Miles: After “two-sided pancake” Fontana race, IndyCar may crack down against stakeholder comments

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Mark Miles, the head of INDYCAR’s parent company Hulman & Co., said Wednesday INDYCAR may crack down against critical comments against the series in the future.

Following in the wake of driver, team and other critical key stakeholder comments following Saturday’s MAVTV 500, Miles said stakeholders can still express opinions, but more likely in a private setting compared to a public one.

Miles opened his comments about the race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. by making an odd comparison.

“It’s a serious subject, so I hope this attempt at humor is not misguided, but I have a very good, very colorful friend that’s pretty well known in Indiana who wrote a book that is entitled, “It Takes a Mighty Thin Pancake that Ain’t Got Two Sides!” The way I think about it, the Fontana race definitely had two sides,” he said during today’s media teleconference.

After extolling the value and positive aspects of the race, Miles then launched into the criticisms he’s seen of the race in the days since.

“What I didn’t love about it, was it’s one thing for our fans and audience and all that and people that care about us to weigh in and have opinions and that’s great. If they don’t, then we really are in trouble as a sport.

“What I didn’t love was our members, I think of them as members, some of our stakeholders, by whom I mean representatives of teams and certain drivers, I thought, really going too far with their public statements.”

Miles attempted to explain the reasoning and rationale why that occurred.

“One way to look at it is that at a moment when people were exhausted from the stimulation of watching that race, even during it, comments started to be made that weren’t so much just opinions about the setup, but were really very, I thought, potentially damaging to the sport, to the Series,” he said.

“I don’t view the Series as Hulman and Company, Inc. I view this Series as the drivers, the teams, and us, and our investors and stakeholders, by which I mean broadcasters and sponsors, and comments can be damaging to the interest of the whole, and I personally think our sport has been probably too lax in that regard.

“So I expect to see a change in our attitude about that going forward. I don’t think it makes sense to go from off to on, from one day to the next without any warnings, but I do think we need to be more forceful in ensuring that no one individual or individuals are really damaging the value for the group.

“On the other hand, it’s incumbent on us to be a place where stakeholders can feel like they can express their views and they are heard and they are absolutely taken into consideration. Again, most of them understand that their view doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a universal view and sometimes timing of a discussion affects outcomes.

“That was one take away for the weekend from me, that I think as a sanctioning body we got to step up a little bit where it makes sense, and I think you can look for us to take that approach going forward.”

Miles said there would not be penalties issued for Fontana directly, but it opens up the floodgates for the future.

“I think really stakeholders, but the short answer to your question is I’ve talked to a couple [drivers], but many I haven’t,” he said.

“We’re not going to be levying sanctions based on comments that were made last weekend, but I do think they provide an important reason that I do need to have a number conversations and will have them, and I think we will have them with some individuals and we’ll have them with team owners and drivers generally.

“Anyway, all I’m trying to do today is make it clear I’m not pleased with some of that, I’m not naming any names, and I’ve said it’s incumbent upon us to be a responsible, responsive, intelligent sanctioning body. But we will ‑‑ I will change this culture to some extent going forward by being more activist and whether we’re pounding our chests about that or not, you can be sure it’s going to happen if it needs to.”

Dutch Grand Prix becomes fourth Formula 1 race canceled this season

EM VAN DER WAL/ANP/AFP via Getty Images
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ZANDVOORT, Netherlands — The Dutch Grand Prix became the fourth Formula One race canceled this season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, after organizers decided Thursday they didn’t want to play host to an event without spectators.

It was to be the first Dutch GP since 1985, but F1 wants to start the season with no spectators at races.

“We would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands,” race director Jan Lammers said in a statement. “We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year.”

The race in Zandvoort was set for May 3 and initially postponed. Fans who bought tickets can use them next year.

The coastal circuit has been redesigned, with some corners banked to facilitate faster racing.

The other races canceled this year were the season-opening Australian GP on March 15; the Monaco GP on May 24; and the French GP on June 28.

Another six have been postponed.

F1 organizers still hope to reschedule those and hold 15 to 18 races this season, starting in July with back-to-back races at the Austrian GP.