Damian Gardner was the big...
Damian Gardner was the big winner in the Bubba Army Sprint Nationals taking feature wins on both nights. Here, Bryan Clauson and Brady Short finished Second and Third respectively on night No. 1.
While things are certainly going well at USAC, there are still challenges. "They're all covered up and they really need another body in there to deal with us," says USAC veteran Jerry Coons Jr. As USAC has grown its competition base by more than 120 percent in 12 months it hasn't added staff.
"I am looking for a leader in engineering who can look at things like Midget motors and can say where do we have to go in 2013?" explains Miller. "What are the more economical engine platforms that can increase car counts and bring the cost down to $12,000? I'm looking for somebody who would be an at-track leader and an in-house leader. So I've got my eyes open but again being a non-profit...great engineers in Detroit make $150,000-200,000 a year, and we're not at that level."
Beyond adding staff to deal with internal technical issues Miller sees his overall biggest challenge to be establishing a common vision for their competition base and fans to move forward together. "I think the sport is very fractured. I think there's a lot of frustration that's all borne out of money. This sport costs a lot of money and all business owners are struggling, our sport is built by small business owners. Track owners are struggling. It used to be you could hang out a sign saying, 'hey, we're having a USAC race' and fans would show up; now they have to promote. So putting the common mission together that people understand that we have to work together to make this thing thrive is extremely important."
That said, Miller is candid about where he sits, "I'm happy on the business side of USAC, I'm not happy on the competition side of USAC. We've grown our competition base and we've financially met our goals. But competitors are looking for a strong-willed individual to be the key guy on the tech side and we don't have that internally right now."
What Others Are Saying
Reknown radio host, racer,...
Reknown radio host, racer, and team owner Bubba the Love Sponge, is shown here with his son Tyler, who races in the .25 Midget Division of USAC.
"Obviously, the model that was there was not working. You can't fix something that took 5-7 years to run downhill in 2 years, I don't think." says Coons Jr. "I think some of the changes they're making could be positive like the new Driver's Championship and some of them are going to be controversial like the rev limiters (on the Midgets).
"Overall, I like the direction they're going. The biggest thing holding them back is a major title sponsor. I think if they had that, they'd be able to accelerate what they're doing.
"Look at NASCAR, it wouldn't be doing what it's doing without Sprint or Nationwide. Now, AmsOil has come on board with the Sprint Cars but I'm talking about a multimillion dollar sponsor for the whole sanction."
Like Coons, Tony Stewart Racing driver, Levi Jones has a positive attitude toward USAC's new direction. "I'm excited to be a part of USAC now. The direction they're going now is the direction we probably should have gone when I first got into USAC in 2001. But better late than never."
"Kevin Miller has been a shot of good medicine for USAC," says Bubba. "He's very innovative. For example, he's the one who thought of the new Midget program, meaning competition to QMA."
As a sanctioning organization, USAC is also looking beyond the traditional open wheel oval track racing that most people are familiar with. It already has a partnership with TORC where it acts as the sanction and TORC does all the marketing. It is once again partners with Pikes Peak Hill Climb for 2010 and Miller promises there'll be more.
"You'll see the diversity of USAC unfold in 2010. Our website will have a new interface to show the diverse motorsports platforms that we offer and we'll start promoting more of the United States Auto Club like we did in the past when we had IndyCars and Stock Cars in our portfolio."
It's a philosophy he learned at Mopar-look in your past and you'll find your future. "So here at USAC we looked into our past and we used to be an auto club that sanctioned races. Why can't we do that again today?