After consultation with a wide group of stakeholders and interested parties, IMG has taken the difficult decision to not extend the Americas Rallycross Championship beyond the 2019 season. We would like to thank our passionate fans, teams, drivers, partners and event hosts for their support and participation in Americas Rallycross.
Penske Corporation, Hulman & Company News Conference
Monday November 4, 2019
Chairman of the Board, Hulman & Company
CEO, Hulman & Company
Chairman, Penske Corporation
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the beginning of a new era for the speedway and for the sport of IndyCar. I appreciate all the distinguished guests that are here today and also our friends from the media that have joined us here this morning, along with all of those that also have joined us on the conference line, and of course we can’t forget the fans, the members of the racing community that are watching through live stream on IMS and IndyCar.com.
A press release detailing today’s important announcement is being distributed as we speak and will be available also online and hard copies available for all of you in this room today.
Carl Fisher first had the vision to build the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, some 18 years later, Eddie Rickenbacker purchased the speedway from Tony Hulman and Hulman & Company became the owners of the world’s most famous racetrack in 1945. The Hulman-George and the Hulman & Company families have been the stewards of this great speedway for 70 years and more, and today we’re excited to announce there will be a fourth owner-operator of this historic venue, this historic, iconic facility that hosts some of the biggest races on the planet, including the Brickyard 400, and of course the world’s largest motorsport event, the Indianapolis 500-mile race.
The board of directors of the Hulman Company have entered into an agreement to be acquired by Penske Corporation. Under the agreement, Penske Entertainment, a subsidiary of Penske Corp, will acquire all the principal assets of Hulman & Company, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series, and the IMS Productions.
The acquisition will close following the receipt of applicable governmental approvals and other standard conditions. Today we welcome key principals from both Hulman & Company and Penske Corporation here to discuss this historic announcement: Tony George, chairman of Hulman & Company; Mark Miles, President and CEO of Hulman & Company, and Roger Penske, founder of the Penske Corporation. We’ll hear from each of our guests this morning and then open it up for questions from the media.
Tony, I’ll start with you. This is a very historic day for the speedway, NTT IndyCar Series, IMS Productions, and in particular Hulman & Company and your family. Can you provide us some insight on the decision to sell the Hulman & Company and its iconic assets, and what led you to Roger Penske and Penske Corporation?
TONY GEORGE: Thank you all for being here. I would like to recognize my family that’s down in front. All of them are here, but specifically my sister Josie, my sister Kathi, my sister Nancy, who are on the board of directors as well as I see Jack Snyder here and John Ackerman, and I don’t know if I see any others, but I want to thank them for being here and for their support in this decision. It was an important decision for our family, especially at this time.
Over the course of business through the years, we’ve always looked at strategic opportunities, things we might be able to do to grow and expand our capabilities here. We’re a 169-, almost 170-year-old business, and we’ve been in a lot of different businesses during that time. We’ve been distillers, we’ve been brewers, we’ve been grocers, we’ve been produce, canned goods, just about everything, financials, utilities. But in 1945, in fact about two weeks, 10 days from now, it will be 74 years since that last transition of stewardship took place, and we’re very proud to have come together the last several months, I think, to make some very important decisions, one about an iconic asset that the family cares very deeply about, as well, and that’s Clabber Girl baking powder.
But now this one is extra special to all of us because we’ve all grown up around it. Nancy and I, we came home from the hospital to home just right down the street here, so we’ve literally grown up around it. Our kids and grandkids have done the same. Bittersweet, but very exciting for us because we know that we’re passing the torch to an individual who has created an organization that is not only dynamic but it’s 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.
We’re very excited to be in a place where our process took us to a point where we as a family all agreed we needed to have a conversation with Roger Penske. I approached him at the final race of the season, not wanting to distract from the task at hand, which was bringing home another championship, but I wanted to wish him well on the grid, and I just simply said, I’d like to meet with him and talk about stewardship.
He got a very serious look on his face and followed up after he clinched his championship with an email and then another email the next morning, and we set it up. I invited Mark to join us for that meeting, and kudos to both organizations who worked very closely together very quickly. It was a pretty easy — not easy by any means, but this isn’t their first rodeo, your first rodeo, your first rodeo. So they were able to execute around diligence very quickly, and it led to an announcement that miraculously — not many things are kept under wraps around here, but this was fairly well contained, and we were able to really, I think, present this to the world this morning.
That’s kind of the way it came about, and we’re just very thankful for the opportunity to be here today and to work towards this closing. Very excited about welcoming the Penske Corporation, Penske Entertainment as new corporate citizens.
THE MODERATOR: We’re thankful to be here with you, as well, today with you and your family. Thank you. Mark, I’ll ask you a question now. We’ve seen some great positive growth and momentum from the series over the last several years, of course, the Indy 500-mile race, seeing crowds of 300,000 plus year after year after year, and some great action of a competitive nature, what’s happening on the speedway across North America. With today’s announcement and the new era that’s beginning, how can that momentum continue and move forward in your eyes with the Penske Corporation?
MARK MILES: Thanks, everybody, for being here, and thank you, Tony, for all your support over the years and your comments today.
I know I speak for everybody. I think we have 260 people or so that work either at the speedway or INDYCAR or IMS Productions, and it’s fair to say that every day people understood that whatever progress we were making was based on what had come before us. So before we say anything about the last few years, we just want to recognize that it was really everything that came before us that gave us the opportunity to try to make more progress and to achieve more growth.
And I think Tony and perhaps other family members will continue to be involved, so I think that’s really important.
We will make great progress because to me this is an absolute hand-in-glove fit. Roger’s background in racing and his superb effectiveness of everybody that works in the Penske Corporation is pretty well-known to everybody, and as was said, he didn’t need a lot of diligence on the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or INDYCAR to know us.
So the most important thing I think in this transaction in making these arrangements was the convergence of really the transition from the phenomenal heritage we come from and the understanding of that with Roger to what is possible going forward. We are very proud of what’s happened over the last several years, and many of you are from Indianapolis. You know here that we had this unbelievable opportunity with the 100th running in 2016. I think the community really responded to that. And that gave us the chance to build from there, and so we’re still staying at a really good place in terms of attendance and all that — in terms of fan engagement here. And we’ve tried to be innovative in the events we bring here, and I think that will probably continue.
INDYCAR we’re just so proud of. It’s probably been a little bit more of an up-and-down history over the longer term, but there’s no question we have great momentum now. Every fan metric shows growth. We’ve kept our traditional longtime fans, and we’re growing the fan base and adding younger fans all the time.
It’s without a doubt in our minds the best form, most exciting form of racing on the planet, and with Roger and Penske Entertainment as our leaders now, we see nothing but more of that growth.
And I don’t want to forget IMS Productions. It’s a great company that has turned — has earned a reputation of being great storytellers, so they create a lot of content, not just for racing but for other customers, as well, and of course they are the nerve center for the television productions that allows Indy car racing and everything from the 500 to reach so many people around the world.
So the shorter answer to your question is we have a parent now that appreciates the history of the past, the history and the past, knows our business inside and out, gets things done. I love that Roger has said more often than not he cares about the talent, the people around him and how hard they work, how much we can get done, and I know that everybody at the Hulman & Company has felt that way for some time and looks forward to working for you, Roger.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Mark, and know that we have your interests in mind in keeping that momentum going. Believe us.
Roger, to you now. You and your race teams have had an incredible history, legacy here at the speedway and of course in the NTT IndyCar Series. Can you describe what this moment means to you personally and professionally as you sit here today?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think to everyone that’s here today and around the world listening to this iconic event, I really have to wind back to 1951 when my dad brought me here when I was 14 years old, and I guess at that point the bug of motor racing got in my blood I’d have to say, and to think about what it’s meant to our company, the brand that we’ve been able to build — it’s interesting, I talked to Mario Andretti today and AJ Foyt, and we all agreed what the Indianapolis 500 has meant to us as individuals and as a company, and certainly our company.
And I think that what it really says, that in the United States of America, if you work hard and you’re committed and you have a great group of people, you get great success. So today I hope my dad’s looking down at me and looking at this group and saying, Son, you did a good job.
I’ve got a big commitment here to take over certainly as the steward of this great organization and what’s been done here in the past for so many decades. It’s my commitment to the Hulman family. The fact that you would select us is an opportunity to take on this investment, it’s amazing, and I just want to thank Tony and everyone else that’s been involved in this.
Certainly Mark, you’ve got a great team. We don’t have a gymnasium full of people to bring here. When we buy a business, we look at the people, and the great thing is we’ve rubbed shoulders with many of the people here over the years, so we’ve seen this organization grow, and I certainly think that certainly, IMS Productions does a great job.
What’s happened today with the media partners, there’s just no question that we have the opportunity to grow, and (INDYCAR) will be one of the greatest series as we go forward.
I’m humbled today to say that, and I want to thank Tony, you again and the family for this opportunity, and Mark, I look forward to continuing to work with your team in the future.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Roger. Now let’s open it up to questions from the media.
With that, I’ll open it up to an orderly fashion here with the media, if you can state your name and where you’re from. There’s a microphone being passed around.
Q. Why is this important for you to take over this place, and are there some changes in mind that you’d like to make?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think we look at businesses that we invest in where we have domain knowledge, and I think the fact that we’ve been coming to this track for almost 50 years and seeing the growth of the series and understand the technology and it’s also a great business opportunity for us to grow it to the next level, and we look around this thousand acres and we say, can this be the entertainment really capital, not only the racing capital of the world but entertainment capital of the world in Indiana, and be able to support the state, the governor, the region, the city, the town of Speedway, and continue to grow it.
We’re going to invest capital. We know the economic benefit today that this race brings to the region is amazing, and we want to grow that. It’s important to us.
Q. Part of the speedway is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway nonprofit foundation and the museum. What are your plans moving forward with that part of the speedway?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, every time I get to go to the museum and get to see all the wonderful pieces of art there, it’s amazing. I can assure you that as part of our discussion, we’re going to support the museum the same way the Hulman family has done in the past.
Q. Tony, 1945, Tony took over this place. Great history, obviously, with his family. How difficult ultimately was this decision for you and the family?
TONY GEORGE: Well, it’s obviously emotional, emotionally difficult, hence the choking up. But we all love it, and we all care deeply for it. I think we all realize that as a family and as an organization, we probably had taken it as far as we can.
I think that Roger, his structure, his resources, his capabilities that he demonstrates is only going to take this to another level, so that’s what we’re all about. We’re supporting that continued — elevating this asset and staking a new claim on its future. We, with emotion, are happy to be here today.
Q. Roger, we’ve talked about the momentum. How do you build on the momentum? What’s on your wish list for let’s say the first 30 to 60 days?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think what I plan to do tomorrow, ironically, is to walk the entire facility and strategically sit down with the existing team and get their top 10. I always like to work from a top 10 and see the things that we can do to make it fan-friendly, certainly from a competitive perspective, I’m planning to really step down from being a strategist on the pit box. You won’t see me there on race day. I think I’ve got a bigger job to do now, is to try to see how we can build the series to the next level. It will be nice to bring another car manufacturer in. I know Jay Frye is working on that; can we have someone else come in to join the series.
I think we look at the speedway itself, the investment with the 100 million dollars that was put in a few years ago before the hundredth, I think you’ve seen a tremendous change, and we want to add capability as there are more fan zones, what can we use this for, can we run a 24-hour race here, can we run a Formula 1 race here. What are the things we can do? This is a great asset. Once the tradition had been broken in adding the NASCAR race, which obviously we’re going to get behind that in a big way because for 27 years they’ve run here. So I look at all of these across the board to see what can we do.
This business is not broken. This is a great business, and the leadership team that’s been here has done an outstanding job, and what we want to do is be a support tool.
We bought Michigan Speedway in 1973; it was bankrupt. We built California. We help with the promotion of the Grand Prix in Detroit. This is in our DNA, and I think with input from the media, certainly input from our sponsor partners and all the teams — I had a chance to talk to most of the teams today, the principals, and we’re looking forward to getting together with the car owners and seeing what we can do to make IndyCar even stronger, and I think that’s something that would be a priority for me.
Q. Mr. Penske, what can fans expect will be different in 2020 race and then going forward over the long-term?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, that’s an all-encompassing question. Number one, I want to be sure that we’re as good as we’ve been, and I’m going to count on this team here. Remember, I’m going to be the new guy in town, so we’re going to take those plans and see if we can add anything to it that makes it better. But I don’t think you build a business overnight. This didn’t get to 300,000 in three or four years, so we have to be rational on our investment.
But we’re interested in economic development in the community, the Hoosiers that support this all over the state want to see this become and still be the iconic race of the world. So we’re going to do this a step at a time, and I think that we’ve got here probably the next 60 days we’re hoping to close this very early January based on all the regulatory things we go through, and I think at that time we’ll have a had a chance to talk to all the leadership here and get some good input because this is obviously a chance for us just to add our support and our shoulder to make this better.
Q. Roger, what do you envision in terms of a management structure being put in place? I know you mentioned that you weren’t overflowing with personnel so far, but what do you envision as an either combined Penske Corporation, IMS/INDYCAR fusion of management and how far have you and Mark Miles and company wandered down that road?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think, as I said earlier, we have no intention of changing the management teams that are place today, and certainly we’ll have a board that we’ll announce at the time of the final closing of the transaction, and we hope to have a diverse group of people on there that know the business and can support the business, take us to the next step. That’s going to be part of our plan.
And we also, just to put it in perspective, we’ve offered the Hulman family members if they’d like to have an interest in the company that we would look at that during between now and when we get to the end of the closing.
Q. Just another one quickly on looking at the investments needed, Roger. You’ve always been one who you’ve never spent freely for the sake of spending, you’ve always said show me a business reason to invest and I’ll take that under consideration. Are there areas that you see now maybe less with IMS but more with the NTT IndyCar Series where you believe some infusion of funding would actually help move the series higher, faster, sooner, something to get it to some semblance of what it once was?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, let’s look at TV ratings are up, attendance is up, social media is up. We’ve got NBC as our partner, not only the network but also on cable. It couldn’t be better. The competition, you know it yourself, coming down to three or four drivers being able to win the championship at the last race. I think the racing product is excellent, and the fact that we have short ovals, big ovals, the Indy 500, then you have street courses and permanent road courses, I think the venues are well-balanced.
Look, it would be great to have another venue here in the U.S. this is a North American sport, including obviously Canada. I think what we have to do is be sure that we can get people that want to invest in the series with us, and to me, the product is good, I think the officiating, Jay Frye, Kyle Novak, certainly Arie Luyendyk and Max Papis from the stewards, that process is the best it’s been.
I think what we have to do is maintain our data equity and through social media and getting the sponsorships, I think when we sit down with the team owners and give them a chance, and we be very transparent with them and we’ll let them see how they think we can add to this sport because this has got to be done not just by us, it’s got to be done as a team effort, and to me, you can’t walk in here today and make an announcement like this. We’ve been wide open here for the last six weeks to try to get to this finish line, and I think now what I want to step back with our team and with Mark’s team and be able to look at the things that they see because they’ve been much closer to it than I am.
I can tell you what the garage area looks like and what pit one or pit two looks like. I like being in the winner’s circle, I do know what that looks like. That I do know. But I can’t tell you that — we’ll have, I think, as I say, a top 10 by the time we hopefully get to the closing at the end of the year.
Q. Mr. Penske, you talked about an investment. Everybody likes to know the details. Want to share the purchase price with us?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, we’re a private company and the Hulman Company is private. We don’t really discuss those at this time.
Q. Mr. Penske, Penske Entertainment is going to be a new core company that you create. Are you going to be spending more time in Indianapolis maybe from the Penske Corporation up in Detroit, or I mean, how are the logistics of that going to work? And also I have a question for Mr. George as a follow-up.
ROGER PENSKE: You can be sure that with an investment like this that I’ll be here other than the month of May for sure.
Q. Mr. George, when you think of the Hulman family legacy that has existed within the state of Indiana for 150 years or more and just the historic perspective of what the family has really meant for the state of Indiana, how can you even begin to put that into perspective?
TONY GEORGE: Well, I can’t say that I know for sure, but it’s an honor. It’s close to 170, and just this past 18 months or so, I had the opportunity, which I never took the time to do before, but that was to read a historical transcript of sorts – it’s really a book on the first 100 years of Hulman & Company, and that really shed a lot of — it opened my eyes to a lot that I didn’t know. Some of my sisters knew some of that lore and whatnot, but I wasn’t really familiar with it.
You know, that’s been kind of baking for the last 18 months or so. But you know, it is somewhat bittersweet, I said, because the 170-year-old company as we know it is coming to an end. But we’re very, very proud. We feel like we’re going to continue to be a part of it. Everybody who comes here has their own story, and there are memories and the accomplishments that make it special for them.
We’re just fortunate that our family and our family business has had a 73-year run being part of it and being a steward, and we continue to be grateful for the opportunity that we may have going forward, and I for one intend to take advantage of it. We’ll be here supporting the events with teams. Maybe our little team to expand to do other things, which we’re going to need to do. So if Roger has a 24-hour race, by George I think we’re going to try and be here. We may have to look at getting into NASCAR, too.
You know, those are all things.
I think once the momentum continues to swell here, I think it’s going to raise all boats, so hopefully, we’ll have that opportunity to continue to be involved and work right alongside Roger and his group and all of the teams and fans and media that come here to enjoy it.
ROGER PENSKE: We’ve got a couple of extra NASCAR cars, too, Tony. (Laughter.)
Q. I’m from the town of Speedway. We live here. We’re going to miss you, Tony and family. We’ve been talking about you for 100 years, so we have to change our conversation now. But Mr. Penske, do you have any message to the town of Speedway in anticipation of us welcoming you with open arms to this area?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, obviously the town of Speedway has been very important, surrounded this iconic track for the entire time it’s been here. What I would say that the growth and the ability to see what’s happened there is just part of what we see the momentum is around the track. I take my hat off to the city fathers and the people that are there. I of course represent Al son in one of our businesses, so I’ve been coming here a long time. To see the growth and what’s going on just makes me even feel better about the opportunities we have here, so I would say to the citizens and the people that live there and work there that we’re excited to be a partner.
Q. Roger, one of the few things that’s come up that people are questioning on this is conflict of interest. I noticed you said you’re going to step down from the pit stand; how will it work with a team owner running both the speedway and the series?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think as you look at the construct as we go forward, the sanctioning body and (NTT IndyCar Series) will be a separate company, and the other assets will be in the speedway.
And I think with the proper board — I think you have to ask our competitors at this point. Tony has been a car owner and we were talking about it today. I think Tony has said all along, Wilbur Shaw or Eddie Rickenbacker have been drivers, so there’s been some history, but I don’t want to leave this conversation without knowing that I understand the integrity, and there’s got to be a bright line, and to me I know what my job is, and hopefully I’ve got enough credibility with everyone that we can be sure that there is not a conflict, and I’ll do my very best to be sure that isn’t. If you think it is, I hope that — I know that you folks will tell me pretty quick. So I’ve got a lot of guys watching me.
Q. My second question is you have been on record as wanting guaranteed spots for INDYCAR regulars in the Indy 500, which is the second question that fans are asking. Is that something that you can now implement, or what is the process on rule changes going forward, and where do you stand on that?
ROGER PENSKE: I didn’t understand the question. Would you repeat it?
Q. Yes. The second thing that fans are quick to question is your position on guaranteed spots in the Indy 500. Now that you run the race and the series, is that something that you will try to implement?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, that’s been a discussion before, and I think that that will be a strategic discussion that will be taken up with the senior leadership here. I wouldn’t make a comment today one way or the other. I think it’s really up to Mark and Jay and the team to make that decision. I think some of the excitement has been in the past the fact that we had people that wanted to come into the race. We also have to understand people who commit to the entire season and take this series around the country, around the world potentially, we need to be 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.
Q. Mark, you’ve been involved with Indy Sports Corp, you’ve been involved with the Super Bowl. How do you see this change of ownership and this legendary handover of this iconic site and this race affecting Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the overall sports agenda and world here in central Indiana?
MARK MILES: I think the news today has international implications that are very positive, but I think for Hoosiers, people here, it’s even more true. So we’re involved in the Super Bowl here. Roger chaired the Super Bowl in Detroit. He understands community and the importance of great corporate citizenship. I was talking to Roger a couple nights ago, and he was traveling to raise money for United Way in Michigan.
I know him to be a great corporate citizen. I know their company thinks that way. It’s just their mentality, and I think it can only be a really great thing. I think Tony said to have a new — an additional family as a corporate citizen here in central Indiana.
And then to have the resources and the knowledge and the ability to execute that they do will mean that this place will continue to grow and the series will continue to grow, and that can only be a good thing for the city and the state.
Q. This is a two-part question for Roger. You talked about having a commitment to NASCAR. Can you go specifically into what that means, and will NASCAR continue to have a date there long-term?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think you look at 27 years, there’s no reason to break that string of races. I had a chance to talk to Jim France late last night to tell him that we were going to have this conference here in the morning, and he obviously was excited. We’ve worked together. We were partners with ISC at Homestead. We actually sold our business to them back several years ago. So we have a very close relationship and certainly with Jim and with Steve Phelps and Steve O’Donnell and the entire France family. We would expect to take this for many, many years.
They need to run at Indiana. We want them to, and there’s no question that we’re going to look at opportunities to expand the relationship with them in the future.
Q. One thing you have talked about that you’re in favor of is running a double-header weekend, INDYCAR and NASCAR running on the same track in the same weekend. Is Indianapolis now a candidate for that to happen?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think it was interesting to see (Josef) Newgarden run around what they call the Roval here down in Charlotte several weeks ago, and I think it was pretty exciting. I think some of the fans had never seen an Indy car on an oval or a racetrack. Look, those are things, sitting down Tony will give us some of his input and certainly Mark and the team, are those things we can do, can we execute those so we bring value here to the speedway.
Look, we’ve got to break some glass on some of these things, don’t we. We’ve got to try some of this. I’m prepared to take a risk. No risk, no reward in many cases. Those are the things that Mark, with you and your team, that we’ll take a look at. But I wouldn’t say it’s out of the possibility.
Q. Roger, Tony had talked about how everyone has their own story here, and I know you know the tradition here is so important to so many people, from the name of the venue to not having lights at the venue to bringing in your own cooler. It goes all the way down the list. How do you balance progress while still being aware of the tradition and the heritage, and how much does that get tweaked moving forward?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think it’s important to know that one of the things that I care most about are the men and women in our armed forces and the first responders that we represent and compliment every Memorial Day, and then having the July 4th race, think about the two of those, we’ll continue to support that with our hearts, and certainly from a tradition perspective.
There’s nothing more to me, that gives me more feeling than to stand on the grid and see the flyovers and see the men and women in the services each year, so I can tell you we’re going to push harder on that to be sure we respect them and the tradition and the pomp and ceremony is certainly going to be top of mind.
Q. Will you explore night events in terms of racing at this venue?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think we have to look as is the investment in lights or is the investment in something else we can do here to make the speedway and (INDYCAR) a going entity which gives us the results we expect.
Q. It’s obviously going to take up a lot of your time, so how much less time do you think you’ll be able to devote to your NASCAR team and possibly your INDYCAR team?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I don’t know if there’s any more weekends than 52, but if there are, I’ll probably fill them up with some racing opportunities. My wife says, I tell her that this is my fishing trip and golf game. My golf game is not good these days anyhow. But look, I spent a lot of time at the tracks. I love it. I want to be there, and I think that’s a knowledge base for me, too. I’ll continue. The good news is that it’s a short flight here from Detroit to get to Indianapolis. We know a lot about it, and I think with the communications capability we have today, we can be connected from a business perspective.
But from a racing perspective, I’m committed 100 percent to our team. We’ve got over 500 people down in Mooresville where we have all our teams, and with Tim Cindric as our leader, I’ll be working with him just as I have in the past.
Q. You got dropped off here when you were 14 years old, and I wonder what your memories of that day were like, what you saw, what you heard, what you felt.
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I’ll tell you, it’s interesting. I’ll tell you a little story. My dad worked for a metal warehousing company, and they were a lap sponsor, so he got a couple of tickets, and we were invited to go to a luncheon, and I remember we got here, and we got to the house and everybody was gone. But out back was a — if you can believe it, was a show car, a front-end roadster, and I sat in it and got my picture in it. So that was one of the things that really made me start my interest. Then we came out to the track obviously and saw the race. Lee Wallard won that race in 1951, and I think I was here every single time until one of the poorer moves we made is when we split from the speedway and running here for a number of years, but I was I think here every year since then.
To me that was my first encounter with the speedway.
Q. Mark, I wanted to ask first of all, do you think having the Penske Corporation behind it, does that encourage more involvement from be it manufacturers or bigger corporate sponsors who have possibly dealt with Roger in the past and know that he’s a guy that gets the job done?
MARK MILES: We think so. Roger’s relationships and reach globally in a number of sectors, many sectors of the industry and sport, are remarkable. Some of us have to work really hard to get the right person to pick up the phone. Roger may short-circuit that a little bit, and not infrequently.
Yeah, I believe Roger will answer our call and have his own thoughts about all parts of how to grow this. But as he already mentioned, having a third OEM is one of our priorities and one of our goals, and I’m sure Team Penske and Roger will help.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
LAS VEGAS (Oct 18, 2019) — One of the most legendary names in GT racing will soon return to the starting grid at the world’s most prestigious racetracks with an original new machine designed specifically for track competition.
At a press conference and demonstration event held yesterday at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Saleen Automotive announced it will soon offer specially-built versions of it’s new Saleen 1 turbocharged, mid-engine sports car designed to compete in GT4 racing series worldwide.
The new Saleen GT4 concept model – which will be built at Saleen’s Corona, Calif.- based facilities starting in November 2019 – is based on a dedicated racing version of the Saleen 1 model, which debuted in the 2019 Saleen Cup racing series. The single-make “arrive and drive” series concludes its inaugural season with a grand finale event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 18-20.
Saleen’s GT4 concept features distinct changes from the standard production model Saleen 1, including updates designed to comply with GT4 series specifications. The Saleen GT4 concept features updates to the car’s front splitter and fenders, plus new advanced rear diffuser to improve aerodynamics. Per GT4 specifications, a large rear wing is included to add maximum downforce and traction. Saleen’s GT4 concept car also offers front and rear anti-lock braking systems and other GT4-specific equipment.
“We developed the Saleen 1 to be fully capable on the track and easily adapt to racing applications,” said Steve Saleen, CEO and founder of Saleen Automotive. “Our company was founded on racing DNA and the track is where we prove our reputation. We look forward to completing the homologation process with SRO and seeing these cars compete at GT4 events around the world.”
The GT4 category was created by the Stéphane Ratel Organisation (SRO) in 2007 to offer a championship that featured a wider range of manufacturers and better affordability than other racing series. Starting with an initial series in Europe, GT4 racing has expanded worldwide with additional championships in the United Kingdom, North America, Asia and Australia.
“The Saleen Cup has been an important and exciting addition to our race weekends in 2019 and we look forward to the Saleen GT4 joining our Pirelli GT4 America grids in 2020,” said Greg Gill, President and CEO of SRO America.
Boasting innovative chassis design and performance influenced by Saleen’s legendary S7 supercar, the mid-engine Saleen 1 marks the latest in the company’s Saleen Original vehicles line. With its turbocharged 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine producing 450 horsepower, plus lightweight chassis and carbon fiber bodywork, the Saleen 1 is a formidable track car – even in street form.
“We found during the inaugural Saleen Cup season, our test session lap times were already competitive with the top GT4 times, regardless of the track,” said Saleen Director of Motorsports Gabriele Cadringher. “The performance of the Saleen 1 has exceeded even our high expectations and we expect this car to be very competitive in GT4 next year.”
Once Saleen’s GT4 concept car completes homologation approval and begins production, the expected price for each car will be $225,000. For information on pre-ordering, please contact Gabriele Cadringher at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800)888-8945.
For more details on Saleen, including product info and racing information, visit www.Saleen.com, or follow Saleen on social by using on Facebook at Facebook.com/Saleen , or by using @Saleen on Twitter and @Saleen on Instagram.
Photos: Saleen PR
Rain and more rain was predicted for the 2019 ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, but the dark clouds weren’t just in the sky. The specter of Robert Wicken’s 2018 horrific crash into the fence at Turn 2 lurked overhead as NTT IndyCar Series teams set up in the paddocks and welcomed race fans for the weekend. The 2.5 mile (4.023 km) Tricky Triangle seems to have its own micro climate with weather unlike anywhere else in Pennsylvania. Saturday’s first practice was scuttled when low cloud cover prevented the MediVac from flying to the track, then a torrential downpour quashed Qualifying. A two-hour practice session was scheduled for the afternoon once the track was dried. Championship points determined the starting grid, putting Josef Newgarden in pole position followed by Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon, and Will Power. A hopeful Tony Kanaan had the fastest lap in qualifying, a blistering 216.354 mph.
There was hope for Sunday’s race – more rain wasn’t predicted until late afternoon, giving the drivers just enough time to finish the 200 laps before thunderstorms were supposed to blow through. The race didn’t stick to plan, though, and after the safety car pulled away and the racing started, it was deja-vu “all over again”. Three deep in the corner in the first lap, Takuma Sato pulled forward on the high side of the turn and clipped Rossi, who then went into Ryan Hunter-Reay on the low side. Sato careened into the wall collecting Felix Rosenqvist, whose race car eerily rode along the wall but fortunately avoided barreling into the fence. James Hinchcliffe – who can’t seem to catch a break at Pocono, and was also involved in last year’s Turn 2 crash along with Sato – hit the wall while trying to avoid the crash. Sato’s #30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan car turned upside down and was on fire, but he walked away after extracted. All except Rosenqvist were cleared by medical fairly quickly; Rosenqvist was alert and walking but went to hospital as a precaution. A 45-minute red flag delayed the race while the fence was once again repaired in Turn 2. Hinch returned to the race after being cleared. Despite the severe penalties for repairing the cars under caution, Rossi’s team fixed the car and re-entered the pit on Lap 75, and Hunter-Reay followed soon after.
Pagenaud snagged the lead early on, then his Team Penske mate Will Power took the lead in Lap 48, jockeying for the lead several more times during the race. By Lap 115, Power was in the lead followed by Dixon and Pagenaud. They would stay the top three until a full course yellow came out on Lap 126, quickly followed by a red flag to return to the pits because of lightning in the distance. The race was soon called and Power declared the winner as fans evacuated the stands. As the trophies were awarded in the cramped media center sans champagne and confetti, the violent storm arrived to unleash a barrage of hail.
While originally contrite about the crash, Sato holds firm that he didn’t turn into Rossi as he shot forward. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing issued a rare statement supporting his insistence that on the cockpit camera footage, he didn’t move his hands to turn. Rossi begs to differ, and the debate continues. The controversy over the crash was immediate on social media. Robert Wickens tweeted, “How many times do we have to go through the same situation before we can all accept that an IndyCar should not race at Pocono. It’s just a toxic relationship and maybe it’s time to consider a divorce. I’m very relieved (to my knowledge) that everyone is okay from that scary crash.” Sage Karam also tweeted, “Glad to see everyone is ok. Never a good feeling when you see something like that especially when it’s your brothers. Think the answer is clear that we should not be here. In my opinion that question was answered awhile ago.”
Commenters weighed in in various forums echoing Wickens’ sentiment, even calling for a suspension or full ban on Sato from the sport. However, the response from the three winners in the post-race press conference was a bit more measured. Regarding the actual crash, Power said. “Looking at that replay, I don’t know what happened there, whether Sato got a seam or something, but man – you just can’t do that. The seams down the back there, like you’ll see cars move around a lot. And maybe that’s what happened. Being three wide is pretty tough, going in there and getting close because it’ll move half a foot, it moves six inches either way when you’re on them. It sucked too to see it in Turn 2 on the first lap, I feel bad for the guys that were taken out that were in the championship too, especially for Rossi. But man, you just gotta respect these places, you do, in every situation, you can’t screw around much.”
Regarding the question on whether INDYCAR should continue racing at Pocono, Dixon weighed in saying, “Honestly, I feel bad for Pocono, the group of people here work extremely hard… some of the race was fantastic, it’s getting some really good momentum and hopefully it does continue, but (it’s) down to weather and some mistakes that happened on track that honestly could happen anywhere… I think the drivers in a lot of situations could do a better job to help that situation. Honestly, I hope we come back and I want to say a big thank you to everyone here at Pocono, the fans and everyone that comes out because it’s definitely a tough place. Will can tell you how rewarding it is to win here because it is so difficult to get it right.” Power continued, “I agree, it’s a great oval for us. Obviously it’s an unfortunate accident that, like Scott said, could happen anywhere, they kind of got a bad rap for that. But the crowd’s up 15% every year we come back so it’s getting better… It’s a good race track, man, it’s a good track for racing and I really hope we come back, I do… it’s hard to find good ovals these days that suit our cars.” Pagenaud added, “…it is a fun track to drive on, and really unfortunate because we’re close to New York, it’s a great market for IndyCar… And personally I love superspeedways, I think it’s been a bad – exactly what they said, a bad set of circumstances – and obviously when you’re travelling at such high speed a crash is a big crash. Hopefully we can come back and keep working with the people at Pocono, as a driver I really enjoy coming here.” INDYCAR at this time has not announced whether or not they will renew at Pocono for 2020.
For the third year in a row, the ABB FIA Formula-E Championship took over the cruise terminal in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York for the final two rounds of the 2018-2109 season. The open-wheeled electric racing series started out with a large dose of skepticism from the motorsports world and beyond with the mid-race car switch to accommodate battery depletion. However, this is the first season racing in the Gen2 cars that have enough battery charge to last to the end of the race, thus allowing a shift towards a more traditional pit lane and track layout. Gen2 cars have a top speed of 280km/h (~173 mph), with 0-60 acceleration at about 2.5 seconds. Remaining battery power is tracked on the driver standings during the race, showing most of the competitors with between 1-3% juice remaining at the checkered flag.
The series continues to advance their unique brand melding green power, Silicon Valley tech, and going fast with the new ATTACK MODE feature for the Gen-2 cars. ATTACK MODE is in the same spirit of, for example, IndyCar’s push-to-pass, in that it gives the driver an extra 25 kW of power to drive faster and harder for several laps. In order to get that extra bit of power, the driver has to pilot through the Activation Zone while racing – and teams only get the details an hour before the race start. The caveat is that they have to drive off the racing line in order to activate so it does cost the driver seconds, and if the zone is missed – as happened earlier in the season – those seconds are hard to make up without the extra power. Making everything feel a bit more like TRON, the protective Halo lights up with blue when the car is in ATTACK MODE, and magenta when they are using the FANBOOST.
The addition of the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Championship as a support series has fleshed out race days, giving spectators more sportscar racing and less lukewarm filler of previous years. The Formula-E paddocks are still not accessible for most – with limited viewing even to those with VIP tickets, but the I-PACE paddocks were connected to the E-Village and accessible to all with a ticket regardless of price point. I-PACE paddocks also aren’t like those of other series – missing are the revving engines, exhaust fumes, and clinking of metal as team engineers deftly adjust combustion engines. The quiet, air-conditioned paddocks host dormant sports cars with blinking headlights – more like charging Cybermen than sleeping beasts. Drivers for the first season came from various global series including former Formula E drivers, NASCAR Toyota, LMP2, and perhaps most famously Katherine Legge from IndyCar and the now-defunct Nissan Delta Wing program. The electric race-spec I-PACE shares the 90kWh lithium-ion battery with the production model and can reach a top speed of 121 mph. Up to 20 drivers race for 25 minutes plus one lap.
Formula-E is not without growing pains, though. Following the FIA’s decision in June to ban Nissan’s twin motor powertrains for the 2019-2020 season, NISSAN E.DAMS driver and NYC Race 1 winner Sébastien Buemi said in the post-race press conference, “It’s been a tough season, lots of discussion about our power train… it’s been really political in a bad way from my point of view…. Clearly, you know to finish second in the championship is a good reward for the team, but on the other hand I’m sad that what we used this year will be banned next year. It just disappoints me massively because Formula E is about innovation in power trains and electric mobility.” He explained further, “I just hope in the future, you know, we keep the strengths of Formula E which is to, first of all, look for the sport, you know, and not for your own interests… I’m disappointed in the calling because it’s working very well now and we will not be able to use it. Again, you know, I have to accept it, it’s a decision taken by the FIA… we’ll live with it, it’s motorsport, sometimes it happens, but yeah, it’s a bit disappointing.”
That said, the rules and regulations are otherwise working well, keeping the series competitive (sending some side-eye to you, Formula 1). While Jean-Éric Vergne (DS Techeetah) was ahead in points going into the first race, three other drivers still had the chance to take the championship – Luca di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler), Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans, and Buemi. Unlike last year in NYC when Vergne clinched the championship on day one, Buemi won the Saturday race leaving the championship to be decided by the final race. Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans was second on podium, and António Félix da Costa/ BMW i Andretti Motorsport was third.
Ultimately, Vergne did win the championship on Sunday for the second year in a row after an exciting race that ended with Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns taking the checkered flag. Alexander Sims – BMW i Andretti Motorsport in second, and Sébastien Buemi rounding out the podium in third.
ABB FIA Formula-E Championship will return to New York City for the 2019-2020 season, but only for one day – the season-ending double header will now go to London. Why, Formula E? New Yorkers finally “got” racing and showed up in droves, and now you leave us? Is it our accents? IS THE RENT JUST TOO DAMN HIGH? London doesn’t have air condition in the subway like we do, I’ve been there, I know this! Well, I’ll still be here in New York next year, taking photos as the series continues to carve out its own niche in the world of Formula racing.
Over the past decade, Monster Energy AMA Supercross has seen a welcome rise in attendance and popularity. The ever-evolving series has changed quite a bit from the days of Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael to an increasingly data-driven sport with exclusive factory team trainers producing elite athletes. Much like their four-wheel motorsport brethren, factory riders train full-time on and off the track, giving them a distinct advantage over privateers while narrowing the competitive gap to fractions of a second between teams. I had the opportunity before Round 16 at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, to talk to some of the riders, managers, trainers, and Carmichael himself about what goes on behind the scenes to ensure success.
Potential riders are often spotted at amateur races. Interested teams will back a candidate as young as 12 or 13 with sponsorship, even bringing them to train alongside signed riders. “What we do is we bring them to the group and they’re around these guys, training with these guys, involved with their program… maybe not to as high a level… time-wise, maybe not on the bike as much… but it’s getting them used to that. Riding with these guys during the week is the biggest thing, I think, because they see that, they kind of have that carrot they’re always chasing… that’s always bringing them closer and closer,” said Wil Hahn, Star Racing/Yamaha Racing team manager and former pro rider. “We might not have a kid sign when they’re on the 60’s or 80’s, but we’re trying to help them.”
Training to track time ratio is around 50/50. Gareth Swanepoel, the trainer (and also a former rider) for the Yamaha team said that while the training depends on each rider’s needs, during the racing season they’ll ride three times a week, two bike rides a week, two days of gym, plus active recovery days with lights rides, running, yoga, or other stretching. This all evolved in the sport when Ricky Carmichael, looking to gain an edge over physically bigger riders in the 450SX class, hired a trainer. “He took it to a whole new level of training, so now, everyone has to train because he was beating everyone so bad, everyone had to start training to keep up with him,” commented Jeremy Albrecht, JGRMX Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing Team Manager. “Everyone follows what the top guy is doing, so when he started training like that, then the next guy does it, and now everyone does it.”
In training, moto-specific LitPRO as well as GPS combined with On-bike data loggers capable of pulling in up to 12 data points gather information from the motor and shocks that is downloaded after completion then linked to video. Teams then use propriety software pinpoint mechanical performance then adjust as needed after practice or a heat. As an example, “We’re able to measure how much suspension’s used in corners and whoops and obstacles and if [a rider] comes in and says, ‘Hey, my bike’s really soft’, we can look… on the computers to kind of say, ‘Well, you didn’t use all your travel’”, said Yamaha Supercross/Motocross Supervisor Jim Perry in the paddock on Saturday. “So if he says one thing, we’re able to look at the data and say, ‘Maybe that isn’t what you’re feeling’… then our suspension engineers and chassis engineers can analyze that and make some changes.” Unlike many of the automotive racing series, communication between the rider and team is verboten during the actual race. Instead, riders rely on communication with their mechanic and a white board.
All of this data gathering and training comes together at the starting gate – staying calm, keeping the heart rate low combined with muscle memory to get out of the gate as quickly as possible when it drops. Getting a good position on the track, ahead of the field, is key. In an informal meeting with H.E.P. Motorsports 450cc riders Kyle Chisholm, Alex Ray, and Adam Enticknap on media day, Ray told us “The only that’s going through your mind is you want a good start, you want to start up front, because if you’re in the middle or in the back, it creates more risk… you have more people, everyone’s bunched up in a group, you don’t know what all these other people are doing, if you’re up front, you sort of have control over the race.”
During racing season, meetings are on Monday, ride and train during the week, travel, practice on Friday, race on Saturday, travel on Sunday… meetings, train, race, repeat.
A quick primer: In Monster Energy AMA Supercross, there are two classes – the 250SX bikes are the “Lites”, the younger riders’ development series. This class is subdivided into East and West regions for the entire season until the Las Vegas championship, where 22 riders race in the East/West Showdown over 15 minutes plus one lap. The 450SX is the top level of the Supercross series and race nationally, where the main even features 22 riders racing for 20 minutes plus one lap. Each division goes through qualifying on the day before the finals, and the 40 fastest riders advance to the race day events. On race day, both classes have two heats of 20 riders each, and the top nine advance to the main event. Everyone else has one more chance in the Last Chance Qualifier, and the top four LCQ finishers round out the 22 final competitors. The bikes are all from six manufacturers – Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha. The dirt track, like its rallycross counterpart, has a series of obstacles; small, waist-high bumps called “whoops”, a table top, a rhythm section with no drummer but larger jumps of varying size and interval, and the ultimate finish-line jump assuring a spectacular airborne end to the race.
The 2019 season has seen its share of crazy weather, most notably torrential rain in San Diego and snow in Denver before the race. New Jersey was no exception; the track was covered for rain on Friday, scuttling the opportunity to practice for many of the riders. The track wasn’t too much of a mess for a cold but sunny race day, though looking at my clogged sneaker treads after a track walk, there was a lot of packed mud. In the 250SX class, Chase Sexton won the race, with Mitchell Oldenburg and Justin Cooper in second and third. Going into the 450SX finals, Cooper Webb was the points leader. After an exciting race with several overtakes and mistakes by the riders in front, Cooper Webb ultimately triumphed with Zach Osborne and Eli Tomac in second and third.
The Las Vegas Championship where the 250 East and West divisions race and a new 2019 450SX champion will be crowned takes place Saturday, May 4th. Check your local listings for viewing times and channels.
While there was a curious lack of rally cars on the show floor of the 2019 New York International Auto Show, there were still a few race cars to drool over.
Every year at the New York International Auto Show, the Saratoga Automobile Museum sets up a display of some of the finest classic cars. This year, the theme was “Italian” – and while there was no Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale do drool over, the collection did not disappoint.
2019 is a curious year for the New York International Auto Show – at first look, there are some automakers that are notably absent – BMW, MINI, Volvo, and Mitsubishi skipped the show this year. In automotive parlance, the show is leaner, or more “muscular”. However the space on the show floor was taken up by some fresh new faces, most prominently with Rivian, the U.S.-based company producing electric adventure vehicles with a 400-mile range.
There were some significant launches; among them, Hyundai showed up with the 2020 Venue, a new SUV, as well as a sleek new Sonata with a digital key. Lincoln thankfully dropped the confusing letter-number naming convention with the Corsair, a compact luxury crossover that can seat five people. Toyota’s new offerings include the new revamped Highlander as well as a cute Yaris hatchback. Subaru showed off their sixth-gen 2020 Outback in the middle of a rather nice-smelling booth highlighting national forests.
Concept cars were super slick, creatively named, and largely electric – Kia revealed their HabaNiro concept with 300-mile all electric range. The Genesis Mint luxury electric concept was hard to even get close to after an off-site reveal the night before. VW showed up with not one but three concepts: the ID. Buggy, the compact Tarok Pickup Concept, and the Basecamp (the latter two have combustion engines). Another company new to NYIAS, Mullen, revealed the modular, aluminum and carbon fiber Qiantu K50 electric sportscar.
In the “If You Have to Ask You Can’t Afford It” supercar section of the show, Swedish maker Koenigsegg introduced their road-legal Jesko to North America, and Sleepy Hollow, New York’s Glickenhaus drove his 700-hp SCG 003S to the show. Dubbed the world’s most expensive SUV, the oddly angular and very very large Karlmann King will set you back about $2.3 million – perhaps more if you choose the armored option.
And then there were the special editions – so many fancy badges! Nissan was celebrating the 5oth Anniversary of the GT-R with some beautiful classics joining the 50thAnniversary Edition. Tangentially, there is another larger independent booth display of classic of Z’s downstairs. (Not to be outdone, Toyota is displaying some classic Supras – JDM fans, this show’s for you). Dodge’s Challengers and Chargers will now be available in the Stars & Stripes Edition, and Alfa Romeo created a limited-edition 019 Quadrifoglio NRING (Nürburgring) for both the Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Giulia. Last but not least – Ford celebrated Mustang Day with the Ford Mustang Performance Package and hot dogs.
The New York International Auto Show in the Jacob Javits Center is open until April 28, 2019.
For the first time at the New York International Auto Show, a NASCAR Cup Series team has set up a booth. StarCom Racing [SCR] is based in Salisbury, North Carolina with driver Landon Cassill. At the age of 18, Cassill was signed to Hendrick Motorsports as a test driver for Jimmie Johnson for five years, and has driven for other teams since in the Xfinity (Rookie of the Year 2008), K&N Pro Series, and Arco Re/Max Series since. The team’s parent company, StarCom Fiber, is a New Jersey based regional telecommunications that runs fiber throughout the region, so setting up a presence at NYIAS made sense not just to build a fan base and get their name out there, but to network and attract more sponsor partnerships. “We feel like this is a tremendous platform being that there’s going to be a million people walking through this building,” said Cassill in the Thursday press conference. “We feel like we have to stand out in a little bit different way than other race teams… NASCAR teams don’t really come to the NY Auto Show, and for the place where we’re at and the size that we have, there’s no reason not to be here.”
Led by team manager and 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrick Cope, the chartered team will race the full 2019 season with Cassill driving the number 00 Camaro. “…our northeast race fans are some of the most passionate and well educated race fans about NASCAR that we see all over the country. Tracks in Pocono, Dover, New Hampshire, Watkins Glen are the racetracks where I sign the most hero cards, the most letters and trading cards, these are fans that really pay attention to what we have going on.”
Cassill will be in the booth signing autographs Tuesday, April 23, 4-6 pm and Wednesday, April 24, 11 am-1 pm, and Derrike Cope will also sign autographs Saturday, April 20, 2-4 pm.