Mark Miles has clarified the new driver code of conduct guidelines, which were met with a very negative reaction when released.
INDYCAR has issued a new rule, 9.3.8 that addresses detrimental competitor conduct. You can read about the rules themselves HERE.
Shortly after 8PM ET, the series sent out a statement attributed to Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles, who had warned the media, during a recent teleconference, that comments denigrating the company would not be tolerated.
Our drivers are competitors and we have no interest in eliminating the emotion and passion that is an integral part of our sport
He said, “This rule is not a gag order. We recognize that controversy, tension and drama all have a place in motorsport today.” Those human qualities have been present in motorsport since the very first race occurred between two drivers. Drama is what makes racing as intriguing as it is and, with drama, controversy and tension have a way of being part of the agenda.
Miles then stated, “Our drivers are competitors and we have no interest in eliminating the emotion and passion that is an integral part of our sport - or limit the content for media covering INDYCAR.” That’s a good thing because current broadcaster Paul Tracy was, in his heyday, the epitome of an emotional and passionate driver, one who goaded his nemesis Sebastien Bourdais into acting almost as juvenile as he did. And maybe I - and others like me - can continue to try and constructively criticize INDYCAR?
Clarification on what crosses the line
“As an example, some have speculated that exchange between Ed Carpenter and Sage Karam last Saturday at Iowa Speedway would result in penalty under this new rule - that is not the case,” Miles continued. “We feel exchanges of that manner do not cross the line and instead highlight the intensity of Verizon IndyCar Series competition.
“We feel it’s our responsibility to distinguish between irresponsible statements that damage the sport or its competitors and the intense competitive nature of the series. This rule is to ensure we have authority to act when we feel it is required,” Miles concluded.
These statements by the CEO contravene some letters of the rule that’s been made effective today. Competitors are required to be “respectful, professional, fair and courteous to others,” the rule states. So if Ed Carpenter, for example, wants to rag on Sage Karam for his driving manners while conducting an interview on live television, that’s definitely not respectful, professional, fair or courteous, in particular if he uses language that could be construed to be prejudicial or uncivil in our politically correct society.
However, such conduct did not call “into question the integrity or legitimacy of the Rules or their application, construction or interpretation.” Ed, it must be recalled, was simply calling Sage out for his racing manners, which he found less than acceptable.
None of those actions, nor the ones that Miles certainly didn’t appreciate from some key veteran drivers following the MAVTV500 race disobeys this new rule and you’ve got to wonder exactly what would cause INDYCAR to react?
Maybe we should all take a step back, figure that this new rule is a preemptive strike and continue to behave as we always have? In all my years covering this sport of IndyCar racing - in all of its guises - I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone denigrate the schedule or its events, threaten or denigrate any business relationship (obviously never with sponsors or broadcasters).
While I have heard drivers call Race Control “circus clowns” or even more colorful names, that doesn’t really “threaten the integrity, reputation or public confidence of the sport, INDYCAR or the IndyCar Series.”
It’s just passion we’ve been witnessing lately folks and that’s what makes racing the unique sport that it is. So let’s breathe, look forward to another contentiously competitive contest at Mid-Ohio and wait for Wednesday’s notice of who’s on probation now.