WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump awarded Roger Penske with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor available in the United States, on Thursday during a ceremony at the White House.
Penske is a successful businessman who fields race teams in NASCAR, the NTT IndyCar Series and IMSA, as well as internationally in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship. He was also a successful driver prior to retiring in 1965 to focus on his business endeavors.
Through the years Penske has won the Indianapolis 500 18 times as a car owner, most recently in May with driver Simon Pagenaud. Josef Newgarden captured the NTT IndyCar Series championship in September for Penske.
He’s won the Daytona 500 twice as an owner and is a two-time Cup Series champion as a car owner, most recently with Joey Logano in 2018 and in 2012 with Brad Keselowski.
In addition to his racing endeavors, Penske is the owner of Penske Corp., which owns a number of businesses including Penske Truck Rental, the Penske Automotive Group and Penske Logistics, among others.
“It’s a wonderful honor to receive this award,” said Penske, who was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this year. “It’s amazing. Many years ago my mother and father invested in me and told me to love and (of) the passion of our great country. To think that I am standing here today in the Oval Office with the president, vice president and all of you here today and especially my family, to receive this wonderful award, just hard to believe that would happen.”
The Medal of Freedom was created by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. According to the official White House website, the Medal of Freedom is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
“From racing to business to philanthropy, you have moved from one great victory to another,” President Trump said. “You’re a truly a great champion and truly a winner. No matter what you do it turns to gold. You’re a legend at the speedway and you’re a legend in business. Your name is revered everywhere the checkered flag flies and beyond that.”