Roger Penske to receive Autosport Gold Medal in December

IndyCar

Few figures in global motorsport have made as much of an impact as Penske, 85, who receives the award that was created to recognise the handful of very special individuals who have not only contributed a massive amount to the sport during a long career, but who will also leave a lasting legacy.

For some people, Penske’s accomplishments in motorsport is evident in the statistics. Team Penske has scored 17 Indy car championships, 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, and a total of 231 Indy car wins. Across the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series, Penske cars have amassed 10 championships, three Daytona 500 triumphs and 219 wins.

Team Penske’s latest titles in both INDYCAR and NASCAR have come in 2022, thanks to Will Power and Joey Logano, respectively, and this was also the year in which the team pushed past the staggering benchmark of 600 victories.   

2022 NASCAR champion Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford (left) and team owner Roger Penske

2022 NASCAR champion Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford (left) and team owner Roger Penske

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / NKP / Motorsport Images

Penske has won in pretty much every category into which he’s ventured. The team’s original talisman, Mark Donohue, not only scored Penske’s first Indy 500 win but also dominated Trans-Am and Can-Am.

John Watson helped ensure Penske’s brief period in Formula 1 yielded glory, while there have also been great sportscar successes – the Daytona 24 Hours in 1969 with a Lola T70, LMP2-class wins and an overall Sebring 12 Hours triumph with the Porsche RS Spyder, and most recently IMSA championships with Acura.    

In Australia’s Supercars series, Team Penske, Dick Johnson Racing and Scott McLaughlin combined to take multiple titles before McLaughlin transitioned to INDYCAR, where after just one season, he became a winner.

This proves the depth of McLaughlin’s talent but also shows that despite owning both the INDYCAR SERIES and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2020, Penske is a competitor who keeps his team sharp and who still recognises prodigious potential.  

In 2023, the revived sportscar arm of Penske partners with Porsche once more. Given the heritage of both marques, no-one would be surprised if a Porsche Penske Motorsport-run 963 is first past the checkered flag at Le Mans or Daytona, or eventually takes championship honors in the WEC or IMSA.

Roger Penske (right) with Rick Mears

Roger Penske (right) with Rick Mears

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Rick Mears, who won four Indy 500s and three INDYCAR titles for Penske and as an adviser remains with the team 30 years after his retirement, is in awe of his boss.  

“Apart from talking about drivers and racing, I usually stay quiet and just listen to Roger,” he says. “The bigger stuff about the sport itself, I’ll have opinions, but whatever I think of, he’s already thought of… usually months or years before it ever crossed my mind! That’s how far ahead of the curve he always is, and I’m sure it’s the same in his businesses. That’s why Roger is still so successful.”  

The iconic Enzo Ferrari used to say the most important victory for his racing team was the next one. It’s the same for Penske. Team president Tim Cindric, who joined the squad in 1999, says the scale of his boss’s ambition struck hard after his role as Helio Castroneves’ strategist brought glory at Indy in 2001.  

“I’ll never forget, in Victory Lane, the first time we won together,” recalled Cindric. “I said, ‘Wow, this is 11 for you, but it’s a big deal for me,’ and Roger says, ‘I want 20’. He put it in perspective right then; that it just wasn’t enough.” 

That’s what makes Roger Penske so special; his desire to never settle for all the greatness that he and his team have achieved thus far. It’s all about the next challenge, and that’s why he’s the gold standard of American-based motorsports. 

Roger Penske, Founder of Team Penske, at Porsche 963 testing in Daytona

Roger Penske, Founder of Team Penske, at Porsche 963 testing in Daytona

Photo by: Porsche




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