Resumes don’t get much more eclectic than that of Mark Miles. He’s currently boss at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a position he has held since 2012—first under the Hulman family and now with new track owner Roger Penske. But before that, he jumped from one marquee gig to another, overseeing high-profile events that earned him a reputation as both a master organizer and an expert at putting struggling organizations on an even keel.
He learned his unique skill set when he was tapped to work on several political campaigns, including serving as campaign manager for Dan Quayle’s 1980 U.S. Senate run. After a short shift as Quayle’s chief of staff (one of the few tasks Miles thinks he failed at), he served from 1985 to 1990 as president and volunteer director of the city’s pro tennis tournament, then known as the GTE Championships. His innovations (including sweetening prize packages, mobilizing an army of volunteers and changing the playing surface from clay to hardcourt) helped the event win 10 consecutive Association of Tennis Professionals Tournament of the Year Awards.
The gigs he tackled kept getting bigger. He presided over the 1987 Pan Am Games, a massive sporting extravaganza that he and his army of volunteers pulled together in just 30 months (most host cities get six years). From 2006 to 2012, he was CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. He also served as chairman of the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee, presiding over yet another horde of staffers and volunteers who did everything from standing on street corners providing information to guests, to knitting one-of-a-kind souvenir scarfs for VIPs.
Miles thinks Indy’s ability to mobilize volunteers is the city’s “secret sauce” when it comes to making big events successful.
“This is a city that consistently over-delivers,” he said. “And I’m not just talking about sports.”