If you’re looking for a new car race team or sponsors, you’ve probably thought about contacting the folks over at Speedway Motors. The company is most well known for their sponsorship of the NASCAR race cars but they also have a motorsport division that puts out Formula One race cars and Indy Car racing teams as well. Having sponsored several teams over the years, we thought it’d be a good idea to dive into the world of Speedway Motors and find out more about their legitimacy.
We first need to go back in time to the 1950s when a man named Roger Penske founded Speedway Motors. He began by buying up to 19 race cars and modifying them to fit his fancy. Then, he entered them all in the 1955 World’s Fair Championship Race in New York City. Of the 19 cars he entered, 14 of them finished the race and he took home the $12,500 first prize money. At the time, this was a lot of money for a single race. After this major success, he went on to win the Grand Prix World Championship in 1956, 1957, and 1958.
During this time, he also became the owner of the Milwaukee Mile and the Charlotte Speedway. In 1961, he bought the rights to the Indy 500 and renamed it the Indianapolis 500. The next year, he brought the first Indy 500 to Milwaukee and dubbed it the “Roger Penske Memorial.”
Penske is credited with starting the “green” movement in auto racing. He was one of the first to use non-smoking tires and he was also the first to use fuel injection in the cars. In addition to being a sponsor of several NASCAR teams, he also sponsored the first race bikes, sails, and sleds. These were all considered environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional combustion-engined vehicles at the time. Nowadays, these types of racing machines are prized possessions and many of them fetch high prices on the collector’s market. Today, it’s hard to find a race car that hasn’t been modified by either Penske or one of his teams. This includes the cars he originally purchased and built as well as those that he has modified over the years. He is often credited with building the first “sports car” out of an old Caddy. This was back in the 1950s and it was actually pretty common at the time for car manufacturers to build racers based on their passenger cars. It was a quick and easy way to get a NASCAR team up and running. The majority of the cars purchased by Penske during this time were actually in a very bad condition and he had to put his own money into them. He also had to mortgage his home and put up an additional $100,000 just to be able to purchase a single car for testing purposes. Today, these types of investments would be considered crazy but back in the day, it was all about building a winning team. Sometimes, these cars still pull in the 300+ MPH range even today and, despite needing to be stored outside due to space constraints, many of them are still driven on a regular basis. Some of them have even been featured in movies. For example, one of his original 1955 Buicks was used as Rosie O’Donnell’s car in the 1986 movie, “Horse Whisperer.” One of the most recognizable faces associated with NASCAR is Ron Hornaday, better known as “Buddy” in the movie “Days of Thunder.” Buddy owned several cars that were purchased by Roger Penske and these are still raced occasionally today. When Penske passed away in 2013 at the age of 92, he was reportedly worth about $16 million. This made him the second-wealthiest person in NASCAR behind only Jim Irsay.
These days, Speedway Motors is most well known for their sponsorship of several NASCAR teams. However, the business has been around for much longer than that and they continue to sponsor various racing teams and driver organizations. Today, you’ll often see them sponsoring Indy Car teams as well as various bike races all across the country. In 2019, they will be sponsoring all three NASCAR Cup Series races in New York City, Nashville, and Birmingham as well as the Indianapolis 500. These are all highly prestigious events and many people consider them as the pinnacle of any motorsport enthusiast’s career. These are the kinds of races that you might see a driver win or lose their entire driving career in. It really is a case of “what happens at Indy stays at Indy.”
One of the main reasons why their sponsorships continue to be so valuable is because they have a long history of being able to “move the needle” when it comes to getting people interested in racing. For example, in the 1940s, their sponsorship of a NASCAR team led to hundreds of thousands of women getting into auto racing. At the time, it was unheard of for women to be involved in such a masculine sport and their association with NASCAR helped bring more women into the sport. In the 1950s, their support of a Junior Johnson team brought in a whole new generation of racers. It wasn’t just about winning either, their innovative marketing strategies and celebrity sponsorships continue to be key factors in the sport’s growth today. Many of their current sponsorships were actually developed over the years as a result of their previous associations with various racing teams and organizations. For example, their partnership with Monster Energy to become the “Official Energy Drink of NASCAR” was developed as a result of their long-standing relationship with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It’s safe to say that they’ve been pretty successful in all aspects of their business and they continue to play an integral part in the growth and popularity of motorsport across the country.
An Evolutionary Approach
These days, NASCAR is a bit more like NASCAR than ever before. Over the past decade, the sport has seen an incredible amount of change and evolution. First, they added another level of racing: the Xfinity Series. Then, they created the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, which is the top level of competition, and they also created the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Next came the IndyCar Series, which is currently the second-most popular auto racing series in America after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. IndyCar is famous for its iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is one of the biggest and most recognizable sports venues in the world. It holds the record for the largest permanent motor vehicle collection in the world as well. It also has one of the most famous party boats in history: the M/V Abraham Lincoln. Finally, they brought back vintage auto races like the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. This season, they will be holding the 60th edition of the Daytona 500, which will be the first one to feature the new 2021 regulations. It also marks the first time that the Daytona 500 will be held during the summer since the season went from spring to fall racing back in the day. This is all in an effort to make the sport more accessible and more affordable for families. As a result of all these changes, attendance at NASCAR races has increased by 12% while broadcast ratings have increased by 21%. This proves, without a doubt, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
A Look Back At The Past
Although he was known for building race cars, Penske also had a long career as a race driver. He won the World Grand Prix Championship in 1968 and he also won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1969 and 1971. He was also the founder and owner of the Penske Trucking Company, which hauls freight for large companies across the country. In 1969, he purchased a stake in a group of truck stops called Circle K and he became the majority owner of the chain in the ‘70s. As a team owner, he was mostly known for his innovative marketing strategies. He would often times pull stunts at his own races to get the attention of the crowds. During one particular race, he dropped the microphone on the track which led to Jimmy Spencer, who was working the race for NBC, getting fired. He was also the first to use the phrase “Sports Car Club of America” when talking about the organization that he helped to found. The Penske organization still holds the record for the most wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona, having won the prestigious race 12 times.