Series not for sale, reiterate owners
21 November 2012
The owners of the IZOD IndyCar Series have once again emphatically denied that the series might be sold, saying that the series is too closely tied to the fortunes of the company's flagship Indianapolis 500 to consider selling it off.
The latest denials came as the owners, Hulman & Co., announced the appointment of Mark Miles as a new CEO of the board. He replaces Jeff Belskus who has moved over to become interim CEO of the IndyCar Series itself. Belskus will remain president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), which is also owned by Hulman & Co.
"We are determined to grow the IndyCar Series as a sport, and that will help the Indianapolis 500 mile race in the process." said Miles on Tuesday, adding that he considered the series to be "vitally important" to the future of the company as a whole.
"We believe that the destinies of IMS and the Indianapolis 500 mile race and the IndyCar Series are inextricably welded, woven together," Miles insisted.
"We see opportunities to continue the growth of IndyCar, which I view as an exciting challenge," echoed Belskus. "My passion is rooted in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar, and I have been energised by the opportunity we have in the short and long term for both organisations."
Although officially still 'interim' CEO of IndyCar, the appointment of Miles in his former role at Hulman & Co. hints that Belskus might remain in the post for somewhat longer than originally envisaged.
Mark Miles, the 59-year-old new CEO of Hulman & Co. is a veteran business leader and international sports executive. As well as a 15-year tenure transforming the ATP (American Association of Tennis Professionals), Miles had conspicuous success earlier this year leading the running of the 2012 NFL Super Bowl in Indianapolis. His appointment is intended to address business concerns that Hulman & Co. is operating in too parochial a manner to successfully run a national sporting series.
"The combination of his international sports experience and leadership of large-scale events like the 2012 Super Bowl, along with his diverse experience with public and private corporations, make him an exceptionally positive match for our business," said the chairman of the board of Hulman & Co., Mari Hulman George. "His business acumen, his ability to cultivate and develop partnerships and the extensive network in sports and business he will provide will strengthen all of our business units," she added.
Miles' appointment is aimed at freeing up Jeff Belskus to deal with stabilising the troubled IndyCar Series, which has been rocked by takeover talk, a big financial loss in 2012, rumours about team owner dissatisfaction, and the sudden departure of its CEO Randy Bernard last month.
"I'll work very hard to bring a fresh perspective and build some trust," said Miles of the task ahead of him. "You can't just ignore history, and I won't here. But the sport I hope to find will recognise that [the success of the series] is predicated on our ability to work together.
Among the issues on his to-do list are wrapping up Lotus' faltering involvement with the series as an engine supplier; sorting out problems with tyre providers Firestone; resolving a dispute with team owners about the cost of parts for the new Dallara chassis and a decision about whether or not to introduce bespoke aero kits to the car in 2013; and the specification of new chassis and engines for the junior Indy Lights series.
"Jeff understands racing and has relationships throughout the industry that have developed during his tenure with the company," said Miles. "Allowing him to focus on IMS and IndyCar will greatly benefit Hulman & Co."
In terms of the 2013 season, Belskus has already confirmed that next year's racing calendar previously announced by Bernard - which include three double-header events and a return to Pocono Raceway and to Reliant Park in Houston - would proceed as planned.
Miles acknowledged that the company itself could be doing a much better job of conveying its intentions to business partners, the media and to fans. "It's not always clear internally or externally what our priorities are and where we're headed," he admitted. "I think we can make that clearer."
Added Mari Hulman George: "The racing components of our business are very important to our company, and Jeff is uniquely positioned to help lead us into 2013 and beyond as he has complete understanding of our sport and our 2013 plan and an excellent relationship with our key stakeholders.
"By allowing Jeff to focus on the racing businesses and significantly less on the other business units, we are clearly aligning our executive management team to move the company forward," she added.
Belskus added that the appointment of Miles in his former role as Hulman & Co. CEO - which is effective from December 17 - was one that he was very much in favour of.
"Mark and I have known each other for many years and have worked together closely since he joined the Hulman & Co. board," he said. "Mark brings a wealth of experience and has a good understanding of the opportunities and challenges that face our business. I believe he will be very helpful in bringing new and successful ideas to the company."