I met Robin Miller at my first in person race. He was the first famous person in racing on the “other side the fence” that took me under his wing.
A lifetime fan, I was preparing to dip my toe into the exhilarating and excruciating world of motorsports journalism. And there he was, the man everyone loved to love and loved to hate simultaneously. On that night in the grandstand in Cleveland, he was lovely and welcoming and funny as hell. He reminded me of my dad. Same sarcastic wit, and mischievous glint in his eye.
Perhaps had that meeting gone another way, my experiences over the next 2 decades would have been very different. Thankfully it didn’t, and he would continue to greet me with the same welcoming camaraderie until our last race in attendance together in 2019.
I snuck into the “media bullpen” during the last year of CART. And was fully involved for the entire run of ChampCar, through the “mergification” back with the IRL and the formation of what we know today as IndyCar.
In the early days, I had the privilege of breathing in the same rarefied air as the motorsports journalists I (and many of you) looked up to. It was a big ol’ sausage factory, an “old boys” club, names you saw on the byline of every major newspaper and sporting magazine, and on the spines of some of the great books on our sport.
I was a literal nobody.
A girl with a blog, who was born to a race car driver dad, and spent her toddler years at race tracks and car shows.
My knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the history of the sport was lacking, surface as best, but my passion for it was strong!
(And never waned, even through the turmoil, and blacklisting) (yes, Robin and I even had that in common!)
I’ll likely never know for sure why, but for some reason they tolerated the enthusiastic Canadian girl with the big smile and the naive heart hanging around. Maybe they liked that I saw them as mentors. Maybe they sensed I didn’t want “their” job. (Not that I could ever realistically do it)
Maybe they simply understood that I just wanted a seat at the table and the opportunity to talk about racing.
One of my favorite early memories at a race was standing in the media centre in Toronto, in a little gossip circle with Miller, Kirby, Oreo, & Phillips. How the hell I was welcomed into that conversation I will never know, but it was a blast shooting the shit with those guys that day, and for many years after.
I often viewed the world of racing from a different perspective, and I got chastised often by one of my colleagues (later to become a good friend) for being and acting like a “fan”, as if that was a dirty word, and somehow negated my point of view.
I would always shoot back, “well if you’re not a fan, what is the point of wasting your time writing about the sport??” If you don’t have any skin in the game, you have no business writing about it. It’s disingenuous!”
Maybe that’s why I related the most to Robin.
He was a fan, just like us, and he cared, fervently!
He was honest to a fault. Literally putting his job on the line to get the real story out.
I remember sitting in the Road America media… tent… pre-merger, when the news broke that the series had pulled Miller’s hard card. Oh the conversations that were had that day. If anything it only solidified the “truth” of the story that Robin had been telling. (The aforementioned merger) It ultimately backfired on the series, as we all, in a show of solidarity, picked up where Robin left off and ran with it. He would, of course, be reinstated thankfully, leading to many more years of head shaking rumours, cage rattling opinions, and jaw dropping facts that would come to fruition.
I miss him.
I miss his pot-stirring commentary.
I miss his “hold their feet to the fire” brashness
I miss his laugh and cheeky grin.
And this year I realized how much I missed hearing his familiar voice saying “hey kid” when he saw me in the media centre.