The voice of a sport has died. Longtime IndyCar journalist Robin Miller has died after a long fight with myeloma and leukemia at age 71.
I paid my respects to Miller earlier this year, when it was announced he would be stepping back from his writing duties at Racer. I can’t say that I’ve always been Miller’s biggest fan, that I’ve agreed with everything he’s said, or that I even felt we’d be friends if we sat down to chat. But I did respect his drive and his place within the IndyCar world. It would be silly to claim that he had no impact on my career, if only in the sense that he showed that a journalist could still perform his job while also having some pretty spicy takes. That’s something I’ll continue to stand by.
Now, though, I want to turn the focus to the other folks that Miller has inspired throughout his long standing career — the writers, drivers, and fans.
Here’s an excerpt of Mark Glendenning’s story from Racer:
Much of Miller’s appeal to his many fans could be traced to his willingness to tell things as he saw them, regardless of the cost. He had an authenticity that set him apart from the very beginning, and that quality became increasingly pronounced as the rest of the world began to present ever more edited versions of itself via social media. But equally rare and valuable was his undying enthusiasm for the sport, and for every driver and team who stepped up to the challenge of racing at Indianapolis. While he was recognized as a link to the “golden era” of technical innovation and drivers who raced in the face of ludicrous dangers, he was equally passionate about contemporary racing. He recognized that the cars were more interesting “back in the day,” but had little patience for any suggestion that today’s safety standards are detrimental to the show, or that the quality of racing was better in the 1960s. A letter to his hugely popular weekly mailbag about Colton Herta or Alexander Rossi would be answered with as much thought and enthusiasm as one about Swede Savage or Johnny Rutherford.
And from Tony DiZinno on Trackside Online:
To me, he never saw me as competition. If he did, I never felt it. He was far more of a mentor and guide to help me continue to grow in my career. We exchanged messages and thoughts regularly and when I joined NBC full-time in 2016 after splitting my time for three years, there was a real recognition of how far I’d come. Getting included as the youngest member of the media he pinged for emails, his Indy legends sweatshirts or being mentioned in his trademark Mailbag or silly season columns were among my career highlights.
There were a couple trips to Rusty’s at Barber along the way, and most memorably, a hilarious roast he led of me for my 28th birthday on the Friday of Road America, 2017, saying I’d transformed from a “shy kid who might get eaten alive in this paddock” into someone that “doesn’t take s— from anyone and has even learned to cuss a few times.” The capper was a cake delivered in the media center filled with Milwaukee cultural references and an homage to some inside jokes Robin had had with me over the years.
Roger Penske said, “Racing has lost one of its most well-respected journalists and most beloved personalities. Robin Miller achieved his dream as his lifelong passion for motorsports led him on a path to becoming the premier reporter in open-wheel racing.
“For more than 50 years, Robin covered the sport he loved with a fierce drive, a great sense of humor, and uncompromising honesty. I know that Robin was truly touched by the support he received across the motorsport community over these last few months as he battled his illness.”
Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp., added, “Robin was both a true friend and trusted confidant who never shied away from giving his honest opinion and blunt, but often invaluable, advice. Nobody loved racing more, he was a true joy to work with and left an unforgettable and absolutely unique mark on both IndyCar and the Racing Capital of the World.”