At present’s announcement that Roger Penske and Penske Leisure have boosted the IndyCar Sequence’ profile and its viewers’s horizons with a brand new online game comes as no shock.
Penske has reached an unique settlement with Motorsport Games (NASDAQ:MSGM) to bring an official IndyCar game to market in 2023, which can open up an untapped mass-market of racing players who’ve for years been crying out for a follow-up to the final licensed sport that includes the sequence’ vehicles, tracks, drivers and groups in 2005.
It’s the most recent vital step taken by the legendary group proprietor for the reason that 84-year-old took custody of the IndyCar Sequence and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2019 and to those that have noticed and listened to ‘The Captain’ over the many years is merely the most recent proof of his ahead pondering.
4-time Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time IndyCar champion Rick Mears, who has remained a part of the Workforce Penske set-up since he retired in 1993 as a driver advisor, has labored with Penske for over 40 years and is properly positioned to offer an perception.
“Aside from speaking about drivers and a few of the racing itself, I often keep quiet and simply hearken to Roger,” he says. “Any of the larger stuff in regards to the sport itself – the place we’re going and so forth – I’ll have opinions, however no matter I consider, he’s already considered… and often months or years earlier than it ever crossed my thoughts!
“That’s simply how far forward of the curve he at all times is, and I’m certain it’s the identical in his companies. That’s why he’s profitable.”
Now tie that farsightedness with ambition. Workforce Penske President Tim Cindric remembers a remark made by RP after his group had completed 1-2 within the 2001 Indy 500 – its first time again on the Speedway since its 1995 failure to qualify after the CART-IRL cut up – when Helio Castroneves led Gil de Ferran as a transparent instance.
“I am going to always remember in Victory Lane I stated to Roger, ‘You already know, this may be 11 for you however that is one thing – my father has labored right here all his life and by no means achieved that,’” says Cindric. “He checked out me, and he simply stated, ‘I need 20!’ I am identical to, within the second, making an attempt to grasp one, and he is already pondering 9 forward!”
Roger Penske, Workforce Penske Chevrolet
Picture by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images
Cindric is the person tasked with steering the group to extra Indy 500 wins (at the moment on 18) and IndyCar titles (at the moment 15), with Penske now directing his fundamental deal with the IndyCar Sequence and Indianapolis Motor Speedway since formally taking up from the Hulman-George household in January 2020. It was his excessive misfortune to take action in a 12 months when the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the globe, and it was not possible to get even a fraction of return on his seven determine investments.
“This can be a large bump within the street, it hits a bit extra within the pocket guide,” he stated final autumn.
“However… it’s helped carry the groups even nearer collectively. I feel our funding within the sequence and the Speedway has given group house owners confidence that we’re in it for the lengthy haul. Hopefully it additionally provides corporations exterior IndyCar some confidence in our stability, so we will get a 3rd producer and extra large sponsors.”
IndyCar, just like the world at massive, has taken steps again to normality in 2021. There have been apparently 135,00zero followers in attendance for the Indy 500 this 12 months, but it surely felt like extra. Actually, there have been sufficient individuals to create an excellent environment, and a few weeks later Penske admitted he bought a contact of stage fright when he gave the formal command to begin engines.
“I assumed to myself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’” he stated. “I used to be shaking like a leaf, to be sincere with you. You don’t know what it’s like till you might be in that sort of state of affairs.”
Penske, who offered Castroneves with the automotive to attain his first three Indy 500 wins, stated that the thrill surrounding the veteran Brazilian’s record-equalling fourth for Meyer Shank Racing this 12 months went some technique to compensating for less than 40%-capacity crowd.
“We checked all of the packing containers,” he stated. “I used to be actually excited with the end result and to see Helio win it and get his fourth Indy 500 victory. It was fairly particular.” He later added that though he would by no means attempt to emulate his former driver’s ‘Spiderman’ clamber up the front-straight catch-fencing to work together with the wildly cheering crowd, he chuckled, “I climbed the fence just about!”
Penske was as sharp as ever as his legendary group was celebrated on the Goodwood Competition of Pace final weekend, and he took nice pleasure in driving one in every of its vehicles – the functionally good-looking Porsche RS Spyder – up Lord March’s well-known hillclimb. however don’t mistake celebrating the previous for residing in it.
Roger Penske at Goodwood FOS
Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Bud Denker, Penske Corp. president, has lengthy confirmed himself able to serving to RP flip mission statements into profitable missions, and so they stay crucially conscious that racing can’t exist in its personal vacuum however should take account of societal/social modifications.
Final summer time’s announcement of the Race for Equality and Change has seen new prominence given to the NXG Youth Motorsports programme to “educate life abilities and STEM schooling to underprivileged youth and primarily minority kids by means of motorsports,” and in addition enabled Paretta Autosport to discover a agency basis for its “ladies ahead” IndyCar group. And simply a few months in the past, Penske and Denker additionally introduced the goal of a zero-carbon footprint on the Speedway.
This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges to beat. The subsequent TV deal has been a scorching matter all 12 months and particulars have but to be nailed down, whereas one other frustration for Penske is that there solely three ovals on the present schedule – IMS, Texas Motor Speedway and Gateway Motorsports Park.
“Observe variety is one in every of our largest USPs,” he has stated, “and we don’t need IndyCar’s schedule to be the place it’s like sportscars with out fenders – dominated by street programs.
“However any take care of any monitor has to make sense for everybody concerned, and so that can imply getting a powerful sponsor. So we’ll hold wanting and if we will facilitate a deal between an [oval] monitor proprietor and an excellent sponsor, we’ll attempt to assist.”
Offers that “make sense for everybody concerned” is what Penske is all about. That’s why his group has a behavior of retaining sponsors, and it’s not unreasonable to hope the identical applies for the sequence and its members. NTT’s current extension as title sponsor is an encouraging signal.
“The factor is, we’ve belief – greater than we did earlier than – that this sequence will develop,” stated one group proprietor a few races into the season. “Roger being in cost, the Penske model involvement – that offers sponsors religion. You’ll see greater than 33 vehicles at Indy, we’ll be over 25 vehicles and extra at a few of the different races.
“And the following TV deal… I don’t know the way it’s going to prove, but when Roger’s concerned, regardless of the deal is, it will likely be one of the best deal that anybody may get.”
Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, followers
Picture by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images