On Thursday, Penske announced an exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games (NASDAQ:MSGM) to convey an official IndyCar recreation to market, which is able to open up an untapped mass-market of racing players who’ve been crying out for years for a top-notch recreation that includes the collection’ cool open-wheel automobiles, numerous vary of tracks, ace drivers and first-rate groups.
It’s additionally no shock to those that have noticed and listened to ‘The Captain’ over the many years. He’s the ahead thinker and ’twas ever thus.
4-time Indy 500 winner and three-time IndyCar champion Rick Mears, with Staff Penske for nearly 43 years now, says: “Aside from speaking about drivers and a number of the racing itself – , the actual particulars, issues I’ve seen whereas watching the observe – I often keep quiet and simply take heed 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 all the time is, and I’m positive it’s the identical in his companies. That’s why he’s profitable.”
Roger Penske congratulates Josef Newgarden, Staff Penske Chevrolet
Picture by: Chris Owens
Now tie that farsightedness with ambition. Staff president Tim Cindric recollects the 2001 Indy 500, when Helio Castroneves led Gil de Ferran in a Staff Penske 1-2, after the CART vs IRL had stored the squad away since 1996.
“The primary time I got here right here and raced as a part of Roger’s group, clearly we received the race, completed first and second,” mentioned Cindric, “and I will always remember in Victory Lane I mentioned to Roger, ‘You realize, this is likely to be 11 for you however that is one thing. My father has labored right here all his life and by no means completed that. Fairly large day for me.’ He checked out me, and he simply mentioned, ‘I would like 20!’ I am similar to, within the second, attempting to understand one, and he is already pondering 9 forward!”
Cindric, in fact, is the person who has to steer the group to extra Indy 500 wins (presently on 18) and extra IndyCar titles (presently 15), as Penske has directed his important deal with the IndyCar Collection and Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he took over from the Hulman-George household in January 2020. It was his excessive misfortune to take action in a yr when the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the game, and it was unattainable to get even a fraction of return on his seven determine investments.
“It is a large bump within the street, it hits a little bit extra within the pocket e-book,” he mentioned final fall. “However… it’s helped convey the groups even nearer collectively. I feel our funding within the collection and the Speedway has given group house owners confidence that we’re in it for the lengthy haul. Hopefully it additionally offers firms outdoors IndyCar some confidence in our stability, so we will get a 3rd producer and extra large sponsors.”
Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, followers
Picture by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images
IndyCar, just like the world, has taken steps again to normality – there have been apparently 135,00zero in attendance for the Indy 500 this yr, nevertheless it felt like extra. Actually, there have been sufficient followers to create a great environment, and a few weeks later Penske admitted he received a contact of stage fright when he gave the command, “Drivers: begin your engines!”
He mentioned: “I assumed to myself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ I used to be shaking like a leaf, to be trustworthy with you. You don’t know what it’s like till you might be in that kind of state of affairs.”
Penske, who offered Helio Castroneves with the automotive to realize his first three Indy 500 wins, mentioned that the hullabaloo across the Brazilian’s fourth for Meyer Shank Racing went some method to compensating for under 40 percent-capacity crowd.
“We checked all of the containers,” he mentioned. “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 try to emulate his former driver’s ‘Spiderman’ clamber up the front-straight catchfencing to work together with the wildly cheering crowd, he chuckled, “I climbed the fence nearly!”
Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, Climbs the Fence in entrance of the gang, Mike Shank
Picture by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
Roger was as sharp as ever as his legendary group was celebrated at Goodwood Competition of Pace final weekend, and he took nice delight in driving one in all its automobiles – the functionally good-looking Porsche RS Spyder – up Lord March’s drive… however don’t mistake celebrating the previous for residing in it.
Bud Denker (Penske Corp. president) has lengthy confirmed himself able to serving to The Captain flip mission statements into profitable missions, they usually stay crucially conscious that racing can’t exist in its personal vacuum however has to take account of societal and social modifications. Final summer season’s announcement of the Race for Equality and Change has seen new prominence given to the NXG Youth Motorsports program to “train life expertise and STEM schooling to underprivileged youth and primarily minority children by way 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.
Simona De Silvestro, Paretta Autosport Chevrolet
Picture by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images
This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges to beat. The following TV deal has been a scorching matter all yr and particulars have but to be nailed down, and one other frustration for Penske is that there solely three ovals on the present schedule – IMS, Texas Motor Speedway and Gateway Motorsports Park. “Monitor range is one in all our largest USPs,” he has mentioned, “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 cope with any observe has to make sense for everybody concerned, and so that can imply getting a robust sponsor. So we’ll preserve trying and if we will facilitate a deal between an [oval] observe proprietor and a great sponsor, we’ll try 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 collection and its individuals. NTT’s current extension as title sponsor is an encouraging signal.
Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images
“The factor is, now we have belief – greater than we did earlier than – that this collection will develop,” mentioned 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 automobiles at Indy, we’ll be over 25 automobiles and extra at a number of the different races.
“And the subsequent TV deal… I don’t know the way it’s going to prove, but when Roger’s concerned, regardless of the deal is, will probably be the very best deal that anybody might get.”