Top drawer executive jets are essential tools for the world’s top racing team owners. In America, guys like Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi damn near live in their aircraft as they commute to most every NASCAR and IndyCar race. Ganassi also flies to most Grand-Am races and both of them operate their ‘planes like you and I use our road cars with Penske also flying around the world on business on almost a weekly basis.
Penske flies out of Detroit near his corporate offices in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and his NASCAR and IndyCar teams operate out of a giant facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, complete with wind tunnel plus a new test track under construction. Ganassi lives in Pittsburgh where his Citation Ten is based. His IndyCar and Grand-Am teams live under the same roof in Indianapolis, around an hour’s flight west, and his NASCAR operation is located in Concord, North Carolina, a little over an hour’s flight to the south.
Penske reports that he covers more than 500,000 miles per year aboard his Gulfstream – that’s a daily average of around four hours flying time! – while Ganassi says he spent 370 hours in the air last year averaging between 375-400 knots air speed. On a recent flight Ganassi’s Citation Ten set a new speed record for the fastest civil aircraft in the world at Mach 0.935. This was Mach 0.010 faster than the maximum speed a Citation Ten or any other civil jet has previously recorded.
“My teams compete in nearly 70 races a year and I try to make it to as many as I can,” said Ganassi. “The races might be on the same weekend and sometimes even on the same day and thousands of miles apart. So like any business owner, time is one of my most valuable assets. This airplane shrinks the map for me and has become a vital piece of my business allowing me to spend more time at the track and with my teams. You couldn’t put a value on how important it is to my business.”
This past weekend Penske and Ganassi were in Bristol, Tennessee for Saturday night’s NASCAR race and after the three-hour race they flew 2,000 miles west to California in their respective jets so they could be on the job in their team’s scoring stands at Sonoma for Sunday’s IndyCar race. It’s a punishing schedule, week in, week out, through most months of the year, but for Penske and Ganassi it’s a way of life. High fliers in fact and in deeds too.