Andretti chews up Miles, spits him out
US racing legend Mario Andretti and IndyCar boss Mark Miles disagree on how the sport should progress. Autosport's MARK GLENDENNING got both sides of the story.
|Mario Andretti disagrees with the direction CEO Mark Miles is taking IndyCar|
What is your take on next year's race on the Indy road course?
I think it's a risk. It seems like the new man in change, Mark Miles, takes a lot of advice from the Boston Consulting Group, who haven't got a clue, in my opinion, about our sport.
No one loves road racing more than I do, so from the standpoint of having more road races, fine. But for me, it diminishes the mystique of the main event.
I'm on the record with him that I totally disagree, and he looks at me like I'm a naysayer.
You know what? I've lived in the business all my life. He comes from tennis, or whatever. Why doesn't he pay attention to some of the things that actually have worked? The facts that we are actually facing?
I raced at the first and second Daytona 24 Hours. Ferrari, Porsche, all the main teams were there. There was nobody around. Today, you have the main NASCAR stars turn up, IndyCar stars... nobody there [in the stands].
You go to Sebring, and it's elbow-to-elbow. Why? No ambience [at Daytona]. There is not a single road-racing circuit inside an oval anywhere on this planet that draws [a crowd]. The Lausitzring: DTM has its smallest crowd there, because nobody wants to go there.
So why does he think that by changing some of the layout at Indianapolis, it's going to make a difference? If F1 can't make it work on the road course, nothing will. So it's not that I'm a naysayer. I'm just trying to talk sense based on what we know.
You sound disappointed with Miles.
He has his own way, and he has this Boston group which he hired when he was on the board, and that's what he takes all his advice from.
For him to end the IndyCar season at the end of August is criminal to IndyCar. He's saying, 'Even NASCAR has a heavy TV ratings fall during the Chase.' That's bullshit. NASCAR is 20 per cent up on last year.
It is presence. Who is your competition? NASCAR, Formula 1 and IndyCar are the three big series on the globe.
NASCAR starts its season in February and ends in the middle of November. Formula 1 starts in March and ends at the same time as NASCAR. And we are out of sight and out of mind for two months before that, and you think you're doing the series a service? Give me a break.
IndyCar plans to fill some of the gap with a Winter Series...
There's going to be no Winter Series. Where the hell is he going to go? We just lost Brazil. When you have the awareness that we used to have, all of a sudden [countries like] Australia want IndyCar. There was no commercial reason to go there, but the sanction fee was good.
The only way you're going to go to Japan, or South Korea, or China, or anywhere in Europe, is if you get a sanction fee that makes sense. And nobody's going to pay it.
It's not going to happen. That's the reality of it.
If he'd said, 'OK, I'm going to announce that the series will end at the end of August, but here's what we have already in place', then that's OK. Now, he says, 'that's to be determined'. Well, good luck, my friend. That's all I can say.
More at Autosport