Bloomfield Township businessman and auto racing legend Roger Penske has acquired the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series, IMS Productions, and the Indianapolis 500, often referred to as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Terms were not disclosed.
Hulman & Co. and the Hulman family, which has owned the historic track for 74 years, announced the sale during a press conference today at the speedway.
“We recently approached Roger Penske and Penske Corporation about this opportunity and began working to put an agreement in place,” says an emotional Tony George, chairman of Hulman & Co. “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the centerpiece and the cathedral of motorsports since 1909 and the Hulman-George family has proudly served as the steward of this great institution for more than 70 years. Now, we are honored to pass the torch to Roger Penske and Penske Corporation, as they become just the fourth owner of the iconic speedway. There is no one more capable and qualified than Roger and his organization to lead the sport of IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway into the future.”
Ownership of The Brickyard and the other entities will go to Penske Entertainment Corp., a new subsidiary of Penske Corp., a $32 billion operation with 3,660 locations and 64,000 employees worldwide. Penske Corp. includes the Penske Automotive Group of automobile dealers, Penske Truck Rental, Penske Truck Group, Penske Truck Leasing, and others.
“My passion for racing began at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1951 when I attended the Indianapolis 500 with my father,” says Penske, whose race team celebrated its 50th anniversary of first competing at IMS this year. “We have so much respect and appreciation for the history and tradition of the Speedway and the sport of IndyCar racing. I want to thank Hulman & Company for the opportunity to build on this legacy and it will be an honor for Penske Corporation to help lead these great institutions forward into a new era.”
Penske, a former race driver who gave up the wheel in favor of team ownership and the business world, is the winningest team owner in Indianapolis 500 history with 18 victories. He also has a Brickyard 500 NASCAR win on his ownership resume. He says he plans to keep the speedway and race series management intact, and expects to make significant capital investment in the facility.
An ambassador for Michigan and the Detroit area, Penske was instrumental in bringing the 2006 Super Bowl to Ford Field and championed returning IndyCar to Belle Isle. News of the Indianapolis deal comes 12 days after Penske received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.
This isn’t Penske’s first foray into racetrack ownership. He has owned Michigan International Speedway, Nazareth (Pennsylvania) Speedway, North Carolina (Rockingham) Speedway and built California Speedway, now Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. He sold his interest in those facilities in 2007.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway originally was designed as an automotive proving ground. The first race was run at the track in 1911. It sat dormant during World War II and was in need of repair when Tony Hulman bought the speedway from World War I aviation hero Eddie Rickenbacker in 1945 for $750,000 and brought racing back to 16th Street and Georgetown Avenue in 1946. The Hulman family has owned the facility ever since, continually upgrading the facility, and bringing other racing series to the track.
Written by Tim Keenan for dBusiness magazine.