Roger Penske has announced that he will purchase the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IndyCar Series and multiple other subsidiaries such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway Productions. Expected to close in early January, the deal will see Penske become the fourth owner of the 110-year old track.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Tony George, Chairman of Hulman & Co, the current owner. “But very exciting because we know we’re passing the torch to an individual who has created the organisation that is not only dynamic but ideally suited, I think, to take over the stewardship, a corporation that is family-involved much like ours, but with a track record that is really without compare.”
There are no management changes planned for now, but members of a board to oversee operations will be announced when the deal closes. Penske declined to share the value of the transaction, but said he planned to invest capital into the property.
“It was a great business opportunity for us to grow it to the next level,” Penske said. “We say, ‘Can this be the entertainment capital, not only the racing capital of the world, but the entertainment capital of the world in Indiana?’”
Penske said he plans to walk the entire facility and then start developing with stakeholders a list of top 10 priorities to improve the racetrack, grow the IndyCar Series and attract other events, including from NASCAR and Formula 1. Attracting a third car manufacturing partner is also a priority, according to Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co.
Penske addressed concerns on the new ownership of the racing series and his racing presenting a conflict of interest, saying he expects he will take more time away from the pit stand, while the sanctioning body of IndyCar will be a separate company.
“I understand the integrity, and there’s got to be a bright line,” Penske said. “To me, I know what my job is and hopefully we have enough credibility with everyone, and we can be sure that is not a conflict.”
In the past, Penske has also expressed an interest in seeing guaranteed spots for IndyCar regulars in the Indianapolis 500, saying that it’s something that could be discussed in the future.
“Some of the excitement’s been in the past that we wanted some people to come in the race. We also understand people who commit to the entire season and take this series around the country, around the world potentially, we need to make sure they’re taken care of. I think it’s a debate, but at this point, I wouldn’t comment one way or the other.”
Penske’s race team celebrated its 50th anniversary of first competing at Indianapolis this year. The team also holds the achievement of most wins in Indianapolis 500 history with 18 victories.