“It is going to be an extraordinary 100th running. I’ll come back and eat this microphone if it isn’t sold out, and that hasn’t happened since 1995.”
When Mark Miles ’76 visited Wabash in April to talk about IndyCar and the Liberal Arts during an event sponsored by the College’s student newspaper, he made a prediction about this year’s Indianapolis 500.
The CEO of Hulman & Company—owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and IndyCar—talked about the progress IMS and the series had been making, then concluded: “It is going to be an extraordinary 100th running. I’ll come back and eat this microphone if it isn’t sold out, and that hasn’t happened since 1995.”
There will be no mic-eating for Mark Miles this year. This week IMS officials announced the race was completely sold-out—including the infield. And IMS threw in a bonus—for the first time since 1950, race fans across the entire state of Indiana will be able to watch the Indianapolis 500 live.
The excitement around this year’s 100th running underscores the success Miles and his team have had since he arrived at Hulman in 2012. During three years with Miles at the helm the Speedway has added a family-friendly road race at the beginning of May, seen multiple changes in leadership positions, and made a $90 million investment in the facility. TV ratings for the series are improving, fascinating story lines are introducing fans to a new generation of great drivers, and the success of the 100th running of the 500 bodes well for IndyCar.
“I think we’re making real progress in the place being more like we know and we want it to be,” the Indianapolis native told the audience at April’s IndyCar and the Liberal Arts discussion.
So how does Miles balance the changes that need to be made with what needs to be preserved?
“There’s an alchemy to it,” Miles said. “You think about what is fundamentally the tradition that this place represents, and what’s just habit.
“We’ve done some things differently. Three years ago we decided to reclaim the month of May by adding the IndyCar road race. We tweaked qualifying. We’ve added music—there will be more than 100,000 tickets sold separately for music events on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday [during race weekend]. That’s what’s new.”
“The parade laps, the flyover, the songs that are sung, the celebrities who are there, and then those cars line up…. When May comes this place lights up just like spring.”
Click here for an interview with Miles as he prepared to take the job at Hulman, and see photos from IndyCar and the Liberal Arts here and read about the event.