If he’s not “the most interesting man in the
world,” as that beer ad suggests, then he’s
at least in the top 10. He does business in
Italy, Spain, Germany, the UK, Australia,
New Zealand, Indonesia and, of course, the
United States. He employs 53,000 people
and conducts a lot of his deals in person,
thanks to his fleet of corporate jets.
But, at some point in roughly 40 of the
52 weeks in a year, Roger Penske is in his
element and his favorite place – at a race
track – either going over strategy, meeting
sponsors or spotting for one of his drivers.
And The Captain has parlayed his
motorsports success of 16 Indianapolis 500
victories and more than 400 race wins into
presence in boardrooms across the globe,
molding the Penske Corporation into a
major player in the automotive industry.
“I think I run my racing team just like
any of my other businesses,” says the
Shaker Heights, Ohio, native who annually
“A BUDGET, AN INCOME AND HIGH EXPECTATIONS”
It’s difficult to pinpoint what makes Penske
tick, other than the obvious pursuit of money
and success, but he’s a dynamo who seems
as determined and focused as he was 50
years ago when he started Penske Racing.
“It starts with the culture and it starts
with Roger, an amazing leader,” says 2003
Indy 500 winner, Gil de Ferran. “He sets the
tone, not by what he says, but what he does.
He’s here for one reason: to succeed. I’ve
never seen anyone with that kind of energy
and enthusiasm. He’s P1 on both fronts.”
Asked to reveal his strengths, Penske
responds: “I’m a detail-oriented person
who checks everything right down to a
little decal on a racecar. I think I know when
to talk and when to listen, and I think I treat
people fairly. And I think I’m pretty loyal.”
He’s got a polished presence that allows
him to walk into almost any boardroom and
drive the discussion. He’s intelligent and
also street smart, with savvy for making
the right deal, buying at the perfect time,
or hiring the next big thing on four wheels.
Team Penske and the Penske Corp. are
almost interchangeable, because the man
at the top truly runs the show.
“The DNA of this team is that I’m pretty
committed,” he declares. “As time went on,
the integrity and brand building out of the
race team gave me an edge in business and
a bigger stage for access I didn’t have. And
it’s all related to performance.”
Team boss and founder Roger Penske runs his race programs the same way as his other businesses – highly effectively...
leases over 250,000 trucks and sells
more than 400,000 cars. “We’ve got a
budget, an income and high expectations.
And I try to get the best people possible
in both arenas.”
Roger Penske doesn’t turn up to a
track just to watch. A half-century
after forming his team, he still
plays a key role, whether it’s in the
IndyCar Series (MAIN) or NASCAR.
Roger Penske never took the opportunity to race
in the Indy 500, but he will drive the Chevrolet
Camaro SS pace car for the 100th running, May 29.
PACING THE FIELD