If you thought Roger Penske would take a wait and see attitude with respect to changes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, think again. Penske Entertainment Corp. closed on the sale of IMS, the NTT IndyCar Series and IMS Productions Monday.
Tuesday evening, at an event welcoming Penske to Indy, he said fans can expect visible changes for this year’s Indianapolis 500. Penske says “several million dollars” will be invested in advance of this year’s race, focused on the “guest experience.” Penske says details on the investment and projects will be announced 100 days out from the race.
About 200 business, political and community leaders attended a reception hosted by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse late Tuesday afternoon.
In remarks to the group, Penske spoke with emotion about his purchase of IMS, where his 18 Indy 500 wins make him the most successful car owner in IndyCar history. He fondly recalled attending his first race in 1951, at the age of 14, with his father.
“The first thing I see is an iconic event, the largest sporting event in the world, and our commitment to the folks here, the fans and everyone else is we’ve got to maintain that and make it better,” said Penske, who added a priority will be building the economic impact of IMS in the town of Speedway, the Indianapolis region and state.
New racing events could be part of that enhanced economic impact. “Potential other events, we’ve talked about Formula One, who’s been here, we’ve talked about long distance racing, now that won’t happen overnight, I don’t want anybody to think it’s on the schedule next week, but we need to be sure the events we have do two things: they provide better racing, but also, what can we do with this group here to give back to this community.”
*EDITOR’S NOTE: I sit down with Roger Penske for an extended interview on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, where he talks about how the deal came together and his vision for growing IMS, its economic impact and plans for the NTT IndyCar series.