IndyCar courting Zak Brown as potential CEO
The new head of Hulman & Co. has at least two different
possible routes to take in rebuilding the IndyCar Series.
Option one for Mark Miles is hiring a new CEO to replace Randy
Bernard. A second scenario could lead to streamlined operations for
IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Miles in charge and
strong leaders running the day-to-day operations.
Which way Miles goes likely depends on how ongoing talks develop
with Zak Brown, founder of Indianapolis-based motorsports marketing
company Just Marketing Inc.
”He’s interested in doing something with us, and in his case, I
think his only interest would be if we put the pieces together and
he was the head of racing,” Miles told The Associated Press on
Brown was in the St. Petersburg paddock Friday talking to
several team owners, Miles and board members before leaving for
vacation on Saturday.
Miles said there are a few potential CEO candidates he’s
”looked at the resumes and thought `this might work,’ ” but that
conversations with Brown are the most serious. But it’s up to Brown
to decide if he’s truly interested in the job.
”He’s got a complicated life that he’s got to sort out, and
we’ve also got to do our due diligence. You don’t just fall in love
overnight,” Miles said. ”We continue to learn about each other
and how we think, and he can speak for himself – he’s got other
interests, and this isn’t a part-time gig. So we’ve got to
JMI does a large amount of business in Formula One that has
Brown in Europe quite often, and he was recently considering a
full-time move to London with plans to search for a home for his
family this month.
”I have a lot of passion for IndyCar and I’m getting to know
Mark,” Brown told AP in an E-mail en route to London. ”We are
exploring to see if there’s a way to work together. It’s a great
product and I’m positive I could contribute to its growth and
It’s not the first time Brown’s name has come up as a potential
head of IndyCar.
When series founder Tony George tried to regain control of
IndyCar in October, his proposal listed a management team that
included Brown and called for him to be the CEO and commissioner of
Should Brown not be interested in IndyCar CEO, Miles said he’d
still like to include him in the series in some capacity. That
falls in line with his second option of streamlined operations for
IndyCar and IMS.
”It may not be that there’s not a next IndyCar CEO, per se,”
he said. ”Folks have sort of thought that we are just looking for
a person to replace Randy and I don’t know that’s where we’ll end
up. First thing is, our organization has kind of built two
organizations and you’ve got structure at the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway organization that has sales and marketing and licensing
and communications and then you’ve got the exact same functions
staffed differently at the IndyCar organization, across the street
from each other.
”So I think anybody coming to it would say, `Could we be a
higher-performing, more effective organization with more money to
invest in human resources if we put those together?”’
However it goes, team owner Roger Penske wants the focus to be
on moving the series forward and said team owners have wasted too
much time starting fires over small issues instead of concentrating
on growth. Asked why IndyCar continually sabotages itself, Penske,
while making a point to say he was ”a fan of Randy’s,” blamed
”We’ve never had a strong enough leader as they do in NASCAR to
say, `Hey guys, here’s the rules, here’s how we race, and guess
what, if you don’t like it, park your car outside and sit in the
stands,”’ Penske said. ”That’s what we need. We need some
Chip Ganassi, who also participates in NASCAR and NASCAR-owned
”They have incompetent people tackling the issues. It’s that
simple,” Ganassi said. ”You have all these owners and these
people and team managers, people who have been around the sport for
20 years who can tell you how to do it, but they bring in someone
from the outside who just makes up the rules as they go along.
”This is not a dress rehearsal. We are professionals; we are
supposed to know that. There’s a fix for that, and it’s not an
overnight snap your fingers and Miles knows that. And it’s not one
guy. This one guy, you are not going to find one guy who can dunk
the ball, who can catch a touchdown pass and smack a homerun. Those
guys are hard to find. It’s going to take a guy to come in and put
a team together.”