Think of the Indianapolis 500 and there are many worthy but only a few names uttered as truly synonymous with the great race. Names such as Hulman, Foyt and “Gasoline Alley” sum up so many great years of history at the iconic circuit. Another name mentioned in the same breath, and rightly so, would be the name of Roger Penske.
Our IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon profiles this giant of the IndyCar scene…
Roger Penske first started buying and selling race cars in 1958 at age 21, and even competed in two Formula 1 races, however it was domestic racing that Roger was focused on, forming Penske Racing in 1965. Roger never personally competed in the Indy 500, as he gave away a chance to do so to an unknown rookie at the time by the name of Mario Andretti.
Success as a team owner came relatively quickly, as Team Penske won its 4th attempt at the Indy 500 in its 7th year of existence, with Mark Donohue behind the wheel in 1972. The 1980’s and early 90’s though were where Team Penske really came into their own. With 8 Indy 500 wins between 1981 and 1994, it was the all-too-familiar sight of orange and white at the front most of the time.
Since then, Team Penske have been regular frontrunners and have seen plenty of famous names pass through its doors, such as all three Unsers, Rick Mears and Emerson Fittipaldi, just to name a few. Nowadays, Penske regularly find themselves fighting with Ganassi Racing, but are usually in contention when it counts. Roger Penske wouldn’t have it any other way.