Robin Miller has been included among this year’s inductees into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
The journalist and TV personality, who has been an anchor of RACER’s coverage for most of the past decade, was inducted in the Media category. Others in the latest group to have been nominated by their peers to receive American racing’s ultimate recognition for their contribution to the sport included late NASCAR ace Davey Allison (Stock Cars); three-time land speed record holder John Cobb (Historic); three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon Jr. (Drag Racing); Indy and NASCAR trailblazer Janet Guthrie (Open Wheel); 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden (Motorcycles); seven consecutive APBA Gold Cup winner Fran Muncey (Powerboats) — who is the wife of inaugural class inductee Bill Muncey; multi-time USAC and NASCAR champion Ray Nichels (Historic); and world class timer/scorer Judy Stropus (Sports Cars) in the MSHFA Class of 2021.
Each of the MSHFA’s inductees is elected by a straight vote of 200 motorsports experts — half of them inductees themselves. Regular voters include Hall of Famers Mario Andretti, Tom D’Eath, Chip Ganassi, Don Garlits, Parnelli Jones, Scott Parker, Richard Petty, Don Prudhomme and other titans of the sport.
“Obviously it’s flattering, but when you look at it and see that there’s Brock Yates and Shav Glick and no other writers… I mean, I think about someone like Pete Lyons — he should be in it,” Miller told RACER. “So it’s flattering, but you also feel a little guilty about it.
“But what do you say? I flunked out of college, I’m a borderline village idiot, but I got lucky. The Indianapolis Star gave me such a huge platform for over 30 years, and that was the most-read racing paper in the country.”
Miller grew up in Indianapolis and made a two-pronged transition from fan to insider in 1968, when he started writing for the Star, and also stooged for Jim Hurtubise at that year’s Indy 500, playing a role in what would prove to be the final appearance by a roadster at the Speedway.
His relationship with the Star lasted until 2001, during which he established himself as one of Indy car racing’s most vocal advocates, and most influential voices in the grandstand and paddock alike.
“I had this wonderful pulpit to praise people, and piss people off…” he says. “[A.J.] Foyt slapped me; Mario [Andretti] was pissed off at me a couple of times. I think the only guy who was never pissed off at me was Parnelli [Jones], and he’d quit racing!
Miller began working with ESPN while he was still at the Star, and moved to the network full-time to work on RPM Tonight after leaving the newspaper. When ESPN dropped NASCAR he moved to Fox’s SPEED network and embarked upon what became a hugely popular stint as Dave Despain’s cohost on the weekly show Wind Tunnel. By the time SPEED closed down in 2013, Miller had already begun working with NBC Sports, and he found a new home for his journalism at RACER.
“It was like every time one door closed, another opened, and I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been,” he said. “And you look at today… RACER is a huge platform. I’s gratifying that so many people are interested. To think about all the people who say that the Mailbag has become part of their lives, their weekly routine… when we started that with the Star 25 or so years ago, it was just something to try to make people come to the website. But it has worked out.
“When you’re a kid and you grow up in Indianapolis, and you’re sneaking into the pits, and you’re stooging for Jim Hurtubise at 18 years old, and you watch Foyt and Parnelli and Mario and Hurtubise as they start off in sprints and midgets and make their way up, then you go from being a fan getting their autograph, to writing about them, and then later in life becoming friends with them to where you can call them up anytime… It’s not a cliché; you cannot ask for a better life. If you’re into motor racing, how can you top that?”