Newly announced Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske says he could envision one day holding a 24-hour race at the famed speedway, among other enhancements to the facility in the years to come.
Announced on Monday in a landmark deal, Penske Entertainment Corp., a subsidiary of Penske Corporation, has purchased IMS along with the NTT IndyCar Series and other motorsports-related assets from Hulman & Company, marking the end of 74 years of ownership of the speedway by the Hulman and George families.
The sale is expected to be finalized in January following receipt of applicable government approvals and other standard conditions.
Speaking in a press conference at IMS on Monday morning, Penske expressed his desire to add more high-profile events to the facility, including prospects of 24-hour endurance race and return for Formula 1, which hasn’t raced at IMS since 2007.
Sports cars have more recently graced The Brickyard, with Grand-Am and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship running races from 2012-14, and an eight-hour enduro planned for this October, as part of SRO Motorsports Group’s Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli and GT World Challenge America.
“I think we look at the speedway itself, the investment with the 100 million dollars that was put in a few years ago before the hundredth [anniversary], I think you’ve seen a tremendous change,” Penske said.
“We want to add capability as there are more fan zones, what can we use this for, can we run a 24-hour race here, can we run a Formula 1 race here.
“What are the things we can do? This is a great asset.
“Once the tradition had been broken in adding the NASCAR race, which obviously we’re going to get behind that in a big way because for 27 years they’ve run here. So I look at all of these across the board to see what can we do.”
It’s unclear what sanctioning body Penske could be after for a long-distance endurance race.
IMSA, SRO and the ACO have all held firm ground on maintaining only one 24-hour race on each of its calendars, in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Total 24 Hours of Spa and 24 Hours of Le Mans, respectively.
Penske is no stranger to track ownership and operation and is currently serving as the promoter of the Detroit Grand Prix, which serves as a round of the WeatherTech Championship.
“We bought Michigan Speedway in 1973; it was bankrupt,” Penske said. “We built California. We’re running the Grand Prix or helped present the Grand Prix in Detroit.
“This is in our DNA, and I think with input from the media, certainly input from our sponsor partners and all the teams.
“I had a chance to talk to most of the teams today, the principals, and we’re looking forward to getting together with the car owners and seeing what we can do to make IndyCar even stronger, and I think that’s something that would be a priority for me.”