INDIANAPOLIS — Longtime IndyCar crewmember Paul “Ziggy” Harcus of Andretti Autosport was honored Friday with this year’s Robin Miller Award at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Harcus moved from New Zealand to England and began working as a mechanic in motorsports. He later moved to Albuquerque, N.M., in the late 1980s to work for Galles Racing with drivers Al Unser, Jr., and Danny Sullivan.
He came to Indianapolis in the mid-1990s and ultimately went to work for Andretti Autosport, where he remains today as a team manager. The award was introduced four years ago and give to Miller, as he was battling cancer in 2019. Miller would eventually pass away from cancer on August 25, 2021.
Harcus becomes the first winner that is not a media member to win the award.
“Ziggy, you are an institution, you’ve mentored so many people in our sport for so many years,” said Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles as he presented the award. “You’ve been so successful with the teams. I can’t imagine anybody better as a recipient of the Robin Miller Award, so congratulations.”
The guideline for the honoree is that the award honors an unheralded individual who has devoted a significant portion of their life to IndyCar racing while bringing unbridled passion and unrelenting work ethic to enrich the sport.
Miller received it in 2019, the late Bob Jenkins received it in 2021 and last year, the award went to Judi Kouba Dominick of Chevrolet and the late T.E. McHale of Honda.
“This is a surprise,” Harcus said. “There’s going to be some retribution.”
IndyCar President Jay Frye also spoke on behalf of Harcus during the ceremony.
“Well, we wanted to certainly thank you, Ziggy,” Frye said. “Certainly, everybody in the paddock knows Ziggy. No one knows his first name, but they all know him. He’s been a mentor and friend to all of us in IndyCar, especially this group obviously. We can’t thank you enough for being you and all that you’ve done for us.
“You’re going to have a hard card for life. You’re always going to be part of the family. How’s that?”
Diane Zachary of Scottsdale, Ariz., is Miller’s sister and traveled back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this year’s Indianapolis 500. She spoke on behalf of her late brother as she presented the award to Harcus.
“Well, I know you’re a character, and my brother was a character, so there’s one thing you have in common, two characters,” she said. “I know that Robin is up in heaven hopefully jumping up and down that you’re receiving this award today. I just wanted to say a couple things about the Robin Miller Award.
“This means so much to my family and I that I get to come each year and have a moment and say something to the recipient and be here with all of you, and I can’t thank you enough.
“Robin was very fortunate. He received quite a few accolades and awards during his career, but they all paled in comparison to this. He was so humbled by this award because this came from his home, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and his family, IndyCar. They were everything to him.
“He had the same kind of passion that you do, and he had the same kind of stories that we can’t all share. But you loved what you did, and you started from the bottom, and you worked your way up.
“Robin started out here at age 19. He worked for the Indianapolis Star, starting in high school answering Star Sports and giving sports results. When I was a teenager and at a slumber party, we would call and prank him and ask him the dimension of a baseball, and he would have to look it up.
“He was out here when he was 19, jumped the pit fence, got an interview, stole a press pass from the Star and submitted an article. They were mad as could be that he did it, but they said, you know, it’s not half bad, we’re going to run it. And that was the beginning of Robin Miller’s career.
“I just can’t say enough that the night that Robin received the award the very first time. I was at his condo, and I caught him holding it and just shaking his head, and he said, “I just can’t believe they thought of me, and they thought of me this way, and I’m holding an award with my name on it.” He said, from my people, my friends, my family. He said, it’s the best day of my life.
“Thank you so much. I love being here. Ziggy, I couldn’t think of a better recipient than you. Robin loved you dearly.
“The stories he told about you; I know they’re true.”
To that, Harcus responded, “All lies.”
Zachary replied, “I know because I know the stories about Robin, and they’re all true, too. But thank you for doing everything you’ve done. Your passion, your dedication has elevated this sport to a whole new level, and you can’t retire. We need you.”