NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske touched on a number of topics during an interview with select members of the motorsports media Friday in Detroit, Mich. (IndyCar Photo)
NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske touched on a number of topics during an interview with select members of the motorsports media Friday in Detroit, Mich. (IndyCar Photo)

Roger Penske Talks TV, Toronto, Engines & More

DETROIT – In a wide-ranging interview with SPEED SPORT and a few other national media outlets, NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske put some clarity on the next topics on his agenda.
 
That includes completing a new television contract that would begin next season.
 
The 105th Indianapolis 500 drew the highest television rating since the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016 and scored the highest rating ever for an IndyCar race on NBC. 
 
“Success never hurts when you are about to negotiate something in general business,” Penske said in a response to a question from SPEED SPORT. “I would say that was a good omen for us.
 
“But there are many things that go into where we are going in television in the future. Technology is changing so fast. What customers do we want to connect with and will television look like over the next several years?
 
“The TV thing is something we will have to deal with; it’s certainly not a barrier for the future.”
 
One of those potential networks that was reportedly interested in adding auto racing to its portfolio was CBS, but that is no longer the case. CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said two days ago CBS isn’t currently looking to add more racing aside from the Camping World SRX Series because the schedule is currently full.
 
“We have golf pretty much on every week there is either an IndyCar race or a NASCAR race, so at the moment there’s really no room at the inn,” McManus said.
 
Penske also indicated the canceled Honda Indy Toronto may mean one less date on the schedule instead of an additional race being added to an existing race weekend.
 
“We’re not racing at Toronto in 2021,” Penske said. “You have to look at it right now, these makeup races didn’t really help us last year. We made them up in order to have a series in 2020.
 
“Once we get through this weekend, we will make a decision whether or not we would add another race or not. At this point, we don’t have anything on the schedule to do that.”
 
Penske indicated there was “two really good possibilities” for a new engine manufacturer to join the series.
 
“We hope to know more about that in the next few months,” Penske said. “They both look pretty good, and we hope to add at least one of them in time for the new engine regulations to take effect in 2024.”
 
Penske also revealed that NTT IndyCar Series team owner Bobby Rahal, along with sponsor and supermarket chain HyVee, are working on a plan to help save Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
 
“It’s a matter of what the State of Iowa wants to do with it, but Bobby Rahal and one of his sponsors out there would like to get involved and help save it,” Penske said.
 
After an unpredictable 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Penske can now move forward to implement some of his goals and objectives since purchasing Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar on Nov. 4, 2019.
 
Two weeks ago Penske was able to experience a thrilling Indianapolis 500 that featured a large and enthusiastic crowd of 135,000 fans with a blockbuster winner in former Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves, who claimed his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory.
 
“We checked all the boxes; I was really excited with the outcome and to see Helio Castroneves win it and get his fourth Indy 500 victory,” Penske said. “It was pretty special to see him get his fourth.
 
“The credit goes to Mark Miles and Doug Boles and the whole team to go from no fans 60 days beforehand to 135,000 and execute to the guidelines were given was terrific. I think the team did an outstanding job. The feedback from what Doug tells me is off the charts.
 
“I’m going down to Indianapolis on Monday, and we will have 50 items on the list and take the top 10 and start working on them and then chop them off the blocks over the next several weeks as we work our way down the list.”
 
Penske admitted when he saw all the pageantry and then stood in the Winner’s Circle to give the command, “Drivers, Start Your Engines,” he was “shaking like a leaf.”
 
“I thought to myself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ I was shaking like a leaf to be honest with you. You don’t know what it’s like until you are in that type of situation.”
 
Castroneves drove for Team Penske from 2000 to 2020 and this was the first Indianapolis 500 that the popular Brazilian competed in the Indianapolis 500 for a different team.
 
“The finish was over the top,” Penske said. “I climbed the fence virtually.”

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