Visionary: "The Captain" Roger Penske
The Amelia’s Silver Anniversary honoree entered American auto racing at a time when racing was either blue collar -- dirt and oval track racing -- or the blue blood motorsport of the amateurs who embraced the Sports Car Club of America’s NO PROFESSIONAL RACING edict. Yet Roger Penske, in just five pro sports car races, won over $34,500 1963-dollars, half again more than the winner of the 1963 Daytona 500.
Penske won his first national championship -- SCCA D Modified -- in 1961 racing a Maserati T61 and a Cooper Monaco.
named him “Driver of the Year.”
He retired from the cockpit with a stunning record of 51 victories in 130 races. He also logged top-five finishes in another 60 races. That record stands with even the greatest racers. Yet it was merely preface.
Penske applied solid business practices and an insistence that every component of his racing organization be executed to the highest standards. In 1962 he brought Dow-Jones-listed commercial sponsorship to sports car racing changing American road racing and leaving his mark on North American motorsport forever.
In 1966 he formed Roger Penske Racing. That ultimately became Team Penske logging a stunning 18 victories (a record) in the Indianapolis 500, multiple wins in NASCAR, victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 hours of Sebring plus a trio of Trans-Am Championships. Penske delivered McLaren’s first Indy 500 victory in 1972 and Porsche’s first Can-Am title in the same year. In all, Penske racers have earned more than 500 race victories, 591 pole positions and 34 championships.