Roger Penske Honored at Amelia Island
Motorsports legend Roger Penske was the 2020 honoree of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance held this weekend at The Golf Club of Amelia Island.
Five Indianapolis 500-winning cars of Team Penske formed the core of the Silver Anniversary Amelia’s “Penske Indy Winners” class representing Penske’s dominance in the sport.
“It has been an incredible weekend at the Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance,” Penske said. “I want to thank Bill Warner and his entire team for all of their hard work to make this such a special weekend for me, my wife Kathy and for Team Penske.
“It has been a memorable weekend reconnecting with so many old friends and former members of our team and seeing all of the special cars from my racing history — more than 30 vehicles that either I raced or were raced by our team — has been amazing.”
A 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder owned by Rob Kauffman of Charlotte, North Carolina took home the Best in Show Concours de Sport Trophy. The car carried 1972 Indianapolis 500 winner Mark Donohue to six victories in eight races and to the 1973 Can-Am Championship for Team Penske.
After nearly a half century Porsche’s 917/30 is still the most powerful circuit racing car ever made. While no one knows the car’s ultimate top speed it easily achieved speeds of over 200 mph at circuits like Watkins Glen and Riverside. It set a closed course speed record of 221.16 mph at Talladega Superspeedway in 1975. Now 50 years later, that remains the fastest lap ever recorded on the steeply banked Alabama superspeedway.
Team Penske’s Indianapolis 500-winning cars on display included:
• The 1972 McLaren M16B/Offenhauser: Driven by Mark Donohue, the first of the 18 Indianapolis 500 winners entered by Penske;
• The 1988 Penske PC17/Chevrolet: Rick Mears’ Indianapolis pole- and 500-winning car;
• The 1994 Penske PC23 Mercedes-Benz 500I: Al Unser Jr.’s winner, known as “The Beast”;
• The 2009 Dallara IR-06/Honda: The third 500 win for Helio Castroneves;
• The 2019 Dallara DW-12/Chevrolet: Simon Pagenaud’s car which won the pole and the race.
Penske won his first national championship – an SCCA D Modified title — in 1961 racing a Maserati T61 and a Cooper Monaco. Sports Illustrated named him “Driver of the Year.” He retired from the cockpit with a stunning record of 51 victories in 130 races. He also logged top-five finishes in another 60 races. That record stands with even the greatest racers. Yet, it was merely a precursor for what was to come.
Penske applied solid business practices and an insistence that every component of his racing organization be executed to the highest standards. In 1962 he brought Dow-Jones-listed commercial sponsorship to sports car racing changing American road racing and leaving his mark on North American motorsport forever.
In 1966, Penske formed Roger Penske Racing. That ultimately became Team Penske, which has produced a stunning 18 victories (a record) in the Indianapolis 500, two Daytona 500 wins and a pair of NASCAR Cup Series championships, victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, plus the 12 Hours of Sebring and a trio of Trans Am title. Penske delivered McLaren’s first Indy 500 victory in 1972 and Porsche’s first Can-Am title in the same year. In all, Penske racers have earned more than 540 race victories, over 620 pole positions and 37 championships.