Earlier this week, RACER announced that its longtime writer and integral member of the team, Robin Miller, would be taking a break from writing to focus on his health. And it got me thinking — it’s hard to picture such a strong and crucial voice in the motorsport world in, easily, the past 50 years.
Miller got his start at The Indianapolis Star back in 1968, where he answered phones in the sports department. On the side, he would “stooge” for race teams during the Indianapolis 500, which basically meant he’d help with odd jobs just to be a part of the crew. His passion for American open-wheel racing has always been undeniable, and he’s done a damn good job at covering every one of the countless changes and fluctuations that have taken place in the Indycar world.
I haven’t always agreed with Miller’s conduct or his takes. He was fired from The Indianapolis Star for, in part, sending abusive and pornographic emails to his co-workers. He accused A. J. Foyt of cheating and took a punch for it. He wrote promotional material for CART while he was supposed to be working as an unbiased journalist. And he’s written some pretty bad takes on safety in motorsport. He’s a polarizing figure. He always has been. I can’t say he’s someone I aspire to be in that regard.
But his long-standing presence in the American open-wheel world has shaped the way an entire generation of racing fans consumed media and shared opinions. Miller was writing in an era where some of his opinions completely contradicted the ethics of journalism; you weren’t supposed to take a heavily biased stance or come out against the figures you were covering, but Miller didn’t hesitate to criticize figures like Tony George or the entire Indy Racing League organization. CART followers loved him and IRL followers hated him, but Miller made you pick up the paper to read him no matter where you fell on that spectrum. And that is something I can respect. All journalists have biases; Miller has never been hesitant to share his.
Several years ago, Miller was diagnosed with a treatable form of bone cancer. It appears that his condition is worsening now, though, and has resulted in a break from the thing he does best: writing about race cars. If there’s any time to send a positive thought his way, it’s now. Get well soon, Robin.