Team Penske kicks off 50th anniversary celebration in 2016

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It seems like just yesterday that Roger Penske began building what would become one of the greatest racing empires ever.

Now, 50 years later and following an evolution that began as Roger Penske Racing, transitioned to Penske Racing and eventually to simply Team Penske, the IndyCar and NASCAR legend is throwing a year-long celebration of his organization’s 50-year history.

“We are very proud of all Team Penske has accomplished over the last 50 years,” team owner Roger Penske said in a team media release. “The celebration of our 50th Anniversary is truly a credit to the hard work, preparation and execution of our teams over the years.

“The 2016 season will be a special one in our history as we have the opportunity to reflect back on our heritage while continuing to produce and win at a high level each week on the race track.”

Originally formed in 1966 to compete in sports car and endurance events – it won the 24 Hours of Daytona in its first career start – the organization quickly added IndyCar competition and eventually NASCAR racing.

Along the way over those five decades, Team Penske has amassed a combined 424 wins (including 16 Indianapolis 500 wins and two Daytona 500 victories), 487 poles and 28 national championships. It also has had more than 80 different drivers behind the wheel of a Penske race vehicle.

And something for Gene Haas to shoot for as he debuts his Formula One team in 2016: Team Penske was also the last American team to win a Formula One race (1976, with driver John Watson).

The Penske legacy will be celebrated in several ways, most notably at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

First, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will debut a new display – “Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Team Penske” – starting on Jan. 20, during the annual NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The special exhibit will not only focus on Team Penske’s successful NASCAR program, but will showcase cars spanning multiple racing disciplines from 1966 to the present and will include never before seen artifacts and trophies from the Team Penske archives,” according to a Team Penske media release.

Then in February, another display will debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. It will open 100 days before the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.

The display will be more open-wheel centric, including cars that will reflect each Team Penske driver’s first win at IMS, along with other vehicles, artifacts and trophies from Penske’s 50 years of racing.

Other highlights of the year-long celebration include:

* Formation and inaugural introductions into the Team Penske Hall of Fame, which will honor current and former drivers and employees who have made significant contributions to the team and its history.

* The Jan. 18 issue of Sports Business Journal will have a special pullout section celebrating Team Penske. In addition, team patriarch Roger Penske will be featured as one of the magazine’s six annual Sports Business Champions.

* There will be a number of media placements featuring historic races, drivers, team members and key moments in Team Penske history. Those placements will include more than 70 interviews with former drivers, employees, sponsors and other influential individuals in the organization’s history to be used in print, online and broadcast media.

* Social media will play a key role in spreading the 50th anniversary message, keying on the hashtag #Penske50. As the year goes by, the team will post a variety of things such as driver biographies, photos, videos and key moments in the organization’s history.

* An extensive line of merchandise commemorating the organization’s 50th anniversary will debut in the next few months and will feature Puma apparel, collectables, novelties and diecasts.

For more information visit www.teampenske.com.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.