MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Rivals on the track and comrades away from competition, Roger Penske and Pat Patrick shared the common bond of respect.
On the track, their teams battled each other through some of the glory days of IndyCar racing. Off the track, they bonded together and helped create Championship Auto Racing Teams, along with Dan Gurney in 1978. CART began competition in 1979.
Although it created a bitter dispute with the United States Auto Club (USAC), shared an uneasy alliance through the 1980s and early 1990s, and then flared up again over the creation of the Indy Racing League in 1995, CART was a premier racing series.
Ultimately, the IRL prevailed because it included the Indianapolis 500 as its cornerstone event. CART eventually became Champ Car and closed up operation in February 2008. Penske had joined the IRL full time in 2002 after returning to the 2001 Indianapolis 500. Patrick dabbled with an IRL team but was unsuccessful and eventually shut down his operation.
On Tuesday, Patrick passed away at 91. The 83-year-old Penske, who now owns IndyCar, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500, remembered his friend and rival.
“Pat Patrick was a shrewd businessman who had a great passion for racing and the people that work within the sport,” Penske said. “He knew how to put the right people in the right position to create a winning environment and he was a fierce competitor, in racing as well as in business.
“Winning series championships and more than 40 Indy car races, including three Indianapolis 500s, Patrick Racing was one of the top teams in our sport for many years. Pat was a visionary and a true innovator. His teams won a lot of races with the Wildcat cars that his company produced, and he took open-wheel racing in new directions by helping form CART and the Indy Lights Series.
“Pat was also important to the growth of our company as he served on the Penske Corp. board of directors for more than 15 years.
“He was a good friend, and our thoughts are with Pat’s family and everyone impacted by the loss of one of racing’s great leaders.”