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Monday, May 27, 2013

INDY

Believe it or not, I flew to Indianapolis for my 35th Indy 500 on U.S. Airways flight No. 500. It's always nice to see old friends, which Indy creates the opportunity to do. The emotional highlight of the weekend for me was seeing Alex Zanardi. Back in the day when we worked together, something good would happen and Alex would often say to me, "There are no words . . ." Our words whispered into one another's ear in Gasoline Alley on race morning were highly personal and thus shall remain private, but as for the deep feelings involved, well, yes, there are no words . . .

New Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles oversaw his first Indy as boss. I spent almost 45 minutes with Miles Friday afternoon in his office. I've written here many times about the many "leaders" who have come and gone in various versions of American open-wheel racing (one such offering took second place in the AARWBA journalism contest). This much I can tell you about Miles based on observation and my first-hand time with him:

This is a serious, experienced, disciplined business management executive. Miles, unlike some of those who have come before, is not seeking personal publicity and won't be a fountain of colorful quotes. He's about building a proper management team and staff and moving forward, not looking backwards. The man is definitely not chained to the sport's past. 

I can't share much more right now because I'm still working out when and where I'll extensively quote him. Look back here next week for more and I'll also update plans on Twitter. But I did ask him about his authority and ability to navigate the Hulman-George family and series' politics (he was recruited by the outside Board members, not a member of the H-G family) and my last question to him was why hard-core IndyCar fans should believe his tenure will be different from those who have failed before.

From our interview, I did write a CompetitionPlus.com story that was posted last Friday regarding an IMS road course event conflicting with the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend (it won't happen), and the talking point that IndyCars are the "fastest" series. See link below for that.


In the May 27 Sports Illustrated, writer Lars Anderson's first paragraph of his Indy pole qualifying story included this line:

"The silver-haired Roger Penske, whose cars have won the race 15 times, chatted with one of his drivers, Helio Castroneves, on pit road."

Except Penske was NOT at Indy! As was well-reported on TV and elsewhere, Penske was in Italy, participating in the Mille Miglia.

I report. You decide.


Congratulations to the Hulman-George and France families, winners of the Bob Russo Founders Award, announced Saturday at the AARWBA breakfast. Russo, the late racing journalist/publicist/historian, founded AARWBA in 1955. He died in 1999 at age 71. The Russo Award is presented for “profound interest, tireless efforts and undying dedication to auto racing as exemplified by Russo throughout his lifelong career.”

Previous Russo Award winners include: 2005 – Michael Knight; 2006 – Wally Parks; 2007 – Chris Economaki; 2008 – Bob Jenkins; 2009 – Shav Glick; 2010 -- Bill York; 2011 -- Bill Marvel; 2012 -- Paul Page. A permanent plaque with all winners’ names is on display in the Speedway media center.

The award is sponsored by Collene and Gary Campbell, the sister and brother-in-law of the late Mickey Thompson.


I won five awards in the annual AARWBA journalism contest, results announced Saturday. Those included a first place in newspaper news writing (the Jeff Gordon-Clint Bowyer crew brawl at PIR) and second in newspaper feature writing (how the Gordon-Jimmie Johnson relationship has evolved) for Arizona Republic stories. My May 2012 CompetitionPlus.com column, "Oh, What Might Have Been" was first in online column writing and my exclusive breaking news story that Paul Page wouldn't return to the ESPN TV booth was honorable mention in online news writing. And this blog was second in the web log category. Thanks to all to helped make this possible.


If you didn't see them online or on Twitter, here are links to my A.J. Foyt story in last Saturday's Republic and some breaking news on CompetitionPlus.com:


[ more next Monday . . . ]