New Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles ready to dig in and make changes to IndyCar
Highlights from an IBJ.com interview with New Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles:
Mark Miles will be careful and calculated, but I expect him to have the IndyCar staff overhauled by July. For the record, Miles doesn't see Tony George taking a management position with IndyCar or the IMS.
It’s clear that the buck for all matters pertaining to the series and Speedway will stop on Miles' desk.
During our conversation, Miles, who will work out of the Speedway’s corporate office at 16th Street and Georgetown Road, was not hesitant to weigh in on any number of topics concerning the Speedway’s infrastructure and operations. He didn’t talk like someone interested in deferring or deflecting questions—or responsibilities.
Miles admits he’s more willing than the Hulman-George family that owns the facilities to break from tradition.
Miles has no interest in focusing on the series’ and Speedways’ baggage. Open-wheel fans, past and present, awaiting an apology for Indy Racing League’s split from CART in the 1990s can probably forget about it.
“The trick is to have a fresh set of eyes come to this and not let the past—in fact, not [being] interested in continually digging up the past—but looking forward and yet doing that in a way that appreciates the culture.” Miles said.
The trick in looking to the future for Miles will be to find a way to bring back hard-core racing fans still upset over the split without dredging up the ugly past.
IndyCar fans will likely see schedule tweaks for the 2013 season, but in 2014, I expect to see major changes including some type of post-season structure.
During the interview, Miles mentioned the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup and NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup as models the series might mimic.
Miles thinks the series could be out of the red (for the year) in the near term. But he has no intention of stopping there.
“It’s going to be sustainable financially with another race, perhaps, or another sponsor or two,” Miles said. “That’s the base line. Our objective is to grow it in a very significant way. That’s going to take a little bit of time and hitting on all cylinders.”
One of Miles’ biggest long-term challenges will be advising the Hulman-George family on passing Hulman & Co. to the next generation and making sure the company has the right leadership to help it grow.
While Miles said those decisions ultimately remain with the family, there’s little doubt his counsel will be called upon.
“In the end, if a venerable firm is going to succeed over time from generation to generation, it has to be a meritocracy,” Miles said. “The idea is, you have to have the absolute best people available running the company and in all the key seats.
“There’s real talent in the [Hulman-George] family,” but the family might find it better to have an outsider run the company, he said.
“One of the first things I did was meet with the next generation on the day of the announcement of me taking the position. And I’m going to meet with them regularly for two reasons; to see how I can help them and help and aid in their development. Secondly, to see what I can learn from them.”
Ultimately, Miles may have to teach the younger members of the Hulman-George clan that running the racing empire is something that needs to be earned and that it’s not an entitlement to be inherited.