Roger Penske was good
enough to win in sports
cars at the highest level,
yet smart enough to
know his ultimate
strength lay in running
cars, not racing them. A
multiple SCCA national
champion who’s perhaps
best known for his Zerex
Special exploits, Penske
also raced in two GPs.
ragmatism, and making the right call
at exactly the right time. Two traits
that have served Roger Penske well both
in his business life and his racing life.
In the spring of 1965, Penske had a
decision to make: Carry on with a racing
career that had earned him accolades
such as Sports Illustrated’s SCCA Driver of
the Year in 1961, or devote himself to his
Chevrolet dealership in Philadelphia, Pa.
Clint Brawner had offered him an Indy car
test and the Indy 500 beckoned. It was a
race he’d dreamed about competing in
since going there for the first time with his
father in 1951...but the dealership won.
A smart – as in, very smart – choice as
it turned out. But Penske wasn’t done with
racing, and a move into team ownership
would now be a focus for his competitive
nature. Combine a sixth sense for finding
people who shared his ambitions and will to
When Penske Racing entered the scene in 1966, it drew a blueprint for excellence that continues today.
win, his savvy in knowing that quality race
teams came from quality equipment and
budgets, plus his serious eye for detail, and
Penske Racing was a player from the outset.
The team’s debut came in the 1966
Daytona 24 Hours, where its immaculate
Corvette took the GT class win with Dick
(MAIN) Driving Penske Racing’s Lola T70,
Mark Donohue wins in Can-Am at Mosport,
Ontario, in 1966. (BELOW LEFT) Donohue
and Chuck Parsons celebrate a surprise
victory in the 1969 Daytona 24 Hours.
1960s A WINNING START
Guldstrand, Ben Moore and George
Wintersteen sharing the driving. Following
that up with a 12 Hours of Sebring GT
class win, Penske Racing was on the map.
The momentum cranked up another
notch with the addition of Mark Donohue, a
quiet, focused and brilliant driver/engineer,
as Roger’s not-so-secret weapon. Donohue
earned Penske Racing’s first major outright
win in Kent Pacific Raceway’s ’ 66 USRRC
round, then took the same Lola T70 to a
victory at Mosport’s Can-Am counter.
The 1967 USRRC title, plus Trans-Am
championships in 1968-’ 69, showcased
the team’s potency, as well as its flexibility.
But it was an outright win in the ’ 69
Daytona 24 Hours for Donohue and Chuck
Parsons, outracing and outlasting a fleet
of Porsche 908s and a pair of Ford GT40s
in their T70 Mk. IIIB, that confirmed
Penske Racing’s place among the elite.