Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

December 7, 2010

Would Someone Please Explain Why Roger Penske is Bad for the IZOD IndyCar Series?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 9:25 pm

Roger Penske as the antichrist. The fox in charge of the henhouse. Certain doom. I keep wondering whether those expressing such angst are really that stupid or have other deep seeded problems related to mental health, maturity or level headed thought. Perhaps petty jealousy is behind it. Maybe it really is as simple as naïve paranoia. It is difficult to say. What is troubling is that many who I consider to be smart people are acting like Gladys Kravitz.

How can Penske almost singlehandedly bringing Chevrolet/GM back to Indy Car be considered bad? How can Penske getting all three of his Indy Cars fully sponsored for the season be considered bad? What happens when Penske leaves a series? Has history not shown all not associated with IMS fail in relatively short order?  Some conspiracy theories have Roger Penske buying IMS then flipping it. That is a good one.

It is perhaps easy to understand hand wringing when two teams will all the races. That truly sucks. So how do you put a stop to that? Pay attention to every little detail, put a serious effort into competing, hire people on the basis of talent and not the size of the check they bring, find sponsorship at any cost and be serious about competing week in and week out. That is how Ganassi did it. Nothing stops anyone else from building such an empire. That is what makes watching things Sarah Fisher has begun to do so compelling. It is also good to have a fully funded Kalkhoven/Vasser team around. It would be nice if Newman-Haas rediscovered what they once had. What would Indy Car be without Panther?

Roger Penske is in his mid 70s. He will not be around forever. His son does not seem to have the same passion for Indy Car as he does for other pursuits and it may be up to Gil de Ferran and Tim Cindric to continue that particular legacy. The sport needs MORE Roger Penskes. Not fewer. Michael Andretti could fit the bill but the goofy dysfunction that has plagued that team since almost day one is a source of worry.

What may seem creepy to myopic thinkers is actually compelling in the big picture. If Roger Penske can draw significant attention to Indy Car in the corporate world (as he is doing with manufacturers and sponsors) will that not encourage potentially wider participation as the economy improves?

Those who wish Roger Penske was not as heavily involved as he is probably ought to be careful for what they wish. All existing owners (besides Chip) should aspire to run organizations like his. Penske is largely self-made. Why can’t others follow the same path?



  1. Dear Defender:

    I guess that you did not break any bones during your ski trip or suffer a Sonny Bono style demise…anyway, I view Penske the same way that I view any other sports dynasty such as the Yankees or Lakers…you respect them, you admire them, you fear them, but you do not like them and you do not root for them. As much as I have enjoyed watching Mears, Emmo, Little Al, Danny Sullivan, all the way up through Helio and Will Power, I usually root for another team to win. As for Sarah “No Talent” Fisher, I say good riddance to one of the last vestiges of the failed IRL…perhaps her leaving the cockpit and turning the wheel over to a real drive in Ed Carpenter will yield some better results than her usual ‘five laps down’ finishes…

    Comment by Neil Rubin — December 8, 2010 @ 12:12 am | Reply

    • Fisher is “talentless” and Carpenter is a “real driver?” I don’t get it. Both are pretty strong back markers on the track. Neither can turn right. Fisher is the last of the failed IRL? Didn’t Carpenter race in the IRL for his stepfather who founded it? I think the last ambulance you chased stopped suddenly and you banged your head. Get that checked out Neil.

      Comment by Brad — December 8, 2010 @ 1:51 pm | Reply

      • Dear Brad:

        I do not chase ambulances, I pursue blood sucking HMOs and healthcare carriers that steal your healthcare premiums and then fail to pay for your healthcare neeeds…but seriously, Ed Carpenter had a strong run at Kentucky as he did last year at Chicago and given the right set-up and a full (or near full) season of experience, he can compete for wins, at least on the ovals…Sarah Fisher? Yes, she is a sweet girl and a fan favorite, but she has not been competitive for years and even talented drivers such as Graham who have raced for her team have struggled mightily. Sure, I watched Sarah finish in the money at Homestead in 2001 but she still lost to an IRL field containing the likes of Eliseo Salazar!!! Good grief!!!

        Editor’s Note: Keep up the good work regarding sleazeball HMOs. Someone has to do that dirty work. For that you need to be commended, despite the fact that you practice law. 😉

        Comment by Neil Rubin — December 9, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

  2. Hey, it just goes to show the fan base contains an occasional idiot.

    Comment by MTroy — December 8, 2010 @ 10:28 am | Reply

  3. I blame Roger Penske for the split more than any other person. He was the leader of the group to de-emphasize the Indy 500. Even to the point that they built their cars “for the season” and were bumped from the Indy field in that classic bump day in 1995. He is the driving force to bring back CART ala 1995. If that is what you want, then you might like him. All these street courses have Penske written all over them.

    It has nothing to do with the success of his team in recent years. Its the damage he has done in the past and will do in the future. For better or worse, he won the war with Tony George.

    The man is a brilliant businessman. I wish he would spend more time with those other businesses.

    Comment by Bob F. — December 8, 2010 @ 2:58 pm | Reply

    • 15 wins. 16 poles. Yeah, Penske sure does de-emphasize the 500. I’d hate to see how his cars would do if he actually gave a rat’s ass about winning the race.

      Comment by Steven Kornya — December 9, 2010 @ 3:57 am | Reply

  4. Apparently winning Indy means a lot to Roger, winning 15 of them. He gets it. As long as he’s breathing oxygen he’ll be at Indy and will be a force to be reckoned with. Love him or hate him, that is the measure of success. Roger has admitted the US Fi-hunnert was a bad mistake. The damage was originally done by Dan Gurney, then the cart contingent. Remember, they could have squashed the IRL like a bug if only they’d joined in the beginning. Serves them right for not giving the representative of their biggest event a voice in the early 90’s.

    Comment by The Truth — December 8, 2010 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

  5. Defender, I just recently found your blog. However, i can immediatly tell you and i will never agree on anything. Honestly, i question if you are actually a passionate indycar fan at all. Your question this week appears to be legitimate, so i will try to go slow. I don’t think Roger Penske is a bad person. However, i do believe his and Chips domination is absolutely KILLING indycar. People want to see a competition, not a exhabition of domination, year after year, decade after decade. Does Miss Budweiser sound familiar? The stands are empty and the television ratings are pathetic! I believe more fans would watch and attend races if they didn’t know who was going to win prior to the race actually happening. Yes, the rest of the paddock needs to step it up. Never the less, to not have a american on either one of those teams….UNEXCEPTABLE! I am greatful to Roger Penske for bringing GM to the series. But if i have to watch “ANOTHER” tearful fence climbing exhabition…Im going to “PUKE”.

    Comment by Darren S — December 9, 2010 @ 12:37 am | Reply

  6. By the way, Bob, just wondering, but what exactly was so bad about CART in 1995? 3 chassis and 4 engine manufacturers? 9 different winners from 7 different teams? The top 8 drivers being all North Americans? No unqualified ride buyers in the field? Racing at Michigan, Phoenix, and Nazareth, plus Road America, Burke Airport, and Laguna Seca? 45 cars trying to qualify at the 500? Or, since you keep mentioning boosting the speed at Indy, the fact that this year’s Indy pole winner would have sat on row 3 in the ’95 500?

    Say what you want about CART’s stupid decision to boycott. Say what you want about destroying their series, twice. Say what you what about shortsightedness, buffoonery, mismanagement, an unsustainable economic model and failing to understand that OWR without Indy can’t survive. That’s fine; and you’d be right on most points, and I’d agree with you.

    But don’t even try to argue that the racing in the series circa 1995 is anything but superior to the racing in the series we have now. Because it’s an argument you’d lose.

    Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, it is an argument that is completely irrelevant, except to fans of the twice failed series.

    Comment by Steven Kornya — December 9, 2010 @ 2:16 pm | Reply

  7. Steven, what position would the pole car from the 1996, 1997 Indy 500 have started the 1995 Indy 500?

    Comment by rosco — December 9, 2010 @ 11:40 pm | Reply

    • @Rosco: ’96: 96: Still with the ’95 engine formula on a newly paved track, Smoke sets a new track record. 97: Luyendyk would have been sitting in the stands eating a pork sandwich; 7 mph too slow to make the field. But remember, it’s an irrelevant argument; I’m just trying to be courteous and answer your question.

      Comment by Steven Kornya — December 13, 2010 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

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