St. Petersburg, Fla. – Since being named CEO of Hulman & Company, Mark Miles has been on a mission to learn as much as he can about IndyCar racing. Hulman & Company is privately owned and presided over by a 10-person board that includes Miles and Jeff Belskus, who is CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and interim CEO of the IndyCar Series.
Miles is well known in Indianapolis business and sports circles and among other notable achievements, he headed the ATP Tennis tour for 15 years, elevating the tennis organization to a prominent position in the sports world.
“This is my first chance to be around all of our population,” said Miles during a press conference at St. Petersburg on Saturday. His meetings have included sessions with team owners, drivers and key manufacturers. “That is a process to trade ideas and understand them, and it is certainly ongoing. On a personal level, there are a lot of similarities and differences with professional tennis, and I really like the differences.”
After meeting with the team owners, he said they had common interests in defining clarity and leadership of IndyCar. “They are absolutely united in their common desire to grow the IndyCar Series,” he commented. “They can be a cohesive aligned industry for the sport, and now we want to get everyone on the same page.”
The owners raised questions regarding increasing fan engagement and television ratings and devising a schedule that will elevate national and international attention. In addition, promotional enhancements were addressed. Scheduling and timing of international events were high on the list of priorities and questions were points would be awarded for international races.
Miles admits to not being overly technical, but he has been listening to the issues involved. Repeatedly, he indicated his primary interest is in gaining increased fan attention through attendance and television broadcasts. Factoring in safety and technical considerations, he would like to see speeds edge up at Indianapolis. “This is the fastest series in racing, and an incremental increase in speed is a big hook for the public,” he said, underscoring the importance of safety.
Regarding television opportunities, he’s satisfied with the contracts that are in place and going forward, he would like to see networks have blocks of races that could be used to build television audiences.
Since the departure of Randy Bernard, IndyCar has been without a full-time CEO, and according to Miles, a replacement may not be in the cards. Instead, it appears the company may well merge the entities that oversee IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to minimize the duplication that exists today. “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway organization has sales, marketing, licensing and communication responsibilities, and you have the same type of organization across the street at IndyCar,” Miles noted. “Could we better a higher performing organization if we put those two organizations together? To me, consolidation makes sense.”
Reading between the lines, it seems a merger is likely and Miles and his staff are identifying the talent on hand to restructure into one organization. And he hinted a plan may be unfolded around the time of the Indianapolis 500.
Miles seems to be a quick learner and seems to enjoy challenging situations. While success can never be predicted, Miles looks like he is on the winning track.