INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Roger Penske’s announced purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its properties reverberated literally throughout the world of motorsports racing and the town of Speedway just outside the front door of the track.
“Our history is intertwined and so is our future,” said Speedway Town Manager Jacob Blasdel. “It seems positive and I’ve had a chance to talk to Roger a couple times now and he’s very interested in the town.”
During Monday’s sale announcement, Penske suggested night racing, a 24-hour race, a return of Formula 1 and other fan enhancements could be part of the plan.
“He’s excited to work with us and he talked about making this a true destination and entertainment capitol of the world and not just racing capitol of the world, and in my conversations so far with him, he seems really behind that vision,” said Blasdel. “He’s talking about a thousand acres and a lot of that’s outside of the track, not inside, and he has a lot of ideas of what he wants to do.”
Since adoption of its 2005 master plan, Speedway has benefited from $150 million of investment to its Main Street corridor with another quarter billion dollars dedicated to the rest of the town.
Blasdel said having Penske as one of the community’s leading corporate citizens will boost Speedway’s efforts to court developers.
“It does certainly attach a new name in another way to the town of Speedway and, like any community, we want to utilize the benefits and advantages we have, and I would even venture to say that Roger will be a part of helping us in that way,” said Blasdel. “I think you’re going to see some more development around the track. I think that when we talk about an entertainment capitol that’s more than racing that you’re going to see some more events and activity, but I still think we’re going to be the tight-knit, small community that we’ve always been.”
Speedway may hope to retain that small town feel, but a former IndyCar marketing executive said its anticipated that the racing series should expect to be vaulted back up to its former competitive status with NASCAR and Formula 1 racing.
“The water rises for everybody,” said David Moroknek, President & CEO of Maingate, a sports marking firm. “We’ve just raised the level by bringing the Penske name into this realm. Yes, he’s been a car owner and he’s been very influential, but the amount of eyes that are now on this sport, the amount of corporations who are looking at it saying, ‘Boy, there’s something going on there. Roger’s involved. I need to take a second look at this,’ bringing more manufacturers into the sport itself because Roger’s involved, there’s so many things that this is going to do to raise the level of everything, businesswise, competition-wise, manufacturing-wise, that has never happened before because anytime you get a sale like this and bring in somebody like Roger, I’m telling you, everybody understands what he means to business.
“The name Roger Penske is synonymous with some of the greatest business leaders in our country, the Iacoccas of the world.”
Penske Entertainment Corporation will purchase the track, the NTT IndyCar Series and IMS Productions.
The sale does not include race artifacts, cars, artwork and the museum owned by the not-for-profit IMS Foundation.
Penske Corporation and Hulman & Company are privately held entities and not required to disclose the price of the transaction which is expected to close in early 2020.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued this statement:
“The biggest single day sporting event on planet earth is about to get even bigger and better. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with ‘The Captain’ Roger Penske at the helm.
“Mr. Penske’s vision, team and high expectations will ensure Indiana’s most iconic asset continues to grow. Along with IndyCar, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway forms the core of an entire racing industry that employs thousands of people and pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy.
“As a racing fan, my excitement is only equaled by my appreciation for the longtime Hulman George commitment to the past and future of the sport of racing and to our great state.”
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett issued this statement:
“Today marks the start of a new chapter for the city of Indianapolis, as the torch is passed from the Hulman George family to another leader who shares a passion for the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the legacy of IndyCar.
"For decades Hulman & Company has overseen one of Indianapolis’ greatest assets, acting as community partners and stewards of our state’s most prized tradition. Residents across the city and around the globe, all have stories of the wonder of IMS, thanks to the dedication of the Hulman George family.
"I know Roger Penske and the Penske Corporation will continue this legacy, acting as ambassadors for Indianapolis and presiding over another century of progress, innovation, and sporting excellence at the world’s greatest racetrack.”