Roger Penske, the new owner of IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, says he wants to evaluate the capability of returning F1 to the Brickyard.
Speaking at a press conference in the wake of the announcement that his corporation had bought the Hulman & Company enterprise that owns the IndyCar series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Roger Penske said he’d like to evaluate the potential of bringing different racing series to the Brickyard.
Asked about what his short term plans are with his new assets, Penske said he intends to come up with plans for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to expand its racing operations: “I think we look at the speedway itself, the investment with the 100 million dollars that was put in a few years ago before the hundredth [Indy 500], I think you’ve seen a tremendous change, and we want to add capability as there are more fan zones, what can we use this for, can we run a 24-hour race here, can we run a Formula 1 race here? What are the things we can do?”
“This is a great asset. Once the tradition had been broken in adding the NASCAR race, which obviously we’re going to get behind that in a big way because for 27 years they’ve run here. So I look at all of these across the board to see what can we do.”
Formula 1 has raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the past. Aside from the days when the Indy 500 was actually a round of the Formula 1 World Championship (and often ignored by full-time participants in the rest of the Championship), Formula 1 returned to race at the Brickyard on a road course between 2000 and 2007, including hosting the infamous 2005 race where only six cars took part – this was due to the Michelin tyres failing on the small part of the banking used as part of the final sector. Only the Bridgestone-shod cars took part in the race.
Penske said he plans on reducing his team ownership duties in order to concentrate on running the IndyCar series, and says he’d like to get an additional manufacturer on board: “Well, I think what I plan to do tomorrow, ironically, is to walk the entire facility [at Indianapolis] and strategically sit down with the existing team and get their top 10. I always like to work from a top 10 and see the things that we can do to make it fan-friendly, certainly from a competitive perspective, I’m planning to really step down from being a strategist on the pit box. You won’t see me there on race day. I think I’ve got a bigger job to do now, is to try to see how we can build the series to the next level. It will be nice to bring another car manufacturer in. I know Jay Frye is working on that; can we have someone else come in to join the series?”
Penske are no strangers to owning and promoting a race, currently also promoting and running the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle, as well as previously operating the Grand Prix of Cleveland, Nazareth Speedway and California Speedway. As a result, Penske says he’s looking forward to getting stuck in and is aiming to grow IndyCar and the Speedway to ever greater heights: “We bought Michigan Speedway in 1973; it was bankrupt. We built California. We help with the promotion of the Grand Prix in Detroit. This is in our DNA, and I think with input from the media, certainly input from our sponsor partners and all the teams — I had a chance to talk to most of the teams today, the principals, and we’re looking forward to getting together with the car owners and seeing what we can do to make IndyCar even stronger, and I think that’s something that would be a priority for me.”