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BOB MILLER, START YOUR ENGINES

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Bob Miller
Of course he would rather be doing play-by-play for the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals, but Bob Miller is living a life-long dream this weekend.

He is going to the Indy 500.

"The only race that I follow is the Indy 500," Miller said. "I think it goes back to when I was growing up and my dad always had the 500 on the radio. I remember listening to Sid Collins, the Voice of the Indy 500."

Not surprising that Miller, the "Voice of the Los Angeles Kings" would remember fondly listening to Collins, the Voice of Indy 500. Collins worked for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network from 1952-1976

Miller has been the Kings play-by-play announcer since 1973.

"I remember some of the great race drivers of the time, Bill Vukovich and Tony Bettenhausen were two of my favorites," Miller said. "The race would last five to five and half hours in those days since the cars were only going about 130-140 miles an hour at that time."

For comparison, at this Friday’s short practice, Dan Wheldon (223.934 mph) and Scott Dixon (223.028) topped the speed chart in preparation of the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500, which takes place this Sunday at 10 a.m.

Miller began working in television sports journalism in Wisconsin following his graduation from the University of Iowa in 1960. At the time, Milwaukee would host the Rex Mays 150 the weekend following the Indy 500, with many of the 500 participants driving in the race.

In 1972, Miller was lucky enough to take a spin in the Indy Pace car.

"One of my best memories was at the Rex Mays 150 when I was doing sports in Wisconsin," Miller said. "I got to interview guys like Jerry Hoyt and Mario Andretti and all those great drivers. I enjoyed being in the pit and around the drivers."

Though he had never been to the actual Indy 500, he had been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - just not on race day.

"In the early 1970’s, I was working for the University of Wisconsin athletic department and we were doing some advanced publicity for a Wisconsin- Indiana football game and I was in Indianapolis and happened to meet the PR Director for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"He asked if I wanted to go around the track in the pace car. ‘I said of course.’"

Miller mentioned that he remembered the pace car being an Oldsmobile Cutlass.

According to indypacecars.com, Oldsmobile in 1972 teamed up with Hurst Performance Products to build a modified Cutlass convertible that is most often referred to simply as the "'72 Hurst/Olds" to be the Indy 500 pace car.

Also in 1972, the University of Indiana Hoosiers hosted the Wisconsin Badgers as part of their Big-10 Football slate.

In case you were wondering, the Hoosiers defeated the Badgers, 33-7.

"We probably went around the track at only about 100 MPH, but I could just imagine coming out of that fourth turn and coming down the straightaway on race day.

"I have always wanted to go and this year I finally got my chance."

Miller said he would love to see Danica Patrick win and make history becoming the first woman to ever win the Indy 500. Patrick led the Indy 500 for 19 laps in her rookie year of 2005 and is one of the favorites this year, coming off her historic victory at the Indy Japan 300 to become the first female winner in Indy Car history.

Miller will certainly have a blast at the race this weekend…but he would still rather be working.

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