A well-kept secret became public the day after the US Grand Prix: Penske Corporation has purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Speedway had been in Indiana’s Hulman George family since Tony Hulman Jr paid $750,000 for it at the end of World War 2.
One of the most iconic racing venues in the world, with ground first broken in 1909, it was an emotional moment for Tony George Jr as he passed over the reins to Roger Penske last Monday.
Billionaire Penske, 82, is steeped in the sport. His team boasts a record 18 Indy 500 wins. As Fernando Alonso knows, that doesn’t come easy...
SOUNDBITE: FERNANDO ALONSO
2-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“In terms of winning, we understand how difficult it is. We respect a lot the race. We respect our competitors and you need a little bit of luck as well — it has to be your day and probably the race has to choose you, in a way, to win. So, you know, we are aware of that.”
But, could Roger Penske choose to try and bring Formula 1 back to Indianapolis? Lewis Hamilton’s second GP win, back in 2007, was the last time F1 cars raced at Indy. But Liberty Media is keen to expand F1’s reach in North America and Penske is open to all options.
SOUNDBITE (English) ROGER PENSKE,
CHAIRMAN, PENSKE CORPORATION:
“Can we run a 24-hour race here, can we run a Formula 1 race here? What are the things that we can do?”
Perhaps less well-known is that Penske’s first Indy 500 winner Mark Donohue, a close friend, lost his life three years later driving for Penske in Formula 1 at the 1975 Austrian GP.
A year later, at the same Osterreichring track, Irish driver John Watson scored the teams one and only F1 victory driving the beautiful Penske PC4. It remains the last Grand Prix to be won by an American Constructor.