Roger Penske with the 50th Anniversary 2017 Camaro SS Pace Car. Photo courtesy Chevrolet.
For a guy who all but holds the deed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, given that his teams have won its signature event a total of 16 times, it’s remarkable to contemplate that Roger Penske has never driven a lap in anger at the hallowed Brickyard. Penske was offered a chance to take his rookie test in 1965 aboard a car fielded by owner Al Dean and chief mechanic Clint Brawner, but given the fact that Penske had just purchased his first auto dealership, he backed out. The ride went to another 1965 rookie, Mario Andretti.
Roger Penske with driver Helio Castroneves at Indy in 2015. Photo by Chris Owens, courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
As the winningest car owner in the history of American professional racing, and a world-class driver before he retired to enter business, Penske’s got nothing to prove to anyone. Yet he’ll lead the field down to the green next month as the official pace car driver for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. The Penske news – he is 79, by the way – comes after Chevrolet yet again was chosen to pace the starting field this year, using a pace-prepped 50th Anniversary Edition 2017 Camaro SS. If Penske glances in his rear-view mirror on the pace lap, he see four of his cars readying to take the green in this landmark event. One of them will be driven by Helio Castroneves, who has a chance to join racing’s most elite club during the event by becoming a four-time 500 winner alongside A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser Sr., the latter two having achieved the milestone while driving Penske cars.