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Archive for the tag “Robby Greene”

Where’s the noise? – the silence of IndyCar management.

Listen.  Can you hear anything?  I know, Robin Miller is still rattling some cages in “Miller’s Mailbag,” and Track Forum is always Track Forum: someone is always saying something over there.  But other than the recent test at Barber Motorsports Park, what is there to talk about?

And yes, I see the irony in my managing to write about the fact that there really isn’t anything about which to write.  The question is whether that is a good thing or not.  I believe there are two schools of thought on the subject.

The first school of thought is the drone of the dour doubters on “Miller’s Mailbag” and at Track Forum.¹  From their point of view, the silence of the post Randy Bernard regime is borderline criminal.  How can the series grow if the leaders of the series are not constantly out promoting the product?  My god, we are up the creek in a barbed-wire canoe!  We are going straight to a hell where we will be forced to watch NASCAR and listen to Darrell Waltrip tell us how that series invented the breaded tenderloin and steering wheels!  This school of thought sees a Hindenburg of a series just tossing the mooring lines out at Lakehurst, New JerseyOh, the humanity!

The other perspective is a little more restrained.  They see the silence of the management team as a sign that a deliberate and thoughtful plan is in place to move the series forward that does not include the bosses being the story.  Randy Bernard’s popularity with the fans (which was much deserved) stuck in the craw of some of the drivers who believed (and rightly so) that they were the stars of the series.  This new low-key style was played out at Barber this week when a decidedly unpublicized meeting took place with Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, IndyCar CEO Jeff Belklus, and IndyCar COO Robby Greene meeting with IndyCar drivers and team principals.  This would have been press conference material in the recent past.  The agenda would have been leaked and dissected before the event.  Interviews and comments about the meeting would have found their way into Curt Cavin’s “Pit Pass” as well as a snarky column from Robin Miller.  This year?  Crickets.  No press release, no leaks, no videos, no snarky comments.  What in the world is going on here? This may be a sign that IndyCar is becoming  a serious business.  The focus was on the product.

In any case, it appears that a new management model is in place.  That may be good news for IndyCar, but it is absolute hell on bloggers who need the series dysfunction that had become the norm so we have something about which to write.  A successful IndyCar series would silence the snark.  So come on, IndyCar people, do something stupid.  I cannot keep writing about nothing.  This is not Seinfeld, you know.


1.  I love “Miller’s Mailbag” and Track Forum.  And I’m not just saying that so the maniacs there don’t feel the need to verbally attack me here, although that would make a lot of sense.  The fact is we need the maniacal and the fanatical.  Every sports entertainment property needs the hard-core fans.  They are the sourdough needed to make new bread.  You have to have yeast, and I am sure there are very doughy body types single finger typing behind those 10-year-old HP computers.  I appreciate the passion.  We need more of it.

The Big Kahuna at IndyCar

I like sobriquets like the big kahuna or the kingpin.  They personalize and soften the people in power.  They humanize them.  After the purges and pogroms in IndyCar lately, some softening seems to be in order.

The big boss man Mark Miles has made his presence felt in the offices of IMS and IndyCar.  After the releases of Randy Bernard, Steve Shunck, and Liza Markle, it seemed that Hulman & Co. was consolidating power and cutting ties with anyone who seemed to be connected to the previous regime.  Or maybe the bean counter in charge was just saving money.  Twitter was aflame with angst.  Robin Miller was apoplectic. The general consensus of those who had dealt with any of these people was that they were friendly, helpful, and relentlessly geared to customer satisfaction.  After years of perceived mismanagement, the few hard-core fans left felt loved and appreciated.  Someone was finally listening to them.  And then the roof caved in.  Bernard was released in a clumsily organized power play, and then Jeff Belklus took over in a scene reminiscent of  Alexander Haig’s “I’m in control here” verbal gaffe, deep diving the IndyCar offices to put the house back in order.  And then Mark Miles arrived.

It is clear that the new big cheese was in charge.  As Hulman & Co. CEO, Miles rearranged the remaining management team, putting Doug Boles in as COO of IMS and Robby Greene in as COO of IndyCar.  Belklus is their immediate boss as CEO of IMS and interim CEO of IndyCar.  Mark Miles is still the potentate of all.  What Miles did is called consolidating power, and it is always the prerogative of a new boss to do so.  He needs people loyal to him, or afraid of him, in his key management positions.  He now has that.

The hard-core fans are wondering the same things.  They all have the same questions:

  • Does Miles understand racing?
  • Does he appreciate the Indianapolis 500 and the Speedway?
  • Is he a tool of the Hulman-George family?
  • Is he one more in a long line of compromised leaders?
  • Can he deal with the multiple constituencies of IndyCar?
  • Does he care about the fans?
  • Will he show the fans that he cares?
  • Will he communicate a vision for the series?
  • Will he be an ivory tower leader?

Are these all the questions?  Consider what the list looks like for other constituencies.  What questions do the owners have?  The drivers?  The sponsors?  The vendors?  You can assume a list of questions just as long or longer for each of them.  The basic question is who is this guy and can he do the job?

After listening to Miles on Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee, I have high hopes for the reign of King Mark.  Listen to the podcast.  He was smooth, articulate, knowledgeable, and sharp.  He gave his views on the current state of IndyCar and where the series needed to go.  He did not shoot from the hip.  In many ways he was the antithesis of Randy Bernard.  He only committed to things that he was already committed too.  If he did not know the answer, he did not vamp, stutter, or make things up.  He said he didn’t know.  Refreshing.

It is clear that Miles is decisive.  He jumped on board with the IMS Tax District concept and explained it in cogent terms on the radio.  He put people in the positions he needed them.  He has released people from their employment.  He has clearly stated that IMS and IndyCar are on the same team and need to work more closely together.  Translation: you all report to me.  And don’t forget it.  The family may have found their guy: Mark Miles can make them money, bring them good PR, and finally herd all those damn cats into the corral.  And that is something Hulman & Co. desperately needs.  The family wants to have the goodwill of the community and millions of dollars in their pockets.  And they need a man like Miles to give it to them.  History has shown they have trouble doing it themselves.

We all know time will tell, but a Henry Ford quote I’ve used before seems most apropos: ““Asking ‘who ought to be the boss’ is like asking ‘who ought to be the tenor in the quartet?’ Obviously, the man who can sing tenor.”  Warm up those vocal chords, Mr. Miles, you’re on.

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