Robin Miller, At Large, Class of 2021
It was May 1957 and Bob Miller packed his son into the family car and headed north to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Soon after Bob and Robin found their seats, Tony Bettenhausen came rumbling over the bricks in his powerful Novi. With the sound still reverberating in his ears, Robin Miller was hooked for life.
Over six decades later, his love of racing never wavered. While Miller's name is synonymous with IndyCar competition, in reality he was equally enthralled watching midgets slice and dice at Kokomo or sprint cars ripping through a rutted corner at Terre Haute. Miller's fandom led to a chance to stooge for Jim Hurtubise at Indianapolis. While this story did not unfold exactly as planned, Jim's heart was softened by Miller's enthusiasm and the young charge would remain forever loyal to his hero.
Unwilling to stand on the sidelines, Miller tried his hand at Formula Ford racing, but secured a stronger foothold behind the wheel of a midget. Perhaps more than anything, sliding into the cockpit provided perspective enjoyed by few of his peers.
In 1968 Miller joined the staff of the Indianapolis Star. He would remain employed by the Circle City's largest newspaper until 2001. In that time, he became one of the most important voices in motorsports, one column and one report at a time. Miller could be witty, a booster, as well as a provocateur. He was willing to praise, but equally willing to challenge — and it didn't matter if your name was Cogan, Foyt, Penske, or Coyne.
His primary job was to be a motorsports journalist, in the true sense of the word, and by any measure he was one of the best. He covered some of the highest profile events and rubbed shoulders with the giants of the industry. Yet, he also cared about the anonymous soul who toils at a county fairgrounds far from the spotlight.
A broader audience became acquainted with Miller as he shared his insights beyond the printed page. He began with ESPN in 1999 on RPM2 and worked for the SPEED Channel on such shows as WindTunnel and The SPEED Report. In 2011, he began his tenure with NBC. He also made an active contribution to print and digital media through RACER magazine.
First and foremost, Miller was his own man. He could be loud, brash, outrageous, and confrontational. Robin was also exceptionally kind, loyal, and considerate, and always lent a hand to members of the racing community in need. Because he never shied from speaking his mind, it left some to ponder how he thrived. In the end the answer to that riddle is rather simple.
Miller was passionate about this sport like few others.
He cared deeply for the health and survival of racing, and the men and women who put it all on the line. Even his loudest critics were forced to admit this. In the final analysis, there is little question that Robin Miller was a giant in motorsports media, and by extension, a powerful force in racing.
By Patrick Sullivan
Dr. Patrick Sullivan is an Associate Dean, Indiana University School of Social Work. A longtime announcer, and a feature writer for Sprint Car & Midget Magazine and National Speed Sport News, Sullivan is a member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.