Robin Miller (journalist)

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For other people of the same name, see Robin Miller (disambiguation).

Robin Lee Miller (born October 27, 1949, in Anderson, Indiana)[1] is an American motorsports journalist. He was an Indy car pit crew member and drove in the USAC midget series in the 1970s. Miller is best known for being a writer at The Indianapolis Star from 1968-2001.

He has also written for Autoweek and Car and Driver and is currently a correspondent and senior writer for RACER magazine and RACER.com while also reporting on IndyCar racing for the NBC Sports Network.

Racing career[edit]

Miller first visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1957, and attended his first Indianapolis 500 in 1959.[2] In 1968, at the age of 18, he got to "stooge" for his driving hero Jim Hurtubise[2][3] at Indy. Miller was hired for free to do odd jobs with the pit crew, but was fired before the end of the month after he ruined the paint job on Hurtubise's car.[2]

Miller become friends with chief mechanic Bill Finley, and driver Art Pollard. From 1971-1978 (concurrent to his work with The Star), Miller began working on pit crews at the Indianapolis 500.[2][3] It was common during that time for racing teams to hire extra freelance help for the Indy 500 due to the extended (month-long) work commitment. He was assigned to various jobs, such as the pit board and vent man, but never worked mechanically on the cars.[2] Finley, one of the last true chief mechanics at Indianapolis, described Miller as "without a mechanical bone in his body."

In 1972, he bought his first race car, from Andy Granatelli.[2] He raced a Formula Ford in 1972, and then bought a midget car in 1974 from Gary Bettenhausen.[2] He then competed in USAC midgets from 1975-1983. Miller's best race came in 1980 when he qualified 5th out of 93 cars for the annual "Hut 100" at Terre Haute's Action Track, a dirt race that featured 33 starters in 11 rows of three like Indy and also sported several top Indy drivers of the time, a race that he considers a highlight of his career.[2] However, he blew his engine and dropped out.

After about ten years, he quit driving due to his lack of mechanical knowledge, and massive debts.[2]

Media career[edit]

The Indianapolis Star[edit]

Miller was hired at The Indianapolis Star in 1968. His first duties included answering telephones in the sports department.[2] A year later, he was moved into the sports department as a writer. One of his early assignments was a traveling reporter following the Indiana Pacers.[4] During his career, he became a polarizing figure. In 1981, he gained attention when he accused A. J. Foyt of cheating, for which Foyt punched Miller, and the paper issued a retraction.[2] Miller also stirred up controversy, taking on Bobby Knight, the Irsay family, girls basketball, and female golfers.[4] One of his heated columns led to the girl's basketball team from Franklin College challenge the paper's sports department to a match, and the sportswriters won the game.[4]

Miller worked for 33 years at the The Indianapolis Star, becoming one of the nation's best known sports writers for Indy car racing.[5] He started covering the Indianapolis 500 in 1969. During the month of May for the Indy 500, in addition to his daily columns, Miller would have side gigs on WIBC, WTHR, and The Bob & Tom Show.[3] In the early 1990s, he also served as emcee of the popular Last Row Party. Miller also wrote and reported occasionally about NASCAR, including extensive coverage of the Brickyard 400. Following the 1996 open wheel split, Miller was highly critical of the Indy Racing League and Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George. For this, he drew considerable ire from many locals and from various city leaders, but likewise gained a considerable following from CART supporters.. He lost his radio show on WIBC and television job at Channel 13 for his anti-George stance. Eventually, after the department reorganized, Miller's duties shifted from columnist to focus solely on auto racing.

In January 2001, Miller was fired from the Star.[6] The reasons given for his release were violations of the company's e-mail policy as well as the ethics policy.[6] He reportedly sent abusive e-mails to readers, sent pornographic material to co-workers, and sent defamatory e-mails about local community leaders (namely Tony George and Colts officials).[6] He also was charged with accepting $2,500 from Kenny Brack for work on his web site[3][6] (Miller claims he never received the money[4]), and being paid to write promotional material for CART,[3] which violated company policy.[6] Miller filed a grievance over the dismissal, however, it was dismissed.[6] An outside arbitrator ruled that the firing was justified due to "gross misconduct" on the job.[6] Miller contended that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George conspired to have him fired,[3] due to his ongoing bad press about the IRL,[5] and that behind the scenes, the Speedway would accept The Star as a business partner only if Miller was fired.[3][4]

Subsequent jobs[edit]

Miller worked as a racing writer/reporter at ESPN from 2001-2004.[3] he appeared on programs such as RPM 2Night and SportsCentury. During that time, he also wrote freelance for Champ Car's website. He was fired in March 2007 from Champ Car after he wrote a critical column that was perceived as undue criticism.[3] The series eventually collapsed and merged with the IRL.

In 2004, Miller joined Speed as a writer and Indy Car "insider." He became a regular contributor to SpeedTV.com, SPEED Center, and WindTunnel with Dave Despain. He remains at the position as of 2011. With many trusted sources throughout the paddock, Miller has broken several big stories regarding IndyCar racing and the Indy 500, including the 2008 IRL/CCWS unification.[7][8]

Versus / NBC Sports Network[edit]

Starting in 2011, Miller has served as an analyst for IndyCar coverage on Versus/NBC Sports Network. His duties include pre-race interviews and commentary. At the 2011 Iowa Corn 250, he helped start the popular "grid walk" feature.[9]

Personal[edit]

He graduated from Southport High School[2] in Indianapolis, and flunked out of Ball State University "after two very enjoyable quarters." He also spent one semester at IUPUI.[2] His first car was a 1962 Ford Galaxie. He has never married, does not drink,[2] and currently resides in Indianapolis.

Miller claims he has lost over $250,000 gambling.[4]

The worst moment in his career was when he lost his friend Art Pollard during practice for the Indy 500 in 1973.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Robin Miller Bio, Speed Channel, Retrieved 2010-02-26
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n ""One on One" with Mark Montieth". 2011-05-01. 1070 The Fan. http://www.1070thefan.com/oneonone/.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Miller, Robin (2007-03-01). "MILLER: Fired Again". Speed. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f ""One on One" with Mark Montieth". 2011-08-21. 1070 The Fan. http://www.1070thefan.com/oneonone/.
  5. ^ a b "Hardcopy - Robin Miller". Automobile Magazine. February 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Knight, Dana (2002-01-03). "Arbitrator upholds The Star's firing of Robin Miller". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  7. ^ "Tony George Makes an Offer for Unity". SpeedTV.com. 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  8. ^ "REPORT: Champ Car/IndyCar Deal Done". SpeedTV.com. 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  9. ^ Iowa Corn Indy 250 Recap