Robin Is Usually Right
There are many fans of the IZOD IndyCar Series that absolutely detest the mere mention of the name Robin Miller. But for each of them, there are just as many that think he is the only true voice of IndyCar fans. I may not consider Robin Miller as the sole spokesperson for the fans, but I come a lot closer to falling into the latter camp than the former.
Before the internet, I would subscribe to copies of The Indianapolis Star during the month of May. I did that because that’s what my father did when we were growing up. As a kid in the early seventies and as a childlike adult in the early nineties, I became very familiar with Robin Miller’s writing. I always found his columns enlightening and hilarious, both at the same time.
I didn’t attend the Indianapolis 500 from 1996 through 2002. Somewhere in that timeframe, I finally relented and bought a computer; when I finally decided that this internet thing wasn’t just a fad that would be going away soon. Even though I chose to stay away from what I felt was a diluted Indianapolis 500 during that time, I still followed the sport. Once I got a computer, I quickly found that the best way of keeping up was the plethora of online articles out there – and of course, IndyStar.com and Robin Miller. I loved his Q&A that would appear far less frequent than it does now. It was rife with humorous replies as well as candid comments on where he thought this sport was headed.
Then in January 2001, Miller was fired from The Star. The official explanation was that he violated several of The Star’s ethics policies. Miller contends that Tony George had him fired due to his very critical comments towards him and his fledgling Indy Racing League. Supposedly, the only way the Speedway would allow The Star access to the grounds was if they disassociated themselves from Miller. Whether there is any truth to that story is purely conjecture, but regardless – after a thirty-three year career at The Indianapolis Star, Robin Miller was suddenly gone.
After a three-year stint at ESPN, Miller resurfaced at SPEED and SPEEDTV.com; where he is today. His brashness has never waned.
When I returned to the Speedway in 2003, I was shocked to see a T-shirt that said “Robin Miller Sucks!”. How could that be? Doesn’t everyone appreciate his candor and humor like I do? Apparently not.
Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve met a lot of people associated with IndyCar on various levels and have become close friends with a few of them. Oddly enough, I think I am one of the few in my small circle of racing friends who actually likes Robin Miller. Mentioning his name to some will provide a cascade of unflattering adjectives and strong negative opinions. My question is: why?
Although I appreciate his unfiltered approach at being brutally honest, I understand and realize that his style might rub some people the wrong way. But is it just his method of delivery or is it his message that puts people off? Personally, in this day and age of political correctness gone awry and each talking head sounding just like the other one – I find his frankness refreshing. Robin Miller calls it like he sees it.
The thing that most of his critics tend to overlook is that Robin Miller is usually right. In June of 2009, Miller started writing that Tony George’s sisters were fed up with his uncontrolled spending of the family inheritance and that they were trying to have him ousted. Miller-haters decried that Miller must be desperate for a story to come up with something as far-fetched as that. We now know the outcome.
In 2010, Miller was one of a select few media members to get a firsthand look at the DeltaWing project. Although he signed a confidentiality agreement that prevented him from leaking any details, he warned us all that it was a revolutionary concept and it would be unlike anything any of us fans had seen. We now know the outcome.
Fast-forward to early June of this year. I was on my honeymoon when I first started reading Robin Miller’s claims that Tony George was working behind the scenes to align financial backers to try and take back control of the IZOD IndyCar Series he had founded; and have Randy Bernard removed in the process. Again, the doubters tweeted about how far Miller had fallen and how his hatred of Tony George had led him to the brink of delusion to come up with such a crazy scenario. We now know the outcome.
Whether or not you approve of the way he communicates or if you agree with his opinions – it seems like even his most fervent opponents would have to agree that most of the time; in fact, almost all of the time – Robin Miller is usually right. But for whatever reason, his detractors will instead point to his shortcomings as a human being or his caustic personality. I never got the idea that Robin Miller was trying to win a popularity contest among the fans. He is just very passionate about IndyCar racing and specifically, the Indianapolis 500. It is his life and he sees it as his responsibility to point out a lot of the things he sees wrong in this sport. And as much as I love this sport – there are a lot of things that are wrong with it.
With no disrespect to Curt Cavin, Marshall Pruett or Jenna Fryer; but you get the impression that covering the IndyCar series is a job to them. It’s a job they do very well, but it is something they’re good at and it provides a decent living. There is passion in their writing, but it is still their profession. You sense that they just might have other things going on in their lives away from the track. On the other hand, you get the idea that to Robin Miller – this is his life. He lives and breathes IndyCar and it’s entirely possible that he has no life outside of IndyCar. You sense that it is that important to him that this sport succeeds, that if he has to ruffle a few feathers to get his important message out there, so be it.
Robin Miller turned sixty-three years old last October. He has been professionally covering this sport since he was nineteen – and following it personally long before that. Donald Davidson may know more about what happened at the Speedway in 1915, but no one comes close to understanding the inner-workings of the various sanctioning bodies of the sport over the past half-century as much as Robin Miller.
Like him or loathe him; swear by him or swear at him – it’s time that all fans of the IZOD IndyCar Series finally gave the man his due. Robin is usually right.