More secrets of the Penske 'Beast'

“Penske Cars was setting build standards which few could approach”

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Way back Motor Sport became renowned in the publishing world for reducing the type size of a story to squeeze it uncut into a page space. Today such a ploy is pretty much anathema to designers, and probably readers too. I was reminded of this last month when I tried to distil the Indianapolis Penske ‘Beast’ story down into the available space.

The perhaps too-often unsung Penske Cars outfit based in Poole, Dorset, was setting build standards then which precious few other constructors could approach. The outfit was run by former Brabham mechanic-turned-manager Nick Goozée with its mid- ’90s designer being Nigel Bennett. One of the team engineers was Nigel Beresford, son of long-time McLaren staffer Don. This latter pair were known in Penske shorthand as ‘NB1’ and ‘NB2’.

Well NB2 provided some great detail which I could not find space to present, but for the record – and for any reader who sees this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed Penske display –I do so now. Nigel recalled: “The ’94 Penske PC23 with the ‘E’ motor (as we and Ilmor called it; none of this ‘500i’ marketing BS) suffered from power understeer on exit from the turns at Indy which I always attributed to the engine’s tremendous torque. Usually at Indy with a ‘normal’ engine any throttle lifting for the turns was relatively small, but with the ‘E’ engine the drivers were arriving at the turns so much faster they had to lift more, and then getting back on the throttle unleashed the beast’s torque more on exit, causing that power understeer.