The late T.E. McHale and Judy Kouba Dominick became the newest recipients of The Robin Miller Award. Established in 2019 by this writer in partnership with the NTT IndyCar Series, the award is given to those who’ve dedicated their lives to the sport of motor racing and made indelible impressions through their work behind the scenes at the Indianapolis 500.
Presented on Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s media center, IndyCar CEO Mark Miles, along with track and series owner Roger Penske, GM’s Jim Campbell, and a large gathering of family and friends of the honorees watched as Dominick, the trackside leader for Chevrolet Racing’s communications, and Terry McHale, whose older brother T.E. led Honda’s racing communication team, were duly celebrated.
Dominick and McHale were never ones to draw battle lines with each other due to their manufacturer loyalties. If Chevy won, McHale was often the first to congratulate her, and vice versa. Their friendship often took the paddock by surprise.
“I am so honored to be here with my dearest friend T.E.,” she said. “T.E. was a big part of my life. I learned from him, I laughed with him. The other thing that gave us great joy is the famous golf cart. And we would sit there side by side, me in my Chevy clothes, T.E. in his Honda clothes, and particularly, we made sure we did that when Dario [Franchitti] and Scott Dixon walked by, because it blew their mind. They would point at the logos and go, ‘This is not right!’ But he was a wonderful man.”
McHale and Miller were the closest of friends, which made receiving the award named for Miller holds a special significance.
“Spending time, however short, with Robin was always a weekend highlight for me,” Terry McHale said. “So having the opportunity to accept this award on my brother’s behalf is quite an honor. But it’s also very special to me as well.”
The award’s name, conceived by Miles, was given to Miller in 2019 using a closing line of “There is and always will be only one Robin Miller,” which has become both a criterion for its candidates and a signature ending for all those who have and will receive the award.
After Miller, the next recipient was the late Bob Jenkins in 2021, and with the two friends who earned each other’s respect while representing IndyCar’s two dedicated engine suppliers, Dominick and McHale were the perfect choices to follow the great Indy 500 broadcaster.
Dominick’s award inscription reads: “With love and respect, they call her ‘Miss Judy.’ Born into a family of short track racers, Judy Kouba Dominick’s life has revolved around the sport she amplifies with grace. Her innate warmth as a public relations leader has turned legions of INDYCAR drivers into sons and daughters, all who’ve flourished under her maternal instruction. From decades of managing the Bowtie’s trackside communications, she’s become Chevy Racing’s heartbeat. There is and always will be only one Judy Kouba Dominick.”
McHale’s award inscription reads: “From his days in newspapers at the Mansfield News Journal to his retirement with Honda Racing, T.E. McHale was the calm among the quick and sometimes chaotic world of INDYCAR racing. A masterclass in kindness and compassion, he used a lifetime of experiences to assist an entire industry including team owners, drivers, mechanics and journalists. While some knew T.E. as part confidant, counselor and comedian, an entire sport knew him for his unparalleled class. There is and always will be only one T.E. McHale.”
In his absence, Miller’s sister Diane Zachary presented Dominick and McHale with their plaques.