Yesterday, news broke that Hulman and Company, which owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series and IMS Productions, sold their assets to Roger Penske’s newly-formed Penske Entertainment Group.
The announcement, which came in a press release in the morning followed by a press conference a few hours later, was a stunning move by the Hulman George family, which had owned the speedway since 1945.
In this episode of New Track Record Podcast, we recap the announcement and explore what Penkse’s purchase means for the future of the track, the IndyCar Series and the possibilities of future events. This includes an increased purse for the Indianapolis 500, higher payouts to full-time teams in the IndyCar Series, a much higher likelihood of the series attracting a third engine manufacturer and upping the odds for a NASCAR/IndyCar doubleheader. Penske also mentioned that he wanted to make the speedway an entertainment destination, and not just in terms of racing on the track. IMS has dabbled in non-racing events a few times, with the headliner being a Rolling Stones concert on July 4, 2015. Could this mean more concerts, a music festival or even a football game at the facility? Time will tell.
One thing is clear: we both agree that Penske gaining control of the track is a best-case scenario for IndyCar as a whole. Penske’s passion, resources and connections can only provide more opportunity to the sport that is finally gaining traction in recent years after slogging along for about 20 years since the Split in the mid 1990s between IMS and CART.
Yesterday’s announcement was one of, if not the biggest story in IndyCar history. And Penske’s investment of capital will provide IndyCar with its biggest opportunity for success since the sport’s heyday in the 1980s and 90s.