One of Dan Gurney's favorite phrases when discussing the current or future richness of his favorite IndyCar race was: "No one will make any change unless there is some skin in the game." The great eagle knew where he was talking, because it was his a famous White Paper was the impetus for CART to take over from USAC in the late 1970s for the introduction of American open-wheel racing in the 20th century.
And Roger Penske, with financial support from Pat Patrick, who took the lead and provided a CART television contract, staff and plan are tracked and collected. Like Gurney, he knew IndyCar racing was off the Indianapolis 500, so he dropped his money where his mouth was and where his passion always flowed.
Something like right now.
The fact that Penske bought IMS and IndyCar is not only the biggest news of the 50s I've covered this sport, but it's also the best news. Because if one can make IndyCar more appropriate 1
Not sold on NASCAR, ISC, Disney or Comcast – someone who has no connection to the blood, sweat and tears of 16 and and Georgetown. He was sold to a billionaire, who is a titan of the business who stores his Indy 500 Oldtimer hat just as much as one of his private jets.
"I joke all day because this is such great news," said Mario Andretti. "Many of us have known that Speedway has been on sale for more than a year and can you imagine that this is in the wrong hands? Some rich man who has no ties to racing, buys it and reinvents the wheel? I always look at the big picture and the weather is as good as it could be.
“I don't know anyone who loves speedway or sports more than Roger, and no one has more skin to play. He knows the big picture, he has the respect of all other competitors, and it will be the jewel of his achievements. It is the oldest series of the highest levels on the planet and now it is at the top. He has control and this time he will have a vision – not just a word. ”
Without going over the last 25 years, the Hillman / George family has taken Indy and IndyCar as far as possible. After Tony George united Champ Car with his Indy Racing League in 2008, he was removed from power by his family and the free flow of money to teams, tracks, drivers and purses was torn off. They didn't invest any more money and the Circle of Leaders usurped all the money in the purse, so today wins everywhere, but Indianapolis nearly pays the tire bill over the weekend, and paying off the Indy 500 has been stagnant and unpleasant for a decade.
Mark Miles and Jay Fry understand that the economy is not where they need to be, but they can't write a check and make things better. And however positive things may be in managing them, they cannot enter the boardroom of a large corporation and dazzle shareholders or CEOs like the master. His fingers go deep into American and international business, and you can bet he'll find a marketing magician who can give the iconic race a sponsor for a big title or find a way to give the series an infusion of money to help car owners, And help Frye find this third-party engine manufacturer.
"I rather see Roger buy it from everyone else because he is interested and knows everything about our business," said Indy icon A.J. Foyt.
And it is not that Tony and his sisters were not interested or passionate. They just didn't have the experience to grow it. But that was all, but not a hostile takeover.
"I talked to Tony and Nancy (George) and they are quite emotional, but they feel very at peace that this has gone in the right direction," continued Andretti. "They know RP will respect the legacy of the piece and you need to have a strong streak to take advantage of Indy, and I think this is the best news we could ever have on that."  Miles added: "It was a unanimous vote on the board. "
Of course, I always said that if RP followed Bernie Ecclestone's path, he would sell his racing teams and just run IndyCar. The bigger CART got in the 90's, it would have dusted NASCAR and Split may never have happened. But he was a competitor and had no desire to just be a boss. But when he owned Michigan, Nazareth and Fontana, there was always the rumor that he would buy IMS.
"No. That's not true, ”Penske replied late Monday. "I was too much on my plate and couldn't afford it. This came to light and we were done in six weeks. It was the fastest time and this great day in my life. "
Everyone is guessing about the price ($ 2 billion is the popular number on Monday), but no one has any idea except Penske, Miles, Mitch Daniels and the board of directors, and they don't speak. But like his impressive transformations at Detroit Diesel and Hertz Truck Leasing, you can count on the captain to modernize the facility, fan experience and hopefully the bottom line.
"In the big picture Indy and IndyCar are going to take advantage of this and the ownership of the team could also be taken advantage of and the wealth totally lost by Split could be recovered," Andretti said. "He needs success, because that's all."
Then the winner at Indy 1969 then set the framework for the past with the future.
"When the dying USAC was dying on the vine, Roger created a CART with a vision. Bring IndyCar to the glory days until it broke. He has a beautiful success story. And that's why I'm so joking about today's news. "