Breakfast with Roger Penskeby Jack Phillips on 5th February 2016
US racing category nominee #9: Roger Penske
Breakfast with Roger Penske
Vol 86 No.8 – August 2010
He started out as a racing driver, but it’s as a businessman that Penske has really achieved results. And such is the pace of life for this 73-year-old that he only had time for coffee and a croissant
I’m always fascinated by what racing drivers do with themselves when they hang up their helmets. For some, their cockpit careers are the high point of their lives: afterwards, the only way is down. Others shrug off their racing overalls and use the talents that made them good on the track to find success in other arenas. And one or two regard their motor racing merely as something they did in their youth, a rite of passage, from which they have moved on to more important things.
By any measure, Roger Penske is an extraordinary human being. He is 73 now, a fit, tall-striding bundle of energy who controls hundreds of different companies worldwide and employs 36,500 people. You’ll find him in the Forbes List of the World’s 400 Richest, with a net worth of around $2 billion. He controls a mammoth truck-leasing organisation which operates in four continents. He owns car dealerships – at the last count, 329 of them, spread across America and Europe. He manufactures diesel engines in Italy, truck mirrors in England and fluid level management systems in Michigan. He has factories producing electrical systems and truck parts from Puerto Rico to Poland. He is a director of General Electric, has been the chairman of the Detroit Superbowl, and is a former director of Gulfstream Aviation. When General Motors was going through its recent difficulties he made a bid for one of its divisions (although, once he’d had a close look at their accounts, he withdrew his offer). He has owned and developed race tracks across the USA, and his other interests range from logistics and IT to a ski resort in Utah. He is also a philanthropist, and a driving force behind the regeneration of urban Detroit.
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