Curt Or Robin: Why Choose?
Open-wheel fans are in for a treat tonight. Robin Miller is to be a guest on Trackside With Cavin & Kevin, tonight on 1070 The Fan – WFNI in Indianapolis at 7:00 Central (8:00 in Indianapolis). Even if you are not a regular listener to this show (which is really a must for die-hard IndyCar fans), you don’t want to miss tonight’s show.
I can remember Robin Miller’s name when I was a kid. My father always subscribed to The Indianapolis Star by mail during the month of May, when I was growing up. Robin Miller was already writing for The Star during the late 1960’s and I remember reading his articles. His writing style was not much different then, than it is now. When Curt Cavin joined The Star full-time in 1987, Robin Miller was already a twenty year veteran.
I’m not going to pretend to know what their working relationship was like, but I suspect it was a lot better than most people think. Still, when Miller was fired from The Star for various reasons in 2001 – he seemed to harbor a public grudge against Cavin. I sometimes wonder if that’s just some of the Robin Miller persona that he is trying to perpetuate, or maybe there really are some hard feelings. For his part, Curt Cavin has always maintained the high road and speaks of Robin Miller with total respect, and credits Miller for being his mentor in the early stages of his career.
Their writing styles and personalities are completely different. Both have developed a strong following over the years. One thing I’ve never understood, however, is the fact that there seems to be some unwritten rule that says you cannot be fans of both. You must choose sides. Why?
This isn’t Cubs-Cardinals or Foyt-Andretti. These are two well-informed and respected journalists that sometimes have different viewpoints, but present their ideas in very unique methods. Curt Cavin comes across as level-headed and presents his thoughts in a very logical and soft-spoken manner. Robin Miller can be brash and extremely vocal, but with equal parts passion and humor. I think I’m one of the few people that actually likes reading both of them.
I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or what. I’m only nine years younger than Miller and about five years older than Cavin – so I can relate to both. I appreciate Robin Miller’s love for the sixties at Indianapolis. I was there as a (young) fan and he was there covering it. But Curt Cavin grew up in Indiana as well, and has a deep respect for open-wheel racing. Cavin’s reporting is a little more objective, probably because he didn’t grow up a racing fan. He is a basketball guy, first and foremost. He has been involved with open-wheel racing on a professional level since 1985 and has developed a deep respect for the sport as he has honed his craft over the years – he just doesn’t go overboard with his emotions, as Robin Miller sometimes does. Both styles have their place.
Curt Cavin is a gentleman. I don’t know if that is the first word that I would come up with to describe Robin Miller, but in my one chance meeting with him, he was very nice to me. In 2003, at the IndyCar race here in Nashville – my son and I managed to slip into Victory Lane to watch Gil de Ferran celebrate his first win since Indianapolis. As the place cleared while they took the obligatory photos, I heard a familiar voice behind me. It was Robin Miller and his ESPN cohort Marlo Klain. No one there recognized either one of them. I turned around and started talking to both of them and they were both very friendly and talkative.
I have since heard that Robin has no use for bloggers, so even though he was sitting just four rows directly behind me in the media center at Indianapolis this past May – I didn’t go up to speak to him. That was probably a mistake on my part. I think if you were to have a few beers with him, one on one in a bar – the conversation would be priceless. The stories he could tell about the characters he has known in racing over the years, could fill ten books.
Robin Miller started the “Mailbag” concept at The Star by taking e-mail questions from readers and answering them (hopefully) about once a week. Although Curt Cavin didn’t invent the Q&A that is on The Star’s website now, he put his own spin on it by posting answers to questions almost every weekday and sometimes on weekends. After a stint at ESPN.com, Miller has taken the “Mailbag” to his current employer, SPEEDTV.com, and still generally posts answers about once a week.
Robin’s readers are a little more sharp-tongued than Curt’s. Perhaps the questions he and Curt choose to answer may be most reflective of their own personalities, but both have very knowledgeable readers.
Curt is perceived as being slow to a story at times, but he is hindered by his newspaper’s insistence that he go through the proper channels of verifying sources and stories before spreading rumors based on hearsay. Robin isn’t forced to adhere to such standards. Sometimes he has been the first with a story; while other times he has been dead wrong.
But I’m still floored with the Track Forum mentality that says you have to choose sides. The old CART/Champ Car camp seems to prefer Robin, while Curt is seen as an IRL guy. Ironically, in the early days of the split – Curt’s nickname was CART Cavin due to his perceived favoritism towards CART. I like both and can appreciate each one for their unique styles. They both have something to offer and I refuse to buy into the theory that you have to choose.
So as we head into tonight’s show, what can we expect? Fireworks? Ten years of pent-up frustration unleashed between two old co-workers? Hardly. It’s fun to think about and it will drum up some ratings, but I think it will be quite civil.
In fact, I think they will both put their gloves down and have a very open and informative discussion about the state of affairs in the IZOD IndyCar Series – like last night’s curious announcement of a twin-bill at Texas next year. Despite the differences in their personalities, the two men share a lot of the same opinions. For one, they both hold new CEO Randy Bernard in very high regard. They both also seem bullish on IZOD’s influence on the series. Although Curt is much more diplomatic about it, the two also have long-term concerns over the Versus deal. Both understand the need to have races on a mainstream outlet in order to grow the sport.
I don’t know if Robin will be in the studio, or if he’ll be on the phone. If he is in the studio, I’d like to watch Kevin Lee be the traffic cop. But this is usually a civil and well-behaved show and I don’t anticipate anything getting out of hand. But I can promise this…I will be listening intently over the internet tonight, and I suggest you do the same. Whatever tone the show takes tonight, I’m sure it’s going to be good.
*Note – For those that are technologically challenged, you can listen to tonight’s show by clicking here and then click on the red link that says “Click Here to listen LIVE to 1070 The Fan!”