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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 

Inside IndyCar’s iRacing revolution: Oliver Askew, team take it seriously

SimMetric Labs
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No laps have been turned in the NTT IndyCar Series this season, yet rookie Oliver Askew incessantly is analyzing fresh lap data with his Arrow McLaren SP team.

For the past two weeks, Askew has turned hundreds of laps in iRacing at Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park, and his support team meticulously has scoured the data in real time.

Race engineer Blair Perschbacher, assistant engineer Mike Reggio and strategist Billy Vincent are connected via all the software and timing systems that are on Askew’s real-world No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet. After every run, numbers instantly are crunched, and Askew debriefs with his crew on improving the handling of his car in search of every fraction of a second as he would in real life.

WATCH: IndyCar iRacing Challenge, 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN or streaming here

The only difference is Askew is sitting inside a simulation rig housed by a 45-foot trailer in West Palm Beach, Fla., while each team member is in an Indianapolis area home.

“They basically set up their own timing stands in their living rooms,” Askew told NBCSports.com. “It’s awesome.”

It’s the new reality for IndyCar, which will play host to the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBCSN) at virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

Last Saturday, Askew started and finished fifth at Watkins Glen International, where he practiced with the advisement of his team for more than 15 hours in the SimMetric Driver Performance Labs simulator. Despite a relative sim racing newbie, Askew, 23, finished only two spots behind Will Power, who has more than 1,500 starts and 150 victories on iRacing road courses.

Askew already has practiced for more than 10 hours this week in his simulator for Barber, where he hopes to make the podium against a 29-driver field that will include many champions and winners.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “You can tell by the results at Watkins Glen. You know which drivers have built their sims properly. How much they’ve been practicing. Those are the guys who finish up front.

“I’m still trying to represent everyone. It’s cool we have the same paint scheme. We’re just trying to represent Arrow and our partners the best as possible. We know they’re all watching, and it seems the viewership is going up.”


The Jupiter, Florida, native has found an edge through his friendship with SimMetric Driver Performance Labs, which is based in nearby West Palm Beach, Florida. Askew and SimMetric CEO Greg De Giorgis met last year through mutual friends. Last year, Askew had done a few simulator sessions before winning the 2019 Indy Lights championship (and graduating to the ride with Arrow McLaren SP).

With an official simulator partnership in the Road to Indy program, SimMetric’s CXC Motion Pro II simulator travels in a trailer to racing events around the country, providing drivers with extra preparation time for the real world.

The full-motion simulator includes a motion system developed by drivers and engineers, hyrdaulic brakes and force-feedback steering system. Though at the high end for simulators available to the general public, it retails for much less than the seven-figure simulators used by auto manufacturers with race programs.

“While time in a driving simulator will never fully replace real seat time, sim seat time can go a very long way in supplementing the seat time a driver gets,” De Giorgis told NBCSports.com in an email. “With three added benefits you don’t get in the real car: Significantly lower cost per hour, no risk of bodily harm or damage to the car, and of course, no limitations on time.”

There are some limitations for how much Askew can practice, though. A schedule was set up last week so the team, Askew and De Giorgis (who helps run the simulator and maintain communications with the team) could work together while also maintaining self-isolation with their families.

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The trailer with the simulator is parked indoors at the Riviera Beach, Florida, shop of Extreme Velocity Motorsports, which also has an unofficial affiliation with SimMetric.

“We’re practicing social distancing and making sure the trailer and everything is clean,” Askew said. “We’re taking that very seriously. It’s still a job for me, so I need to get what I can out of it.”

He’s gotten a lot from it despite a lack of experience. The team can compare simulation data from iRacing to real-world historical data from past races and test sessions.

Reggio handles fuel data, and Simpson monitors strategy and timing. While setups are fixed for the iRacing IndyCar Challenge, Perschbacher is able to work with brake bias. “He’s just trying to bend the rules as much as we can,” Askew said. “We’ve done a lot with brake bias. That’s pretty much all we can change.”

Fans also can watch Askew practicing via a YouTube channel provided by De Giorgis, who has chatted with viewers about the car’s laps in real time during the streams that are available by clicking here.

Fans will be able to find a live stream of Askew’s race Saturday by clicking here.


It’s all relatively new to Askew, who doesn’t even have a sim rig at his Indianapolis home. His previous sim experience mainly came on the Chevrolet simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina.

“Honesty, for me personally, I’m a little late to the party,” Askew said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that. I’m young and they assumed I’ve been doing this. I’ve never even had my own iRacing account before. Guys like (McLaren driver) Lando Norris, (Watkins Glen winner) Sage (Karam), all these guys have been streaming live on Twitch and have been running iRacing for multiple years now.

“ It’s a great way to get fans engaged in the race weekend and get eSports get bigger and bigger every year. Very interesting moving forward. It’s cool that IndyCar has dipped their feet into these waters now. Even once the season starts, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do more of these races.”

If so, he and his team have learned to keep an eye on Power, a real-world ace on road courses. During some practice races Thursday, Askew thought he’d done well by qualifying third, but Power then put a half-second on the field by winning the pole position.

“Will is unbelievably quick and does the same things in real life as well,” said Askew, who did turn the fastest lap in the practice race. “He just pulls it out somehow. That’s where the engineers and our staff in Indy come into play because they’re able to watch his on-board in real time and replay his on board to figure out what he’s doing to get the most of out of his car in the video game.

“It gets the creative juices flowing again. It’s still very different from real life, but I think we’re going to be able to start the season a little more fresh than we would have without this.”

Chris Graythen / Getty Images