By: Tanner Watkins
November 4, 2019 | 11:00 AM
This morning, a trio of open-wheel racing’s most recognizable figures gathered at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to usher in the new ownership of Hulman & Company’s key assets. Roger Penske’s Penske Corporation will soon become the new owners of the Speedway, the IndyCar Series, and IMS Productions.
Penske, plus Hulman & Company chairman Tony George as well as Hulman & Company president Mark Miles, was in attendance for the formal announcement – which had been kept remarkably quiet before Monday morning’s press release.
Opening the press conference was George, who was visibly emotional thinking back to his years growing up in the town of Speedway and, of course, as a part of the Hulman-George family who has owned IMS for 74 years.
“It was an important decision for our family, at this time… we have always looked for strategic opportunities to grow,” says George. “We are very proud to have come together in the last several months to make some important decisions.”
George continued by stating that the moment was bittersweet, but that the Hulman-George family had taken the Speedway and IndyCar as far as it could – and now it was time to hand the baton off to Penske and his empire.
Miles was next in line to speak, and he stated that there is interest to keep George (and other members of the Hulman-George family) in the loop with IMS and IndyCar’s future direction.
Then finally, Penske took to the microphone. “I have to wind back to 1951 when my dad brought me here – I was 14 years old,” said Penske. “The bug of auto racing got into my blood, so to say.
“Today, I hope my dad is looking down at me and looking at this group and saying, ‘Son, you did a good job.'” It was clearly a proud moment in what is already a hall-of-fame life for the recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.
Penske touched on a slew of topics during the nearly hour-long conference, including his interest in bringing both a 24-hour race and/or Formula One to the Speedway in the future. The 18-time Indianapolis 500-winning car owner also noted that he is keen on keeping NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 on the stock car schedule, and will strongly support it.
Some other notable talking points to come out of today’s press conference:
- Roger Penske will step down from his duties as a race strategist for Team Penske’s IndyCar operations.
- Tony George approached Penske at the IndyCar season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to schedule the first meeting in regards to IMS/IndyCar ownership. A few e-mails and a couple of meetings later, we arrive at today’s announcement.
- Penske expects the deal to be officially completed in January. He did not disclose the figures of the sale since both Penske Corporation and Hulman & Company are private companies.
- Penske plans to walk the grounds at IMS tomorrow to learn more about pressing issues at the Speedway, later meeting with top staff to get their own opinions.
- Penske noted that there will be discussions about guaranteed entries at the Indianapolis 500, a hot-button topic he was in support of this past May.
- The notion of a doubleheader between NASCAR and IndyCar was not ruled out. Penske: “We have to break some glass on some of these things… If there is no risk, there is no reward.”
We will continue to cover today’s massive announcement of Penske Corporation purchasing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IndyCar Series, and IMS Productions as the afternoon progresses. Stay tuned for more!
Header image by Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR Media.