PFANNER: Seven weeks that modified racing
One can not underestimate the profound affect of Monday’s blockbuster announcement of Penske Leisure buying the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Sequence and IMS Productions from the Hulman George household. This seismic occasion has been totally lined by our RACER.com workforce of Mark Glendenning, Robin Miller and Marshall Pruett however I’m nonetheless unpacking and processing what occurred this week inside these hallowed 4 corners which have outlined American racing to the world because the daybreak of the age of pace. A decade from now we might look again on the previous seven weeks as the start of the pivotal interval that reshaped auto racing and created new hope for the way forward for our sport.
This unprecedented sea change within the panorama of motorsports started with the September 19 announcement of IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton stepping down after a protracted and profitable profession that noticed him first work with Don Panoz after which Jim France to revive North American sports activities automobile racing whereas overseeing among the most iconic highway racing racetracks within the nation. His lengthy and deeply impactful profession additionally noticed Atherton function central participant within the publicly-run firm racetrack growth within the 1990s with stints at Penske Motorsports and Worldwide Speedway Company earlier than his game-changing management of IMSA by way of an period of unprecedented turbulence and challenges.
Penske deal may strengthen IndyCar, IMSA ties
PRUETT: The right purchaser on the good time
MILLER: Generally you break the story. Generally the story breaks you
On Sunday, September 22 we couldn’t have identified that a couple of well-chosen phrases spoken by Tony George to Roger Penske would quickly change the game without end. This got here on the identical day The Captain celebrated Josef Newgarden’s second NTT IndyCar Sequence title and Crew Penske’s document 16th championship within the collection.
October 15 dawned with the information that Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan had been named because the worthy successor to Scott Atherton as IMSA President and COO. Doonan shares Atherton’s deserved repute for bettering the game as complete not simply what was beneath his direct management. From IMSA to IndyCar to SCCA and NASA, Mazda Motorsport has been the engine of alternative and achievement of the desires of so many younger racers who’ve modified the face of American racing.
The worldwide racing panorama shifted once more on October 18 when the long-anticipated merger of NASCAR and the Worldwide Speedway Company was accomplished and introduced. This alone could be thought-about a defining second for American racing as Jim and Lesa France started a serious pivot for his or her category-leading enterprise holdings. This long-overdue privatization permits for much-needed consolidation, repositioning and refocusing of their enterprise. We’ll little question see the 71-year-old firm transfer rapidly to handle shortcomings which were laid naked throughout the previous decade of decline and a cultural shift away from its unique badass outlaw racer mindset. This additionally frees the brand new mixed entity from a quarter-to-quarter administration mentality to focus ahead to a long-term strategic imaginative and prescient that may embrace the emergence of legalized sports activities betting and the looming shift of direct paid distribution of stay racing occasions together with a diversification of leisure choices at their stadiums and worldwide enlargement into profitable new markets.
When this nation’s biggest racing workforce proprietor and esteemed enterprise chief was deservedly awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Trump on October 24, little may we now have all identified what would come subsequent for the person who has come to signify American excellence to the world. On Monday November 4, Roger S. Penske fulfilled his future by buying the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Sequence and IMS Productions.
Many will view this momentous Monday because the turning level when racing’s future was assured. I’m amongst these and I’m grateful to Roger and his household alongside along with his nice workforce of individuals at Penske Company for all they’ve performed for racing throughout my 46 years of working professionally within the sport. One of many highlights of my profession was the interval when Pfanner Communications served because the company of document for Penske Motorsports throughout the late 1990s. I noticed firsthand how Roger and his son Greg labored with their workforce of remarkable folks to create aggressive magic whereas additionally relentlessly specializing in prospects’ and stakeholders’ wants.
Throughout this time I got here to understand how a lot Roger loves our sport and the way a lot he respects the great folks whom have devoted their lives to nurturing and preserving racing. I noticed this similar ardour, compassion and a focus to racing’s followers and stakeholders from Roger’s son Greg Penske, with whom we additionally labored carefully throughout this era. It’s understatement to say that I grew as individual and as a businessman throughout this time. The lasting lesson was that high quality attracts alternative and that outcomes are the true measure of dedication. On this gentle, it’s telling that the good workforce at Hulman Motorsports that has been ably led by Mark Miles, Jay Frye and Doug Boles can be going ahead with Penske Leisure and that the Hulman George household has been supplied the chance to turn into shareholders of the brand new firm.
With these profound modifications in our sport throughout these previous seven weeks, we now have a brand new starting and recent optimism as we put together to enter a decade that can see huge disruptions within the mobility and media sectors in addition to the enterprise fashions which have pushed and formed our sport. Many who work in motorsports have apprehensive about how auto racing will stay related, vibrant and viable within the face of such sweeping modifications to society throughout the decade forward. However I take coronary heart in the truth that racing is about studying and evolving sooner than the competitors. Nobody does this higher than Roger S. Penske and few have such an entire grasp of the whole ecosystem surrounding the game.
With a lot change in racing’s panorama, something is now doable. By no means earlier than has the racing neighborhood had such a golden alternative to align methods and assets for the frequent good. Roger Penske has the character, relationship expertise and dedication to make this doable and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway can proceed to outline racing for generations to come back. From my private expertise, I do know that Roger Penske lives his life figuring out that the longer term is now. Will probably be fascinating and thrilling to see if the remainder of us can keep on the lead lap within the race to a greater tomorrow for our sport.