Roger Penske

Full Name:
Roger Searle Penske
Born:
20th February 1937 (Age 81)
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Roger Penske is a self-made billionaire and perhaps the greatest team owner in American open-wheel racing. "The Captain" has been winning races since 1968 and dominates the record books for Indianapolis 500 and national championship alike. When Brad Keselowski clinched the 2012 Sprint Cup at the final round, Penske became a championship-winning car owner in NASCAR as well.


Education and racing career


By the time Penske graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in business administration, he was competing at Akron Speedway and successful in SCCA events from 1958. He soon showed his business acumen by buying and selling cars to finance his racing.


He beat Bob Holbert to the 1960 SCCA F Modified sports car title and they finished fifth in the following year’s Sebring 12 Hours with a Brumos Porsche 718 RS. SCCA Champion in the D sports racing category from 1961 to 1963 with a modified Cooper Monaco, he finished fourth at Sebring in 1963 to win the GT class with Augie Pabst and John Mecom’s Ferrari 250 GTO.


Penske also drove in the United States Grand Prix in 1961 and 1962. Eighth in John M.Wyatt’s Cooper T53-Climax on his debut, his Dupont/Zerex Lotus 24-Climax was ninth a year later. Although still in his twenties, Penske retired from driving in 1965 to concentrate on his Pennsylvania-based Chevrolet dealership.


Successful entrant in America and abroad


He also became a fulltime entrant at the time with the talented Mark Donohue his driver for campaigns in the United States Road Racing Championship and Can-Am. It was the beginning of a long-term association and Donohue gave Penske Racing its first victory at Indianapolis (1972) and first start in a GP (Canada 1974). He won two USRRC and three Trans-Am titles for the team.


However, Donohue was killed while practising for the 1975 Austrian GP and although John Watson won for the team exactly a year later, Penske withdrew from Formula 1 at the end of 1976.


He concentrated on Indycars with the former F1 base in Poole on England’s Dorset coast now building or preparing cars for that series. Penske was instrumental in the formation of the breakaway CART Champ Car World Series in 1979. Two decades later, his defection from Champ Cars to the Indianapolis-owned rival Indy Racing League represented a seismic power shift in North American open-wheel racing.


He remains chairman of the Penske Corporation – a transportation services company with over 25,000 personnel worldwide and a turnover in the billions. His personal wealth was estimated as $1.2b by Forbes in March 2013. But it is racing that remains closest to Roger Penske’s heart – ever on the pitwall as his drivers chase further success in Indycars and NASCAR.