Here’s how the Penske deal to purchase IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway came together

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November 05, 2019 10:33 AM

Here’s how the Penske deal to purchase IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway came together

Art of the IndyCar deal: Roger Penske’s latest megadeal fell right in his lap

Steven Cole Smith

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Joe Skibinski/IMS

Roger Penske added the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NTT IndyCar Series to his stable of businesses on Monday.

Mother Teresa, John Wayne, Babe Ruth, Elvis Presley, Thurgood Marshall, Margaret Thatcher, Aretha Franklin—and Roger Penske. They’ve all been given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with Penske the most recent recipient, when President Donald Trump awarded it to longtime friend Penske on Oct. 24.
“No detail is ever too small, no effort too great for Roger. He’s relentless, I can tell you that,” Trump said at the ceremony.
“No matter what you do,” Trump said to Penske, “it turns to gold.”
Roger Penske’s latest business deal, the purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NTT IndyCar Series, caps a stellar career for the 82-year-old from Shaker Heights, Ohio. But unlike most of the Penske Corp.’s business acquisitions, this one came on a silver platter, when Hulman & Co. chairman Tony George reached out to Penske.
“I approached him at the final race of the (IndyCar) season, not wanting to distract from the task at hand, which was bringing home another championship,” George said. “I just simply said, I’d like to meet with him and talk about stewardship. He got a very serious look on his face and followed up after he clinched his championship with an email, and then another email the next morning, and we set it up.”

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This is not, as George said, Penske’s first rodeo when it comes to business.
The Penske Corp. manages businesses that generate $32 billion a year, operating in over 3,660 locations on five continents, employing more than 64,000 people. More than 27,000 of them work for Penske Automotive Group, which operates Penskecars.com—“Over 40 brands, nearly 40,000 vehicles!” it says, at 150 dealerships in the U.S. And that is separate from Penske Motor Group, which runs another group of dealerships, including Longo Toyota in El Monte, California, the world’s largest dealership. And there’s Penske Truck Rental, Penske Truck Leasing, Penske Logistics, Penske Vehicle Services—that scratches the surface of the companies Roger Penske is involved with.
And he is uniquely hands-on—the manager of a Penske auto dealership once told us that they have flight controllers at the local airport on retainer: Penske is known for flying in and making spot-checks at his stores, and if the controllers hear of a jet with Penske’s tail number in range, they call the dealer, and they have a few extra minutes to tidy things up before Penske arrives. That’s a Penske trademark—his IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA shops are absolutely spotless, and he virtually invented the black slacks, pressed-white-shirt uniform for his employees at the racetrack.

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There’s no question that Penske’s success in motorsports is simply staggering—with victories in NASCAR, CART, IMSA, ALMS, Trans Am, Can Am, Formula 1, USAC, SCCA, Australian Supercars, USRRC, Grand Am, ARCA and others—Indy cars in general, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in particular, have been Penske’s true love, ever since his first encounter with the track 68 years ago.
“I really have to wind back to 1951 when my dad brought me here when I was 14 years old. I guess at that point, the bug of motor racing got in my blood,” Penske said. As far as his success goes: “In the United States of America, if you work hard and you’re committed and you have a great group of people, you get great success. So today, I hope my dad’s looking down at me, and looking at this group, and saying, ‘Son, you did a good job.’”
Indeed, Penske’s father instilled in him a philosophy summed up in what became a motto: “Effort equals success.” He even gives out coins with that saying on one side, “Penske” on the other.
Penske’s father, Julius, worked for a metal warehousing company in Cleveland, Ohio, and supported his son’s early interest in cars—buying them, fixing them, selling them, eventually racing them. His first job was working for a Jaguar dealership as what he describes as “a lot boy.”

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Penske was a winning driver in the SCCA and other racing bodies, and drove in two Formula 1 races, but even then seemed to know his career would not be behind the wheel. He retired as a racer in 1965 to concentrate on his first car dealership, a Chevrolet store in Philadelphia. He started at McKean Chevrolet as general manager in 1963, bought it in 1965 and changed the name to Roger Penske Chevrolet. In 1969, he bought a “car and truck business” in Reading, Pennsylvania, which eventually turned into Penske Truck Leasing.
“I think what happened is I’ve taken racing and used it as a common thread through our businesses through the last 50 years,” Penske told Automotive News. “What it does is it demonstrates your competitive edge, your execution, your quality and certainly your attention to detail, and the importance of discipline. All of those things have come out of the racing side.”

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As far as Roger Penske’s personal life goes, “quiet” may be the best way to describe it. He has two sons with Lisa, his first wife: Roger Penske Jr. and his younger brother, Greg. Penske has been married to Kathy, his second wife, for 46 years, and they have three children: Mark, Jay and his only daughter, Blair. Son Greg, chairman and CEO of Penske Motor Group, donated a kidney to his father, transplanted in 2017. Penske had bladder cancer in 2005, which forced the removal of one of his kidneys.
Penske said Monday that he is winding down his self-imposed duties atop the pit box of his race teams, and it’s likely that his valued right-hand racing man, Tim Cindric, will assume even more control over Team Penske.
But this next May, when Roger Penske tries for a staggering 19th win in the Indianapolis 500, he’ll do it at a track he owns, in a series he owns. Let’s face it: He’s owned Indy for years—this just makes it formal.

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Source:https://autoweek.com/article/indycar/heres-how-penske-deal-purchase-indycar-indianapolis-motor-speedway-came-together

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