IndyCar CEO Mark Miles - The push for a third manufacturer
Sport podcast today another interview with sports leader. Windy, because being in the news recently with an exciting new street rates for two thousand, nine, hundred, ninety, one announced in Nashville under the ownership of American racing legend Roger Penske, but the series on the iconic Indianapolis Motor speedway have the foundations of a strong future ahead. So what does that future look like I'm what are the threats beyond the current pandemic in the latest about Hashtag thinking forward interviews in decals? CEO Mark. Miles talks about the push to get a third manufacturer into the series and how. The sport will shape is digital future beyond many a television amongst other topics. Here he is talking to our James Allen well, listen. Thank you so much for making the time to join us for this Hashtag thinking forward today oversee Indiana's been very much in the news. Recently, they will get on to talk about your exciting new event in in Nashville and of course, the the five hundred you had recently, but maybe we could stop, could you sum up? You think the appeal of indicator to the audiences. Well I have the chance as you said in Nashville Tennessee yesterday and announcing that the indycar series will include a a street event in Nashville. Next year to answer that very question for me. INDYCAR racing is fast. We've loved the diversity that we race on ovals and you know super speedways as well as short ovals. We race on permanent road courses we and we race on temporary street circuits and I think that that diversity is really interesting and a great draw for for our fans. Were very competitive in that. That means a few things that means that literally a driver can start in the back of the grid and win the race and that's not something we aspire to see. It happens any number of drivers lead the championship compete in the championship serious contenders Little teams can compete with big teams and then on the grid during a race, you know it's wheel-to-wheel There's passing. And I just think that is always something we can expect today in in the in racing and so great. Great attributes of indycar racing. The other thing is you know our drivers. So we've got the same sort of mix from really outstanding young. Rookies or or young drivers and established veterans, and they go wheel-to-wheel and. About half the drivers are from outside the US Hafer from here. and. So I I, think we've got something for for everybody who has any interest in motor store Obviously. This strand is pulled thinking forward one. We think forward about Indycar from where we are now, we're in the early stages of the of the ownership. By penske. An owner obviously that really understands the US scene from having been involved in for such a long time particularly cars. My wonder, what is the Vision for shaping the sport now for the future? We'll. For now we're still very focused frankly on North America the US in North America, we've had opportunities to consider racing abroad. for now, I think the the answer to those increases. Now, we're going to focus on the USO drill down and really accomplish everything we can in the US market. We are already with all due respect to Formula One I think in the states where the dominant Open Open, wheel series and how and what more can we do that so that's going to mean. In the short term, we're not looking to see how many races we can have. We want to have been very successful events wherever we race. And I do believe that the announcement Nashville is pretends. great things for for the series an addition beginning next year. diversity is important to us. We we want to to be welcoming and extend. The invitation to be part of the series. To. Folks all backgrounds and not just as fans but certainly fans but also in terms of our hiring practices, our own procurement, and ultimately the composition of teams and drivers. So that's something that we're working on very quietly now but I think there'll be some progress and some. Tangible evidence of that hopefully next year. The car will evolve a Obviously, we want to continue to have real passing and great racing. but we'll also look at. The possibility of a at least third OEM. And that'll that's a challenge but it's something that Roger Penske I think is maybe uniquely in the world able to to To be successful in if if it can be done. and. There's some other technical changes that will that will occur I. Think. Not Not next year, not in twenty, twenty two but a few years out that take years to develop. So there's lots look forward to. It's interesting what you say about about manufacturers and Novice Roger Penske's position that because one of the things we're hearing from ladies discussing leaders throughout the series is to look at the participation of manufacturers in top level motorsport in the future because of this period, this Kobe period has been extremely difficult for manufacturers. It's very clear what the rationale is for manufacturers to be involved in Motorsport from a technology development point of view and honesty a marketing point of view. But do you see that rationale changing in any way and? Are. You concerned about the level of investment from manufacturers going forward as a result of of the twenty twenty crisis? Yeah. Well, obviously it's. Hard to imagine a tougher time to have that conversation. Happily, we've been working on it for a while. So there are a number of manufacturers that no our story and have been able to to watch our progress So I guess it's a bit of a speed bump. Kobe that is but You know, I, I don't think the basic premise is going to change i. think it is what you said. It's a development opportunity and certainly particularly in the US market, it's marketing opportunity and finally I think. The value proposition for INDYCAR is amazing. So I. Look at the cost. To be in a Formula One or to be in even, NASCAR. From my perspective on sort of CPM basis how many eyeballs get in front of the cost to have a team or to sorry to be a manufacturer with. Maybe a third of the teams I think it's a great value proposition and I think that. We've seen that being understood in our conversations. Speaking of CPM's of the digital piece has been very important for Formula One in its growth. Since since liberty media took over and in particular finding new audiences, it actually has a data point that fifty two percent of new fans since liberty took over are under thirty five. I. Wonder How he's Indycar setting strategy when it comes to finding new and younger audiences. Well, I have to say, I, think. Limiting media formula done a great job in that regard they've invested showing that it can work in they're having success. So I don't know that we're GONNA invent a new model will be going down that asked. You know we are. Beholden to to linear media in this country for most of our live race exposure I, think in the next couple of years the whole architecture will change and particularly with some many subscribers in cable. Leaving cable streaming is got to take on a much greater importance. In our primary market US LINEAR coverage will for for hot for I don't know how long deliver the biggest audiences but But. Streaming will have a more and more important role and internationally. As. You may know we we do believe that that will be true to some extent in a number of our key markets but for a whole lot of the world streaming is really our best opportunity and I think you'll see doing much more in that regard. Obviously racing started up in the US earlier than it did in other parts of the world coming out of the of the lockdown. Think Nascar first and then Indika. What was the response like to that and what's the outlook there in the US embassy you still suffering very high covid numbers. Yeah You know it was eerie for lack of a better word when we first went back are you know we canceled while when we were already in Saint Petersburg, Florida our first race? The things just took off the events caught up with everybody I think in the states. Net mid March weekend. And then it was the first week in June. When we raced we I came back in Texas on the oval there without fans and you know the focus was very much on. Keeping our competitors the people who have to be there in the paddock safe and we've we've touched. Would it's it's gone very very well, but it's it's not by chance the teams day in and day out when we're not at tracks and everything that goes on at detract since then since the beginning of June has been quite You know. Robustly enforced and That enforcement may be the wrong word because the team's really understand the importance of it if we can't get. The participants to the track safely than we don't have a series so But that's gone very well it continues to be a focus. It will be for the rest of our urea three more racists left two of them in Indianapolis. when the fans I started coming back then you go through this next phase of. Kind of how weird it is to have a relatively small number of people in the crowd. And in some of those races like Road America and Mid Ohio last weekend where they're largely wooded campgrounds. However many people you have they're spread out by by. Nature of the of the venue. And And so it was pretty graceful way to bring fans back. We'll be announcing what will have in the way of crowds for our harvest. Grand. Prix doubleheader beginning of October here in Indianapolis there will be fans they will not. Approach the capacity of this venue, but nevertheless it'll. It'll be more than we've had probably sports in this city at that point. and. Then the finale will be in Saint Petersburg Florida. We still don't know to what fans will be. Able to participate so. It is a psychologically, it's A. An odd strange off-putting sort of process and and and environment. But for the racers racing right and they they keep themselves safe and then they do what they do and. Of course, we'd rather have fans one one of the great attributes I think of Indycar that failed to mention his accessible we are. And so when we do have fans there right there they're in the usually in the garage and paddock area and our drivers are very happy to sign autographs and be be be quite proximate to fans. So we really do miss that. Speaking of accessibility obviously east boats has has really opened up a lot of. motorsports over this over this period. Not only that two people can discover this both for the first time through east coast particularly young road insisted in many cases can actually race against the racist themselves with so many great examples about what what's your own appreciation of of what the east boats period the virtual season if you like did for if a motorsport in general and for any particular. Well, it created the opportunity to put these sports out and so again in this country, in the US we six events in five were on linear television so and they did pretty well in in terms of the audience. I think there's a future for sure and I expected it will grow frankly in many examples, it's it's investment for the sport which one would like to make where it is in the pecking order in our growth remains to be seen. We'd like to get to the place where there isn't any car title. For a great game, a compelling game and then we can really see what the what the uptake is. The first thing is the title that's a significant. Hurdle in an of itself but in we've had events than we have had many not just the ones in this cove season two previously the drivers love it. Our guys really liked to like to be out there. They liked to compete with the public and and so I think there's an opportunity there for sure. Bring back to the what we're saying at the beginning of the conversation about about this exciting new event in Nashville, and you were saying that one of the kind of key. Attractions of indycar is the variety between st coasts as Nashville is going to be the road coast is in the ovals. How do you find that balance and then I was I was lucky enough to cover the series back in Nineteen ninety-four when Nigel. Mansell was over there I spent a year traveling around I, thoroughly enjoyed it. It was an absolutely wonderful experience and the diversity of the different venues was was really very striking and I was always fascinated about about the balance between the different types of circuits. Wha, what is the right balance and how do you work it out? We don't have a quota, but we think the balance is important to us, and so we just very deliberately think about. How to keep it how to how to maintain the balance and it isn't a precise, but it's been more last third a third a third if you accept the definition of those three disciplines. Of quite frankly. You know. ovals. Are are never in the middle of city, Indianapolis maybe the exception and so I think they're tougher in some respects. Indycar fans love oval racing. It's fastest and it's Most hair racing I'm sure. But but then to attract fans to go. You know maybe thirty sixty minutes from the city. Is, increasingly, a challenge because there's so much competition in sports entertainment. So after work really hard on that Streets I. Love because to me like in Nashville case when we put it right in the middle of the city as we do in Saint Petersburg. Florida. In Long Beach California it takes over the city I mean it's so it's it's like Monaco I used to live there and appreciate for one event How just captivates the entire community can't be missed that's the nature restraint, but they're hard to do you have to find. The right combination of elements that will accept disruption when it happens, it's really compelling because it just shows office city and captures the imagination of its public so well so that that's hard but we love them, and then road courses are easier. You know the somebody's already made the investment and we know where those tracks are and it's really a matter of Of of up embracing them in a way that balances with the other two formats. You mentioned also earlier on about looking to bring another another manufacturer into the sport. One of the things we're hearing from a lot of a lot of leaders around the the series and teams as well as. Obviously as a consequence economic consequence of what's happened this year, the sponsors a perhaps going to be pretty difficult thin on the ground through twenty one into twenty two. How confident to you? Robust you'll pipeline is of sponsors. So for the series itself and for the teams, we feel really good about it. Under these circumstances we haven't had anybody run off really there will. There will be some adjustments based on the fact that we expect. Now we'll have three fuel raises this year than was originally planned. but I think people are sticking with us. We're just making some adjustments and mostly frankly the timing of consideration. So and I think the same true for the teams they want to be on the track obviously a much greater headwinds if you can't produce the sport but I, don't I think I'll all of our teams are getting through this and at a quite bullish optimistic about the future. You might think also about diversity being really important and then having a as wide a range of fans and of competitors. As, possible and obviously another thing we've seen this year has been the the idea that sporting general needs to have a sense of purpose just to be an entertainment isn't really enough and obviously across the spectrum from former. NFL We've seen all kinds of of. Social Justice messages, and as well as things like topics is sustainability and diversity, etc. what's your own view on on that and and sport as a platform for for good causes if you like and peppis. I think whether we're business leaders are individual citizens. Or Sport. We do have a responsibility to to make a difference into to be looking for improvement. which starts with acknowledging issues. So I mean that's a very general statement for us. I feel like. The first thing we can do. It is is do things that are more than symbolic and that are more than statements. So we are committed to bring diversity into our sport. And I think we got a lot of work to do to be anywhere near where we should be in that regard. So against some of that is internal to the way we run our business. If you think of our organization, if you think of it that way, it's work with the teams and our promoters so that we fact ecosystem that way and then ultimately it'll be bringing in. Crew members and drivers, and in our ladder series will be an important part of that. Our pipeline does not look good right now in that regard but we're doing some things right now to see what the possibilities are to make a difference fairly quickly as we possibly can. So. Yeah. I the first thing is. We do feel responsibility and sport obviously has As a visible platform has a great opportunity to keep the issues in front of the public. But in addition to that, just the way I think we gotta get our own house in order and and. and. Be a model more than. A symbol. and I hope we can make real progress. Consistently over time. AM. Finally, Mark on a similar theme of the world was moving towards a decarbonisation more electric mobility. I motor sport moving slowly to to reflect that do you feel that the clear that everybody's enjoyed during the the lockdown and and the way that everybody's now looking at their own sense of vulnerability and all these other discussions? Do you feel that the sustainability topic is is more powerful nowadays how do you feel the the shift in of? The move towards decolonisation electric. Yeah. Well the air isn't so clear here even. Three quarters away from California we're getting California or as fire air, and it's true really coast to coast. So it's top of mind not just as a natural disaster, but as evidence of global warming and and I, certainly all these things. Hurricanes in the southern part of this country I think combined to increase. The sense of of. Urgency to do something about to do all the things we can do about global warming in. Saying that right now, our motto is sort of You know faster. And Louder so. I think that's kind of what our brand is. Now, we're not oblivious to sustainability issues. There's a lot of ways we can attack that part of it is off the track with our promoters. In the way we operate our events other leagues have done a really good job in that regard I think. Part of it is on the track and so you've seen some discussion about kind of hybrid motors that's not to replace the basic. Engine. But rather to supplement and I think that that's an ongoing conversation that you'll see some. You'll see some implementation on. In the next couple of years. and then we'll see where it goes from there but but I must say right now. Are Oem's. Chevy General Motors, Chevy and Honda they want horsepower and they They they think that we are a great platform for that part of their market and we'll continue to feel that expectation. Fantastic. Thank you very much. Pleasure thanks for having me. Bank. Music is six am by. Written Mockus Simmons See soundcloud dot com slash trailer music.