Robin L. Miller, a lifelong motorsports fan who became one particular of the sport’s most recognized and influential media personalities, died Aug. 25 in Indianapolis. He was 71.
A native of his beloved Southport, Indiana, Miller rose to prominence as an Indianapolis Star sports activities writer, parlaying his enjoy of several sports into extra than 50 many years of communication that described his everyday living.
Regarded predominantly as a author and columnist covering the Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR Series racing, Miller grew to become a tv individuality to start with with ESPN, then Velocity and most not long ago NBC. He also had very long stints at all of Indianapolis’ Television set affiliate marketers more than the years.
Miller’s journalism career started at The Star in 1968, and he by no means retired from producing about auto racing. His stories and columns have been showcased in Autoweek, Car and Driver, Sports activities Illustrated and RACER, among other noteworthy publications and internet sites, and for yrs he hosted displays on Indianapolis radio stations as he was a master storyteller.
Miller 1st visited Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his father, Bob, in 1957, attending his first “500” two decades afterwards. In 1968, at the age of 18, he began working for his racing hero, difficult-luck driver Jim Hurtubise, functioning the pit board and assigned to various non-mechanical careers. Nevertheless, the stint was brief-lived as Miller ruined component of the paint on Hurtubise’s car or truck.
Miller obtained employed at The Star a thirty day period later on and talked his way into the sporting activities division, where his initially obligations bundled answering telephones and taking box rating information and facts together with Jeff Smulyan, who afterwards owned the Seattle Mariners, and potential Star columnist Bill Benner.
Miller, a Ball Point out dropout, received his initially break as a newspaper author when The Star desired a reporter for the continue to-fledgling expert basketball crew, the Indiana Pacers of the American Basketball Association. Fiery coach Bobby Leonard took a liking to Miller, permitting the skinny-but-frisky 19-12 months-old accessibility to the crew that would be unheard of for today’s sportswriters. Several of the ABA gamers from that period – Bob Netolicky, Mel Daniels, Roger Brown and Billy Shepherd – became amid Miller’s closest buddies.
Miller tried his hand at driving race autos in the early 1970s, acquiring a Method Ford from Andy Granatelli. Two years later, Miller obtained a midget from Gary Bettenhausen to start a 10-calendar year run as a USAC competitor. With support from racing buddies Larry Rice, Johnny Parsons and the Bettenhausen brothers, Miller formulated into a driver fast enough to qualify fifth for the 1980 Hut Hundred midget race at the Terre Haute Action Track, a prestigious dust celebration featuring 33 automobiles lined up in 11 rows of 3. Even so, a blown engine forced him out of the race.
Miller admittedly did not have a mechanical bone in his overall body and lengthy enjoyed telling stories of his racing naivety. This kind of as, he bought a trailer far too slender for his race car or truck – it had to be loaded in at an angle — and he survived a crash into a phone pole in the Indiana State Fairgrounds parking ton when he started off the vehicle without having buckling up. The throttle trapped, launching the potent machine unexpectedly and dangerously ahead.
In an even much more really serious condition, Miller suffered a head harm in very hot laps at a 1975 midget race in Hinsdale, Illinois, when he flipped the motor vehicle into a concrete wall, tearing the cage off his auto.
Having said that, a decade in a race car or truck gave Miller a special standpoint on the sport and the motorists he coated. Over a span of 50 many years, Miller befriended most of racing’s greatest names, consistently participating them at lunches and dinners he structured. He was significantly shut with “500” drivers Tom Sneva, Parnelli Jones, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, Bobby and Al Unser, Tony Bettenhausen, Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan, and late-night time Tv set icon and INDYCAR Sequence staff proprietor David Letterman. But he appeared to know anything about every person involved in the activity, and he could hold courtroom with the ideal of them.
For decades, Miller was the animated emcee of the Final Row Occasion, the Indianapolis Push Club Foundation’s celebration which usually skewered the slowest a few qualifiers of each “500.” He specially relished the occasion when it involved Gordon Johncock, Steve Chassey and Pancho Carter, other shut friends of his.
In 2019, as Miller coated his 50th “500” amid declining well being, Indianapolis Motor Speedway declared the development of the Robin Miller Award, to be specified yearly to an unheralded particular person who has introduced unbridled enthusiasm and an unrelenting work ethic to enrich the sport.
Miller, a lifelong bachelor, is survived by a sister, Diane, and nieces Emily and Ashley.