Penske Purchase of INDYCAR/IMS should be complete on Jan. 6

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INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles has confirmed to NBC Sports.com that Roger Penske’s purchase of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500, INDYCAR and IMS Productions should be completed on Jan. 6, 2020.

Penske, though, already is having a major impact on the speedway since the announcement of the impending sale last month.

Penske has spent a great deal of the past several weeks in Indianapolis reviewing the acquisition and taking a full inventory and survey of the property. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is already a beautiful “Cathedral of Speed,” but Penske plans to make it shine like a diamond.

“People call it ‘Penske Perfect,’” Miles said. “This is a massive place, and it’s a venerable place. It’s hard to keep it up to that standard, and we haven’t. But it’s also habits. The way you look at your desk or a storage room or a closet.

“The day of the announcement, Roger walked around and looked in great detail at everything. I began to see the place differently within an hour. I saw it through Roger’s eyes.

“In a way, it was embarrassing. Under the excuse of budgets and tight money, we had not really been as attentive as we should be taking pride in the place.”

After Penske’s first visit, Miles assigned a “block captain” to each department and spoke to employees saying, “Tomorrow, the Dumpsters are arriving.”

Large dumpsters began to arrive at IMS, and the cleanup began.

“If we are going to clean it up, we have to clean it out,” Miles said. “At a place like this, nobody ever threw anything out. Under the new leadership, we said, ‘If in doubt; throw it out.’ We have made some room to clean up the place and that is just good housekeeping.”

Penske and his regime are looking to see what impact can be done by next May so fans can see the additional care and visible improvement to the facility, from cleaning the place to a fresh coat of paint on much of the facility.

Expanding the speedway’s business

Bigger projects likely will start after the July 4 NASCAR weekend, according to Miles.

From the INDYCAR side, Miles believes the series is doing pretty well. He wants to improve its footprint in eSports and in gaming now that gambling is legal in Indiana and many other states.

“If we can figure out how to do more to help our promoters be more successful and put more people in the seats at the races throughout the series, those are the things to think about,” Miles said.

Expect to see some of the corporate partners and business-to-business relationships of the Penske Corporation become key partners of INDYCAR and IMS.

“It’s a remarkable opportunity with the ‘B-to-B’ opportunities the Penske Corporation brings to sponsorship is very, very special,” Miles said. “It’s not just that, but Roger himself and his senior team members have great access to companies.

“There is a major Fortune 500 company we thought we should have a conversation with because we could see them being a sponsor. We had not gotten through to a high level at that company. We mentioned that to Roger. The next day, there was a conference call with the COO, the CMO and the Director of Operations.

“Roger’s ability to access and prompt conversations and to do it without a lot of wasted motion is a great value.”

A race to the finish

Miles spent Christmas Day with his family in Jacksonville, Florida. He returned to his office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway bright and early on Thursday, Dec. 26 working on the final details of the acquisition.

“If I were to put a pin on the wall on the calendar, it would be Jan. 6,” Miles told NBC Sports.com in an exclusive interview. “There are standing starts, and there are flying starts in racing.

“Roger wants to be at absolute full speed on the day we close, and that makes this a priority.

“There is no time to waste between Christmas and New Year’s. In the first week of the new year, we will be closing, and then we will be ready for that ‘flying start.’ ”

Once it is completed, ownership of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR will transfer from Hulman & Company to the Penske Corporation.

If Miles and the Penske Corporation hit their goal of Jan. 6, that will conclude the 74-year run that Hulman George Family had as owners of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“The Hulman George Family didn’t need to sell this place,” Miles said. “But it made sense at this day and time.

“It is in a much better place than it was 10 years ago.”

Tony Hulman purchased Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 from Eddie Rickenbacker on Nov. 4, 1945. Since then, the Hulman George Family built the speed classic into the largest single-day sporting event on Earth.

The sale to Roger Penske and the Penske Corporation was announced on Nov. 4, 2019.

“That was a historic day for sure and a fabulous transition is now under way that is going to be really good for the Speedway, for INDYCAR and for our fans,” said Miles, who will be retained as CEO along with current INDYCAR staff (including president Jay Frye). “Our board of directors and a committee of our board were engaged in thinking about an array of strategic options for the last two and a half years.

“There were always rumors that something was going to happen. Once we got connected with Roger Penske, he said he was very interested.”

Miles and Penske kept a very limited group of people involved, and that is why the biggest auto racing story in the last 50 years was kept a secret.

Hulman & Company is transferring the “stewardship” of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the perfect person. Penske is the most successful team owner in Indy 500 history with 18 victories, 16 NTT IndyCar Series championships and a record 545 victories in all forms of racing.

More importantly, he has a deep love and respect for the traditions, heritage and importance of IMS, the Indy 500 and INDYCAR.

“Who has been more a part of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway other than the Hulman George Family than Roger Penske,” Miles said. “He is very studious and knows all the background.

“He is the right guy to carry the torch forward and take it to higher heights.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.