Doug Boles Is No Idiot

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Late last week, IMS officials confirmed what had been suspected for the past few weeks – MotoGP will not be returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2016. Not being a fan of motorcycle racing, this didn’t really affect me one way or the other; but I had heard unofficially that the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix was a money losing proposition for IMS.

I normally don’t get too riled up over comments I see on social media. Even if I get mad at something, I try to follow the advice of our friend Pressdog and never engage the crazies. Unfortunately, there are times when something irritates me so much that I have to speak out. This is one of those times.

I first saw this news very early Friday morning. It was a post on Facebook from the official IMS Facebook page. One of the first comments came from someone with poor punctuation skills, saying “wake up call for doug boles. he is an idiot”. Bad punctuation aside, his message was very clear.

I know, I know…the internet is full of trolls and cretins and we shouldn’t pay them any mind. But in an age when there are so many justified complaints about the leadership from Hulman and Company; IMS President Doug Boles stands out as one of the very few bright spots in the whole leadership structure. I could not let such a senseless comment go without a retort.

My first impulse was to sling names, barbs and arrows at this person. But then I thought I would be getting down on his name-calling level. So I decided to go after the comment instead of the person making it. Without attacking him personally, I came back with “Doug Boles is the smartest "idiot" on the Hulman payroll. He’s the best thing IMS has going. I wish he would run IndyCar, but he’s too smart to do that. Boles inherited MotoGP and tried to make it work. He couldn’t. He’s smart but he’s not a miracle worker.” Fortunately, others chimed in backing up my sentiment.

I meant every word of it. Doug Boles is the best asset that the board of Hulman and Company has. While his boss and IndyCar counterpart, Mark Miles, tends to operate with a bunker mentality and focus strictly on the bottom-line; Doug Boles is the polar opposite. I spent all four weekends at IMS this past May and I don’t think there was a day that I didn’t see Boles out mingling with the fans and making sure that they were enjoying themselves. To say he is a man of the people is an understatement.

Some are turned off that Boles wears a suit at the track every day. First of all; the duties of the job and the level of people Boles deals with, practically mandate that he wear a suit. I’ve never been told this, but I also think that he treats his title of President with the respect it deserves. That’s not to say that Doug Boles takes himself too seriously – far from it. If you’ve ever had a conversation with him, you know how down-to-earth he is.

Boles holds a law degree and is a very astute businessman. But above all else, Doug Boles is one of us – he’s a fan.

Doug Boles grew up just west of Indianapolis in Danville, IN. Although he was already a huge fan, his father would not allow him to attend the Indianapolis 500 until he was ten; thinking that less than ten was too young. I totally disagree with that notion, since I was six when I attended my first race and have very vivid memories of the turbine cars before I turned ten – but I digress.

Once he was allowed to attend his first in 1977, he was predictably hooked. He has not missed a race since then. After attending Butler University and IU McKinney School of Law, Boles worked on then-Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith’s motor sports initiative which helped grow the area’s cottage industry of motorsports. Boles was also a co-founder of Panther Racing in the early days of the IRL. More recently, Boles joined IMS as VP of Communications in 2010, followed by a short stint as IMS CEO in 2013 before being named to his present position as President of IMS.

To say Doug Boles is living the dream is putting it mildly. If you follow Boles on social media, you know how much he appreciates and loves his job. He constantly posts impromptu pictures of IMS throughout the year, whether it is a snow-covered track in January, a sunset from the Pagoda or an update on an IMS construction project. With almost every photo posted, he always makes it clear how much he appreciates what he does for a living.

I don’t look upon it as gloating. I see it as someone who has to pinch himself to make sure he isn’t dreaming and who knows how lucky he is to have such a job. I won’t pretend to know how much Doug Boles is paid, but I’d be willing to bet he could make a ton more in a private law practice. Boles strikes me as someone who doesn’t do his job for the money. It’s out of love for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a passion for the Indianapolis 500 that he does this job.

And it’s a job he does very well, in my opinion – contrary to the guy on Facebook who dared to call Doug Boles an idiot. Boles works endlessly to oversee every facet of any event that takes place at IMS. Those that I know that work for Boles; respect him not only for his likeability and people skills, but for his work ethic and attention to detail.

But not only is Boles a great manager and ambassador for IMS, he also has a great business acumen. He does a great job balancing his respect for the great traditions at IMS with an eye on future revenue possibilities. Case in point – the Sunoco signage that went up this past spring at IMS. He knew it would not be a popular move with purists, but in order to keep up with the times and increase revenue, he had to do it. Credit him for making it as tasteful and discreet as possible.

Doug Boles inherited MotoGP at IMS. As I said, I don’t follow the sport and did not watch any of the MotoGP events there. It wasn’t because their participation at the hallowed grounds of IMS offended me. It just didn’t interest me. I really can’t speak intelligently about the event specifically, so I won’t try to explain why or how MotoGP failed at IMS.

But knowing what I know about Doug Boles, he worked endlessly to make it work. Contrary to the thinking of at least one person, Boles is no idiot. He knew what he had to bring in to make MotoGP profitable. Those at MotoGP knew what had to happen on their end for the event to be feasible. Both parties had business models they had to follow. In the end, it became obvious that the two sides could not make it work, so they made the decision to end it. It’s no one’s fault. It was a business decision. Neither party displayed idiotic tendencies. Idiocy would have been for Boles to continue to stage an event at IMS that was losing money.

So excuse me for going off on a rant over something as silly as a random comment on Facebook. Those that know me know that I’m not just sucking up to Boles simply due to his position. Besides, have you read what I write about Mark Miles? It’s just that I have a great deal of respect for Doug Boles and the job he has done at IMS. To see his name and reputation called into question by someone who apparently knows very little of what they’re talking about really irked me. Doug Boles is no idiot.

George Phillips

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21 Responses to “Doug Boles Is No Idiot”

  1. I have never met Doug Boles but he seems like a good guy from what you have written about him George and best of all he is a fan at heart. He seems to be an anomaly at Hulman and Co.

    That being said, I’m frustrated at our collective abilities in the Midwest, and South to appreciate some incredible racing. Its a real shame MotoGP is gone.

    In my opinion, its days were numbered at Indy since day #1. There are 3 reasons IMHO it did not become an ultimate success: 1) it’s not the Indy 500 2) aside from Nicki Hayden, there were no American riders 3) the infield road course at IMS sucks. It was just inevitable. It frustrates me that people in Indiana and the midwest can’t appreciate the talent and eye popping performance of one of these machines. These guys don’t get a second look simply because they talk funny. I don’t think one needs to be a motorcycle enthusiast to appreciate the level these guys ride at in MotoGP. Anyone who attended an event at IMS would immediately have appreciated the talent and the speed of these bikes. If one had any doubts, all you had to do was see how fast they would get down the infield straight. It is difficult to fathom the amount of power this bikes have and there are few people on the planet that have the stones or the ability to ride them to their maximum potential.

    I’m really disappointed it did not become an ultimate success because the fanbase just can’t stretch their collective minds and appreciate something that is not the Indy 500. I could go off on my rant about the insular Hoosier xenophobes here but I will restrain myself. I wish we as fans were better than that.

    • Is Xenophobe another name for Patriot?

      We talk about courage for auto race drivers, but I can’t imagine the courage it takes to ride these bikes around the track. Can’t image Will Power or Tony Kanaan riding these bikes. They would be shaking too hard. Or complaining too hard.

      I suspect that this race has been doomed ever since the young 13 year old boy was killed at the track about four or five years ago. Surprised it took this long. Perhaps there was a longer term contract. It just seems to be a trend. Bad press because of a fatal accident. Event goes away.

  2. Hoosier xenophobes eh? That’s nice.

    Perhaps it wasn’t a success here in Indianapolis because us Hoosiers don’t cotton to boring road course racing, capiche? Our auto racing history (and it IS our history no matter how hard people like you “from away” try to change it) goes back over 100 years on OVALS. I will not apologize for that fact. Just like the history in your country was built around cockfighting, or some other disgusting, pre-historic nonsense. If you haven’t noticed Formula One didn’t work here either, and the second Grand Prix of Indianapolis (I was at the first and second) was way less attended that the first!

    See, in Indianapolis we like REAL racing, where a driver goes as fast as he can to go from point A to point B, not having to slow down to pedestrian speed to negotiate some idiotic hairpin turn. It’s called “Sports,” and some of us like certain ones and not others. But to call us Hoosier “xenophobic” because we don’t like your favorite contrived boring road courses and the boring machines that run on them is beyond the pale and as idiotic as the guy George was complaining about!

    Phil Kaiser (non xenophobe)
    Indianapolis

    • Damn, I wish you weren’t so laid back. I’d like to know how you really feel!

      • You know John, I was born in Indianapolis on August 24, 1962 at St. Vincent hospital and I still live here. I first went to The Track in May, 1966, right as the “British Invasion” started in U.S. Auto Racing. WE LOVED THOSE GUYS! It didn’t matter where they were from or if we could “understand” them or not! My family has been going to IMS and surrounding dirt tracks for four generations! I grew up three blocks from our State Fairgrounds where I used to sneak in to watch Jay Springsteen slay everyone on his AMA DIRT BIKE! It was fantastic!

        So pardon me if I get completely sick and tired of folks who obviously know nothing about us “Hoosiers” coming on these racing forums to constantly trash us because we don’t did boring road courses! I don’t like tennis or golf either! So freaking call me more names because I’m now somehow less intelligent because I don’t appreciate the particulars of chasing a little white ball around a park. Guess what? I don’t dig basketball much either, guess I don’t understand them as well, eh?

        It’s early in the morning and I always get fired up when I come here first thing and read a load of crap like the load that yannick wrote!

        So sue me….

        • Oops, I meant tonelok

          • Load of crap huh? Well at this rate Hoosiers will end up with exactly what they wanted according to you. IMS is on its way back to its humble beginnings with the sole Indy 500. With F1,long gone, the Brickyard 400 almost gone and Moto GP gone and the Indianapolis GP attendance already declining Hoosiers will get exactly what they asked for. What else is there to replace all these events? Tell me? Balloon racing? The Rolling Stones?

        • Sorry, bud. I was born at Elkhart General and spent the majority of my first 22 years in Indiana. I love road racing, about as much as I love oval racing (though I’ve personally attended WAY more IndyCar races on ovals in my lifetime, I’ve also attended plenty of IndyCar, sports car and F1 races on road courses in the last 15-16 years). Unless you want to put that down to the fact that I was born in “the North”, then I’m not so sure that your “Hoosiers don’t like road racing” holds a ton of water. Either way, the issue here is a lot more nuanced (it involves stuff like “sanctioning fees” and “ticket price points” and “marketplace crowding” and “perceived destination desirability”) than you’re making it out to be.

  3. Long time reader, seldom commenter. I spend every day at IMS in May when there is track activity. Doug Boles is ALWAYS walking around the grounds and has always stopped to talk to fans. During the Sunday Pole Day fiasco, we were sitting right behind the Firestone pit box, along the entrance to Gasoline Alley. I bet Doug walked past 15 times, each time looking at all of us, and thanking us for staying at the track. Later in the day, he even came up and sat beside us for about 10-15 minutes. He is a fan, just like you said, and he is just like one of us.

  4. A little irony here that IMS is cutting loose a race that doesn’t make it any money. Of course that’s good business for the track. Usually it’s some other track cutting an IndyCar race loose for the same reason. I wonder if the MotoGP fans claim there’s nothing wrong with the product and the promoter didn’t market it well enough.

  5. Two suggestons: One, send your letter of appreciation directly to Doug Boles. He has earned it. Second, take Pressdog’s advice and don’t engage the crazies. It is always a challenge for us here to heed that advice whenever we see a post from a certain St. Vincent Hospital alumnus who seems bent on outtrumping the Trumpster.

    For the record, I love flat track motocycle races on the dirt. I also enjoy motorcycle racing around the twists and turns of Road America. Of course, I am not from Indianapolis (a few miles north at Sedalia), so what do I know? When it comes to racing I consider myself well-rounded as opposed to well-ovaled.

    Oh yeah, back to Doug Boles. He is a major asset to the series and to all things 16th and Georgetown.

    • I knew I could rely on you to come on here and call ME names after I respond to a poster calling us Hoosiers “xenophobes.” I KNEW I would be the bad guy standing up for us regular Joes who live in this wonderful state because some interloper from away calls US names because we’re too stupid to “understand” a boring road race!

      By the way Ron, you’re so freaking smart, do you actually know who Jay Springsteen is? I mentioned him in my post. I loved the guy! He was a fabulous flat track dirt motorcycle champion from the ’70s & ’80s you nasty piece of work!

      I am not crazy, just tired of being insulted daily on these forums because I don’t like somebody’s pet “sport!” But you are a complete asshole for even insinuating something like that about someone you don’t know and have never met. Typical BS from you Ron Ford!

      • Golly Phil. I hate to see a fellow Hoosier get so worked up that they resort to swearing here, and I am quite sure that George does not appreciate that. It appears that you are a very sensitive fellow. So I promise here and now to avoid responding to any of your future comments.

        As for Jay, I imagine that anyone who has followed AMA motorcycle racing over the years knows of his Hall of Fame record. My personal favorite from back in the day was Johnny Spiegelhoff. My current favorite is Shayna Texter who regularly beats da boys. Her grandfather could wheel a sprint car with the best. I would love to see Shayna race on four wheels if she should decide to give that a go.

        Have a nice evening.

      • Chris Lukens Says:

        Remember Jay Springsteen, heck, I remember Carroll Resweber.
        But more to your point, I see the majority of reader voted “that style of racing” did not fit & there was “no demand’ for it. I will point out that next years the IndyCar schedule has a very good chance of being 80% “that style of racing.”
        My comment on Doug Boles is that I think he is doing a good job. As good of a job as can be expected, considering all of the competing agendas he has to deal with, from cry baby car owners, to cry baby promoters, to cry baby sisters, to cry baby fans. It’s a job I wouldn’t want.

        • It is also possible that people read the survey options and took “that style of racing” to be “motorcycle racing” instead of “road racing”. Or, it’s possible that people read that option and fixated on the first part, “It’s nobody’s fault” and chose it, without worrying about what the second sentence said. I honestly don’t know what the truth is, but there are several ways to interpret what you saw there.

  6. hey George. agree with you on this one. its easy to knock people down from behind a key board, and that is where most of the kooks operate.

    doug boles is a very good leader of ims and for ims. cant afford to lose another quality leader like doug.

  7. I love what is going on at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I look at Doug’s posting photographs of the facility not as boasting, but as a bonus FOR US!!!! I am glad that someone who loves IMS as much as we do is in charge!!!

    By the way, I would like to see the return of the Indianapolis 500 rock glasses. How about a dishwasher safe one!!!

  8. Boles = good job.

  9. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    1. I love me some me.
    2. I love to see things only as binary decisions.
    3. If you don’t agree with me, you’re wrong.
    4. I use wider demographics as a way to adhere my ideas to a greater number of the population, thereby making my (already weak) argument appear more valid.
    5. I use obscure references, not entirely pertinent to the discussion, to also add an appearance of expertise or extensive knowledge.
    6. I love the smell of the internet in the morning.

    PS Oh, George. Well-written as usual, good insights, sensible ideas, yada yada.

  10. I always wanted to go see the bikes but it always conflicted with something at Mid-Ohio. Much like F1 at IMS, I missed my chance and will have to see them somewhere else less convenient.

  11. Speedway taxing district already generating less revenue after the state guarantees the $100M bond.

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