Archive for April 7, 2016

Penske Cars

By: Staff at Team Penske

One of the most-unique aspects of the 50 years of Team Penske is the history of Penske Cars, which was a division of Penske Racing from 1974-2006. In those 30-plus years, the factory in Poole, Dorset, England produced numerous INDYCAR winners and even a Formula 1 (F1) victor. 

Roger Penske purchased the car-building shop from Graham McRae in 1973 and placed Heinz Hofer in charge of producing the first F1 chassis. Geoff Ferris was hired as engineer and designer of the new PC1 (Penske Cars, first iteration) chassis that would debut at the 1974 Canadian Grand Prix with driver, Mark Donohue

Long-time Team Penske employee Karl Kainhofer arrived in the summer of 1974. Kainhofer was the chief mechanic on Roger Penske’s racecars in the 1950s and 60s, and would hold the same position for all of Donohue’s Can-Am and INDYCAR entries from 1966-1973. Kainhofer was tasked with assembling the car for the first race in Canada, one in which Donohue finished 12th. The team entered one more F1 race that season at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, but Donohue had to retire when his rear suspension broke. 

For the next two years the Penske Cars chassis continued to compete in the F1 world. Irishman driver John Watson broke through for the team with a win in the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix just one year removed from the tragic accident that claimed the life of Donohue at the same venue. 

Team Penske remains the last American team to win an F1 race. 

Team Penske ceased to compete in F1 following the 1976 season and Penske Cars turned its focus to building a long line of ultra-successful INDYCAR chassis. Even though the INDYCAR operation was based in Reading, Pa., keeping the building of the chassis in England kept it closer to the shop than the California suppliers used by other organizations. The first INDYCAR was the PC-5, which appeared in the summer of 1977 with driver Tom Sneva. In the first race with the Penske-built machine, powered by a Cosworth engine, Sneva qualified on the pole at Michigan International Speedway before finishing in the fourth position. 

In 1979, Rick Mears scored his the first of his record-tying four Indianapolis 500 wins in the PC-7. In total, Penske Cars chassis have won 82 INDYCAR races and seven Indianapolis 500 titles making it one of the most-successful chassis of the USAC-sanctioned era (1956-1995) of INDYCAR racing.  

The most-dominant chassis in Penske Cars history was the PC-23 that Al Unser Jr, Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy used to dominate the 1994 INDYCAR season. That year the team won 12 of 16 races – including a historic performance at the Indianapolis 500 with the Mercedes-Benz engine – en route to a 1-2-3 finish in the series standings with Unser taking the crown. 


The PC-29 chassis was the last to roll off the assembly line in Poole in 1999, marking an end to one of the greatest eras in INDYCAR racing as many of the teams – Team Penske included – moved from building their own chassis to the “spec” models we see today. The factory closed its doors in 2006.

While it no longer exists, the Penske Cars facility remains one of the proudest chapters of the Team Penske history book. Winning any major race is quite an accomplishment, but doing it with equipment that you build yourself makes it even sweeter. 

— Josh Kaufman to perform ‘(Back Home Again In) Indiana’ —
 –IMS Museum unveils new name and brand —
— Penske to be honored by IMRRC for contributions to racing —
— Of note —

Josh Kaufman to perform ‘(Back Home Again In) Indiana‘ …

When the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil welcomes race fans with the traditional singing of “(Back Home Again in) Indiana,” a distinct Indianapolis flavor will mark the occasion.

Josh Kaufman, Indianapolis native and winner of the sixth season of television’s “The Voice,” will perform the beloved song at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during pre-race ceremonies May 29, with accompaniment by the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, a fixture of the Central Indiana community for 30 years.

Josh“The singing of ‘(Back Home Again in) Indiana’ is a signature of the Indianapolis 500 and one that our fans cherish as a distinctly ‘Hoosier’ moment,” said J. Douglas Boles, IMS president. “Since Jim Nabors’ final performance in 2014, our goal is to select performers who have an understanding of the song’s meaning and significant importance to the Indianapolis 500 experience and the race’s fans. Josh Kaufman’s impressive voice and local ties, along with support from the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, will deliver just that.”

“(Back Home Again in) Indiana” – the song originally was just called “Indiana” – was written in 1917 by lyricist Ballard MacDonald and composer James Hanley, incorporating many lyrics and musical themes from the 1897-written “On the Banks of the Wabash,” the state’s official song.

According to IMS historian Donald Davidson, the song may have been heard at the race as early as 1919 (played by a trackside brass band) and was first sung in 1946, about an hour before the green flag by New York Metropolitan Opera performer James Melton. Around 1949 it was moved to closer to the start of the race, where it remains today.

Fan favorite Jim Nabors retired after the 2014 race, having performed the song live 35 times starting in 1972. The group Straight No Chaser performed the song prior to the 2015 Indianapolis 500.

Tickets are now on sale for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course on May 14 and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 at, by phone at (800) 822-INDY or at the IMS ticket office, 4790 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, Ind., weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET.

IMS Museum unveils new name and brand

IMSMuseum3CThe museum on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds will now be known as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum aligning its name with an unrivaled collection of automobiles and racing artifacts that follow the history of motor racing, Indy car racers and the story of the extraordinary people who helped create the American automotive industry.

Adding the image of the top of the Borg-Warner Trophy – the iconic prize featuring the likenesses of every Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner – and bold letters and colors to the museum’s new logo represents a first step at enriching the visitor experience to the world-renowned museum.

“With 100 years of running and 60 years of collecting the world’s greatest treasures of motor sport racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is the true gateway to the ‘Racing Capital of the World,'” said Anton H. “Tony” George, president of the museum’s board of directors.

Following a master planning initiative by Indianapolis architects Schmidt Associates, a plan is in place to update and redesign the museum and exhibit its large array of valuable artifacts and racing memorabilia.

Penske to be honored by IMRRC for contributions to Racing


Roger Penske, whose career as an Indy car team owner has garnered more race wins and Indianapolis 500 championships than anyone in the sport’s history, will be honored in June by the International Motor Racing Research Center with the 2016 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports.

As Team Penske celebrates its 50th anniversary in motorsports, Penske will receive the award at a gala dinner June 30 at the internationally renowned Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., during the IMSA sports car weekend at nearby Watkins Glen International. Previous recipients of the award have been NASCAR great Richard Petty and fellow Indy car team owner Chip Ganassi.

“I am honored to be selected this year to receive the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award from the International Motor Racing Research Center,” Penske said. “The IMRRC does a terrific job of maintaining and documenting the heritage of motorsports, and we appreciate all they do to chronicle and preserve racing history.”

Of Note

Douglas Zink

Douglas “Doug” Zink, a member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network from 1966-1985, died April 5 at the age of 78. Zink called Indianapolis 500 action from the backstretch and Turn 3. He spent his career in broadcasting working for WIRE Radio from 1959 to 1986. He was a member of the Broadcast Pioneers.


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