Indy 500 Feature Story

Local resident strives to educate others on Indy 500


Waynetown resident Randy Miles appreciates all the history and glamor of the Indianapolis 500. Not only is he a fan of the race, he also does all he can to introduce others to the history and glamor of the world’s greatest spectacle in racing.

“I just love the history of the Indianapolis 500 and how it has influenced the culture in Indiana,” Miles said. 

Miles is a member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Advisory Council. The group’s purpose is to critique the museum with positive and negative input about the museum. The board also offers suggestions on how to improve the visitors’ museum experience.

The museum considers all suggestions from the advisory council. Recently ideas generated by the council and implemented by the museum include the ability to purchase museum tickets online. 

Other ideas generated by the advisory council are designed to make the museum more appealing to the young generation by changing the way the museum displays exhibits. Instead of one major theme, the museum now displays several themes throughout the building located on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

Miles noted the museum is its own entity and people are surprised that it is not owned by IMS.

For that reason, the museum has its own board of directors and the advisory council to help make decisions including overseeing the financial reports. 

“The museum sits on the Speedway’s grounds but it is not owned by the Speedway,” Miles explained. “The board oversees the museum including the museum’s financials.”

Miles was a founder of another organization designed to promote the IMS. The group called Borg-Warner 1907 also promotes the track’s history.

Miles’ love for Indy car racing began while growing up near Smartsburg. His father took him often to Pole Day, which was the day drivers qualified for their place on the starting grid. However, he never went to the race and he jokingly blames his mother.

“My dad would not take me to the race, but I think it was my mother who did not want me to go”, Miles recalled “Mom said with all the fans, she did not want me to go because of all the pickpockets that would be there”.

However, sometimes a high school boy does not heed his mother’s instruction. The desire to go to Pole Day was huge. In fact, even when cousin and local library worker, Dennis Campbell skipped school but was caught when someone saw his car parked in town. Miles had his own plan.

“I have to make a confession,” Miles said. “When my mother found out about Dennis getting caught for skipping school on Pole Day , little did she know I did the same thing. I just drove the car to Indy where no one would see it. She did find out about 20 years later.”

Miles’ finally attended his first race in 1983 with his wife Patricia. Even as an Agriculture professor at the University of Missouri for 30 years, he made sure to not miss the race. He made several trips to Indianapolis with students, friends and relatives to show them what IMS was all about. 

One such trip to the museum was with twins, Jennifer Schneiber and Jessica Clayborn, who he had presented Missouri State FHA high school soil judging awards. Later in life the sisters were students in one of his college classes. Several years later the ladies were his guests at the museum where they received a special tour of the facility. The ladies were in Indianapolis at the National FFA Convention.

“We went full circle,” Miles said. “I met the girls while they were in high school FFA and taught them in class,” Miles said. Our relationship was so good I was able to pay for one of their weddings. Then I got to show them the museum because there were in town for the FFA convention.”

Five years ago, Miles moved back to Montgomery County outside Waynetown. He and Patricia have renovated a farm house and two old barns. He owns an extensive library of Indy 500 history and a lot of racing memorabilia. Being close to IMS was always his dream and he and Patricia knew they would someday move back to their home county.

Miles is involved with the museum because of his love for the Indy 500. He has met and talked about track history with some of the smartest historical brains on the track including track historian Don Donaldson.

“I don’t do the things I do at the track for myself,” Miles said. “I am all about the history and educating people.”