Who Owns Millbridge Speedway? [Facts!]

It’s a question that has been gaining more traction as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom large over the world. One of the most prominent centers for motor sports was the site of a high-profile motorsports championship race on April 18th which was postponed to 2021/2022 due to concerns over the coronavirus. The New York Times reported that the Millbridge Speedway Grand Prix was postponed to the summer of 2021 and that its owner, Jay Penske, was seeking an extension to the season due to the pandemic.

Penske is the son of the late prominent sports business owner and team owner, Jack Penske; and is involved in a number of business ventures, including owning the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Flyers. He has an estimated net worth of around US$8.5 billion.

While Jay’s interests may be myriad, his professional activities revolve around motor sports. Millbridge Speedway is one of three NASCAR racetracks that he owns and operates (along with the Arizona Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway).

If you’re unfamiliar, NASCAR is a popular American motorsport that was first held in 1947 and organizes races that feature the popular cars and bikes that you may have heard of, such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and Harley Davidson.

The format for a NASCAR race is pretty straightforward. Teams of drivers, who are all professional motorcycle racers, compete for cash and prizes in a series of stock car-style races. The overall winner is decided by the total amount of points that each team achieves in each race. For example, if a team wins three out of four races, they will have racked up thirty-three points, while their closest competitor might have scored twenty-nine. In a head-to-head race, the same scenario would play out except the participants are drivers rather than teams.

Here’s where things get interesting. Penske is the latest entrant on what has become a trend of wealthy individuals dipping their toes into the world of motor sports. Just this year, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos purchased a minority stake in the Sauber car team, while the CEO of energy company Hess, John Hess, purchased a controlling interest in the Williams car team. The trend, however, predates the pandemic. The founder of the Dutch Oma Company, Ruud Oma, owned a racing team that was highly regarded in the 1960s and ‘70s, and today, his company still owns the Oma International Speedway, a 4.9-mile track in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which they use for testing and training. Oma’s son, Roel, has since taken the helm of the company.

The Economic Impact of COVID-19

The effect of COVID-19 (or the pandemic as it was initially called) on the economy is difficult to fathom. The majority of North America and Europe were initially thrown into a state of economic shock, with many businesses remaining closed for weeks or months. In fact, according to the International Monetary Fund, the global economy as a whole lost over US$20 trillion in 2020 due to the pandemic.

In the U.S., the unemployment rate shot up from 3.9% in February to 15.1% in April, May and June 2020. Anecdotally, at least, it seems that the majority of the country’s richest citizens are now engaged in a race to build a business or brand that can weather the pandemic and offer employment to thousands. With so much at stake, it’s little wonder that there’s been a lot of interest in the Penske family’s long-running motorsports business.

Even prior to the pandemic, Millbridge Speedway was a significant economic driver for the region. According to the most recent figures available from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the track generated an estimated US$17.8 million in direct spending in 2018 and supported more than 400 jobs. With the pandemic looming, it’s possible that this number could be far higher.

Wanted: A Title To Call My Own

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty of this particular article. One of the most intriguing aspects of the Penske saga is that he’s looking for a title to call his own. Other investors, most notably Bezos, have formed limited liability companies and are competing for attention in a bid to secure a stake in a NASCAR team. Each company wants to be associated with the most prominent win in NASCAR history, especially since that would make their investment quite valuable. A number of drivers have been invited to participate in a selection process that will determine which company gets to call themselves the “successor team” to Jay Penske’s outfit. The grand prize for this contest is $1 million.

The Owner of Millbridge Speedway

While the identity of the owner of Millbridge Speedway is a closely-guarded secret, information regarding Jay Penske’s interest in the track has been trickling out in recent days. According to local news site The Patriot-News, sources claim that the current owner of Millbridge Speedway is a company called Seven Arrows, which is owned by Chinese entrepreneur Li Shufu, who also owns a number of other businesses, including a minority stake in the New York Yankees. The report claims that this is not a coincidence, as an entity called Seven Arrows already had an agreement in place to purchase the track back in 2018, but the deal fell through at the last moment.

Li Shufu also owns a Ferrari dealership in New York and has extensive ties to the Chinese government, which may have hurt his chances of securing the necessary approvals to purchase the track. While the situation remains unclear at this point, it seems that Chinese money is looking to become a significant force in American motorsports.

NASCAR’s Take On COVID-19

As we’ve established, Penske is not the only wealthy individual with an interest in NASCAR. The entire organization has jumped on the bandwagon, with several teams now seeking to capitalize on the interest in motor sports that the pandemic has generated.

From the very beginning, NASCAR has been concerned about the financial effect that the pandemic would have on their businesses. Their solution was to hold a number of virtual races, which they entitled the “Race to the Bottom”. In this race, the overall winner is decided by the lowest e.t. p., or “fuel” usage per lap. In other words, at the end of each lap, the cars with the least amount of fuel are declared the winners. This race has been held each Sunday since the inception of the XFINITY Championship (which is also sponsored by Monster Energy).

This race was initially held to complement the traditional “winner take all” style of a NASCAR race. However, as the economy began to rebound and people were looking for ways to spend their time, the “Race to the Bottom” has taken on a life of its own, attracting thousands of viewers each week. In fact, the virtual races have generated such interest that NASCAR is even considering making them an annual tradition.

In addition to the “Race to the Bottom”, NASCAR has been working with state and local officials to establish a framework for athletic competitions, including motorsports, to help return to normal as quickly as possible. One of the primary concerns for the organization is safety, and they’ve taken a number of measures to ensure that drivers, fans and journalists can all feel comfortable at their events.

Other Vendors At The Track

Aside from Jay Penske, who owns the track itself, there are a variety of other vendors who sell food, drink and souvenirs at the venue. In addition to cars and bikes, Millbridge Speedway also features greyhounds, which are similar to miniature horses but are smaller and faster. Racing greyhounds is an Olympic sport and the fastest of the bunch can reach up to 100 mph.

A number of other businesses, including J. Crew, Guess, HP, Subway, T-Mobile and Bud Light, also have a presence at the track, with some shops and restaurants even located inside the grandstands. In case you’re wondering, yes, the track itself is actually located in the City of Media, which is named after its most prominent business, the Philadelphia Inquirer. The only way to get there is by taking the Media/Shadysburg Bridge or the Walt Whitman Bridge, both of which connect the city to its surrounding suburbs.

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