in which we dwell, and how the entire world has changed. Some know what Indy means and some keep fighting against it. Why? That's God's own private little mystery.
    • I agree!
      After reading Indyman's comment I had to login just to say that I agree that using the term fast fading is wrong. If you just go by the list he came up with to show the term fast fading can be used to describe NASCAR then using those same measurements in reverse can only mean that Indycar has already faded. I guess that means it can't fade too much further. Or, something. While the defenders of the 500 and IndyCar series mock the haters like they think Chief and Burk are, they seem to gloss over their favorite race and series considerable issues. All one needs to do is to follow Anthony's blog to see much of what he writes is in relation to what IMS can do to right the ship. At least someone is being realistic. And no...I am not saying it is dead. Just slowly faded. It took about 16 years to get there.
    • It must be May in Indy, because the haters are out in force trying their best to Indycar. It is unfortunate that Zak Brown turned down the job. Of course to have Derek Walker as the first alternate is not a bad consulation prize. Zak would have brought an amazing marketing mind and a client book that is second to none. Derek brings a wealth of racing knowledge and experience. He will do well. I love reading the haters who will alternately bash Zak, bash JMI, and then say that he never really considered the job etc... It never ceases to amaze me that the haters feel they can read the minds of others. Anyone who has followed Zaks career knows that he is not one to pat you on the back to make you feel good. His clients depend on him to make good decisions, and everything he says means something. I love how the haters continue to say Indycar is "fast fading". I also love that type of terminology has changed from the Indycar is going out of business in 2005, 2006, 2007 etc.... I would believe that fast fading would be referenced to a series that is losing a long time supplier, like Nascar losing Dodge. I would think you would say a series that is losing so many fans that they are removing seats by the tens of thousands like NASCAR. I would think it would refer to a series that no longer issues attendance figures for races even though they did during the good years, like Nascar. Yep, I get a laugh out of the desperate rantings of the haters who struggle to try to find negative things to say about Indy. I look forward to some of the great storylines woven into this years race. Will we have another 4-time winner. Will one of several talented female drivers win Indy? How will this talented crop of rookies do, including Conor Daly? Can Sato win the 500 after last years close race and make huge international headlines. Will Chief get his personal apology from TG for ruining his life? These questions will play out over the next couple of weeks.
    • Where are the fans?
      I am here at IMS right now, in the infield, with my camper. Just a fun day outing at the Speedway for old times sake, becuase there is really nothing compelling going on. The cars are all the same, ugly, and everyone seems so slow. There is nothing, NOTHING but bare aluminum, rust-backed, all around. There are about 8 or 10 people milling about on the Third Turn mounds. A walk over to the pit seats indicates maybe, MAYBE, a hundred fifty people. This place has zero atmosphere here this year. ZERO. No way Disciple can defend this ghost town. It is empty, boring, and dull. It very much resembles a private tire test, with just a handful of people who ordinarily would not be there. Seriously, I see more crowd and atmosphere at Mid-Ohio. The old "500" is done as anything remotely big. Thanks, INDYCAR! You have about killed it.
    • Chief
      Chief Even Robin Miller would say you are full of old motor oil. I would of thought your name would be mentioned as a person who is the savior for Indycar as much BS as you have put on these blogs the past 3 years. Keep on hating chief, and don’t read about this stuff if your not interested – and most of all don’t attend the 500 or watch any Indycar race from now on – hypocrite
    • Let's reduce Indy to 4 Days
      Yep, one long weekend. There is little significance in the same spec cars warming up for seven days before the former big 500. Get folks in town and keep em there. Zak knows why the grandstands are empty...speedway lackeys and yes-men don't see it, but it's coming...
      • Why Aren't F-1 'Fans' Paying Attention to That Instead?
        OK....so it's NOT going out of business. What's the problem?
      • Face it Bro
        Zac Brown knows this whole deal was crap, I'm surprised he found the business PR-speak to say politely thanks but no thanks. 8 days of May, 0.18 TV ratings on a tv channel no one watches, storylines not even close to making heroes out of Sato, Hinchcliffe, or the in-the-tow hero...some guy from Columbia. So Disciple, no one questions your love of the sppedway and the 500...and your enjoyment of it. But, face facts friend...this thing can linger for decades on the taxpayer dollar, death is not imminent. However, the pain and suffering is on public display and few with their heads in the sand will ever recognize the epic failure the series and the 500 has become. Who's next to be the savior of the sport? Someone better quick get a post up on social media....that'll take care of it.
      • When Will It All Translate into 'Out of Business?'
        The 12+ overnights seem to be big with this crowd. If what you are seeing there seems troubling, how on earth is the NHL staying in business? LOL.
      • Fingers, Toes and Such
        Let me get this straight Burl. You went to IMS and counted people in the stands? That seems a few degrees beyond depraved. What purpose does that serve? And how is what you 'found' different than a practice day for, say, the Daytona 500 or any other race? You kids seem to be desperately reaching. That is pretty symptomatic of May with your kind. The closer to race day the more desperate the off topic blathering. Hope you otherwise enjoyed yourself. I certainly am.
      • Criteria? Sure...
        Disciple, to be specific, I posted the term "fast-fading" as it describes IndyCar's constantly decreasing popularity/share of interest amongst all US racing fans - with the most sought after demographic of 18-35yrs showing the least and fastest declining interest based on TV/broadcast ratings, weak advertiser and sponsorship support, race attendance and social media trending. To substantiate my criteria, please know I have 35+ years in the marketing/media business, am an Indy native, AOWR fan (missed 2 Indy 500s since '64) and have researched the depersonalized ratings, sponsor packages, local/national advertising rates and other data (criteria) needed to make my "fast fading" claim. The numbers do not lie, IndyCar has a product that for the past 5 years has not evidenced a marketable appeal to the younger age groups such that they fan follow the racers, the cars/teams or the series sponsors. Lest you think me a nay-sayer, I'm darn sad to report these facts and not versed enough in the business of racing to offer workable solutions.
      • Since when...
        ...did the week leading up to the single weekend of qualifying at IMS turn into a private testing session, Disciple? You have all the inside baseball. Tell us. I see a lot of bare aluminum, some of which is being torn down, at the rusty old joint. I was there yesterday, Disciple. Don't tell a whopper like you usually do now, those who were not. About Noon, I counted 164 people in the stands behind the pits. One Hundred Sixty-Four. When I left at 5 PM, there were fewer. Happy Hour was elsewhere, I guess.
      • It's 2013. Not 1995.
        I choose to live in the current century, and my expectations match the year we are actually in. And it certainly beats actually being out of business. Twice.
      • LOL@Depnder
        Hey Mr all is fine, take a look at top three story headlines to the left of this one. Would you say this mess is on the upswing.
      • Fast Fading
        Oh maybe TV rating dropping 20% a year for the last three years. But I'm sure you have some long winded blather as to why thats a good thing. Got your FREE tickets to the 500 from Kroger yet? I remember when the wait list for tickets to forever but I'm sure thats a good thing as well.
        • Question For The Business Experts Lurking Here
          What specific criteria constitutes 'fast fading?'
        • Zak would never have gone back
          I was surprised Zak Brown even considered an executive position with IndyCar. Yes, he's leaving for London to cozy up with Bernie "The Little Dictator" Ecclestone so as to raise his piece of the world's most profitable racing series...and possibly get in line for a top position with Formula One - as Bernie's not getting any younger. Mark Miles sure wasted a lot of time courting Zak at a time when IndyCar needs to get its executives in place to start working on a realistic plan to save this fast-fading racing series.
        • Oh No! The Sky Is Falling Again! LOL
          Wonder whether the following statement makes Zak a liar, or merely that the obsessed trying to flog this story into news that portends doom remain as clueless as ever? 'I'm a huge fan of IndyCar, it's a great product and it certainly would have been a great opportunity and challenge.' Brown said. 'I have no doubt Mark Miles and the team he forms will lead the series down a path of success — and we at JMI will continue to do our part to support IndyCar.'
        • JMI Is A Winner
          Suspect Zak Brown/Just Marketing International is busy targeting IMG Motorsports clients like NHRA & NASCAR with the turmoil caused by news of IMG Worldwide being broken up in pending sale over antitrust issues. http://www.forbes.com/sites/darrenheitner/2013/04/14/caa-and-lagardere-eyeing-sports-expansion-with-img-worldwide-on-the-market/
        • Why would he want it
          Why on earth would Brown want this job? Anyone smart enough to fix this mess(which I doubt can be fixed) would turn and run from the job as fast as he could. This job is a no win situation, you inherit a series with 2nd rate stars about to retire, a field of no names set to take over, a crap TV deal with years left on the contract, a bunch of races that now have race day attendance below what Friday attendance used to be and on top of all that your boss is the Hulman-George family. Taking that job would be the kiss of death to someones reputation and everyone knows it. Give the entire mess back to Tony so he can finally kill it, he needs to be at the helm at the bitter end as he started this "Vision"
        • Scratch that savior...
          So that's one savior saying you aint worth saving, I'm off the England to support a real series, F1._______ Now, I'm waiting on that other savior news... You know, the news that Audi isn't foolish enough to run in the series that destroyed AOWR either. Run away, everyone. Run FAR, FAR away from the .1rl. :lol:
        • Randy Bernard was RIGHT, Zac knows it too
          "One of the lessons I’ve learned in sports is that mediocrity does not sell. It doesn’t sell to the fans and it doesn’t sell to the sponsors. If you don’t represent the best in the world, your success rate is probably around 10 percent." -Randy Bernard http://billingsgazette.com/sports/rodeo/bernard-leaves-imprint-on-pbr/article_ccef7e6c-213d-571a-af2c-2005302e1d73.html#ixzz2THvWBXtV

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