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Roger Penske, 'Mr Motorsport'


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#1 thunder427

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 13:44

Roger Penske;...I've been a Motor Sport person for ever (45yrs !!??)and every time I think of the ultimate Motorsport Personality,or discuss with other 'True Believers' of the sport, Roger Penske just 'tops' the list on all fronts,here is a guy whom employs thousands of Staff/People and on race day there he is standing on the wall, Consider the quality he bought to race car preration,the drivers he's took on board that have excelled,his bussiness prowess,(no!, I'm not appling for a job!!) take for example how he turned the old 'Kaiser' steel plant into 'California' Raceway, this Gentleman deserves the title of 'Mr Motorsport'..(.thats what I think anyway ).................!!?..... lets talk 'Roger Penske' stories ,photo's of those Great Camaro's....posts please !!

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#2 URY914

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 14:18

I would agree with you. He seems to be at every race that any of his teams run. There must me more than one Roger.

He also bought all the Sears Auto Centers and owns the Penske truck leasing company.

#3 fbarrett

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 15:32

Thunder:

Good idea for a thread.

Perhaps because I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania and almost went to Lehigh (RP's alma mater), he has been one of my semi-heroes since the 1960s, yet relatively little has been written about him. There's no biography--yet--perhaps because he wants to maintain his privacy. A recent book, Penske Racing Team by Alan Hummel, concentrates on the team, not the man, but it's well worth reading. His quiet involvement with Mercedes-Benz has fascinated me for years, especially the Ilmor pushrod engine that won Indy in '94. As you may know, it was designed, built, and developed in total secrecy. Having inadvertently collected a couple of interesting engines, I'd love to have an example. I tried to find one, but they are, shall we say, closely held.

RP must be one of the world's most intelligent racers and businessmen. If Dan Gurney ever gets to be President, RP should be on his cabinet!

Is anyone working on a full bio? One of his ex-PR guys, Dan Luginbuhl, lives near here (Colorado), and I should get together with him...

Frank

#4 petefenelon

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 16:37

Mark Donohue/Paul van Valkenburgh's The Unfair Advantage has a lot to say about the Captain in the first Golden Age of Penske Racing.

#5 Lotus23

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 15:04

At the risk of admitting my dotage, I recall seeing Roger behind the wheel several times in the early sixties.

Though we're close in age, and graduated from college the same year ('59), I've always admired him and what he's accomplished.

#6 Marc Sproule

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 03:36

I reckon this is a pretty good place to post the link to GKirby's latest column. It's Roger Penske telling some stories at last Thursday's Road Racing Drivers Club dinner in Long Beach.

RP shows a side of himself that is rarely seen. There is some very funny stuff in here.

http://www.gordonkir...t_is_no281.html

#7 E1pix

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 04:13

Is anyone working on a full bio? One of his ex-PR guys, Dan Luginbuhl, lives near here (Colorado), and I should get together with him...

Frank


Definitely a worthy project to immortalize The Captain!!!

I spoke with Dan a few times when he repped Danny, the perfect resource for sure. My wife flew those guys to the Hills many times as a FA.

I'm somewhere near you if you need a lift. :)


#8 B Squared

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 09:21

Team Penske has set the standard for preparation, performance and presentation almost as long as I've been a fan.

Mr. Penske and Mark Donohue would become one of the most famous alliances in the history of American motorsports. In the 1960s and '70s one could seldom utter either man's name without immediately associating it with the name of the other. Penske-Donohue came to mean blue race cars with the number 6. Sunoco colors, an advanced state of preparation - "the unfair advantage" - and a winning tradition.

from Mark Donohue: Technical Excellence at Speed by Michael Argetsinger.

B² with Mr. Penske at Michigan in 2004, I think. I've been fortunate to briefly converse with him a few times over the years. I admire and respect him immensely.
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#9 eurocardoc

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 10:39

RP'

the man would make a great president, however he has way too much class and intelligence.

Very intense, always respectful and gets the same out of all his employees. Should you ever visit the museum you will be amazed, and yes there is a row of the Chevy engines. I was fortunate enough to tour behind the scenes when it was housed at the Michigan track.

An amazing individual.

#10 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 11:37

Good Roger Penske anecdotes here.

http://gordonkirby.c...t_is_no281.html

#11 JacnGille

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 14:51

Good Roger Penske anecdotes here.

http://gordonkirby.c...t_is_no281.html

Ummmmm...Sproule beat ya to this one in post #6. :cool:

#12 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 10:26

Sorry, thought that was still in the 2008 posts era :p

#13 B Squared

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 11:46

From Sports Illustrated March 25, 1963. What Makes Roger Race by Gilbert Rogin. This is not a short article, but it is well worth the time to read. To me, it's very insightful to the never ending development of Mr. Penske and the empire he runs.

http://sportsillustr...74657/index.htm

A repeat from the Donohue thread a while back, but if you are interested in RP, a worthy one.

#14 Doug Nye

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 14:07

I believe - though I cannot now be certain - that it was the late Teddy Mayer who described Roger Penske as being "...the only guy I know who can strut while he's still sitting down". But what a fantastic track record... Perhaps the quote (if I have properly attributed it) tells us as much about Teddy as of Roger?  ;)

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 20 April 2011 - 14:08.


#15 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 22:22

I believe - though I cannot now be certain - that it was the late Teddy Mayer who described Roger Penske as being "...the only guy I know who can strut while he's still sitting down". But what a fantastic track record... Perhaps the quote (if I have properly attributed it) tells us as much about Teddy as of Roger?  ;)

DCN


I knew / know both of these guys well and can assure you Teddy would have been speaking tongue in cheek. The reason anyone works at Penske Racing is to work for RP. To be quite honest, strutting isn't RP's style, but if anyone can hold a candle to him I'd like to know who it is.

Edited by Nigel Beresford, 20 April 2011 - 22:25.


#16 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 23:41

Not a motor racing story, but at a large open pit coal mine in north eastern British Columbia, they had some very large dump trucks with Detroit Diesel engines. As an experiment by Detroit Diesel a couple were fitted with propane injection to try and accelerate them from idle faster. They were experiencing problems with the injectors, and when the Mechanical Superintendent was at home one evening he received a phone call. From what he told me the person at the other end was speaking on behalf of Detroit Diesel and apologised for the injector problems. He said that there would not be any more problems as they had bought that manufacturer. He then added: if you have any more problems phone me - my number is ------------ and my name is Roger Penske!

#17 E1pix

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 23:45

RP'

the man would make a great president, however he has way too much class and intelligence.

Very intense, always respectful and gets the same out of all his employees. Should you ever visit the museum you will be amazed, and yes there is a row of the Chevy engines. I was fortunate enough to tour behind the scenes when it was housed at the Michigan track.

An amazing individual.


Agreed! In lieu of that, I was most disappointed to hear Mr. Penske bowed out of buying Saturn Cars. :cry:

My understanding is not enough capital was raised, but am unclear on that (?). Man, I can only imagine what he might have done with that company!


#18 RA Historian

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 14:48

Agreed! In lieu of that, I was most disappointed to hear Mr. Penske bowed out of buying Saturn Cars. :cry:

My understanding is not enough capital was raised, but am unclear on that (?). Man, I can only imagine what he might have done with that company!

As I understand it, the problem was that GM would continue to build the cars for Penske for a strict three year period. After that they would be completely out of the picture. Hence, Penske's problem was finding a manufacturer to build cars that he could sell as Saturns. The proposed sale with GM did not include manufacturing facilities. Penske thought he had such a manufacturer lined up (Nissan?) but a contract for specific terms and for a comfortable length of time was not forthcoming. Therefore, without a contracted source of cars in place after the GM three year deal expired, Penske very prudently ended any plans for Saturn. Roger never does anything for which there may be any loose threads, even years down the road.

#19 E1pix

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 19:21

As I understand it, the problem was that GM would continue to build the cars for Penske for a strict three year period. After that they would be completely out of the picture. Hence, Penske's problem was finding a manufacturer to build cars that he could sell as Saturns. The proposed sale with GM did not include manufacturing facilities. Penske thought he had such a manufacturer lined up (Nissan?) but a contract for specific terms and for a comfortable length of time was not forthcoming. Therefore, without a contracted source of cars in place after the GM three year deal expired, Penske very prudently ended any plans for Saturn. Roger never does anything for which there may be any loose threads, even years down the road.


Thanks for the great explanation, Tom, and what a darned shame!

Maybe a good thing over time, and we'll see a car company simply named "Penske" someday. One can hope.

I'd buy one, put Sunoco into it, and stick a "Let George Do It" decal in the window.

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#20 B Squared

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 13:10

From the later days of Mr. Penske's driving career, March, 1965.

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#21 RStock

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 16:50

Just something I heard during a recent IRL race. R. Penske's son Jay has found the funding to field a car for, as of now, 5 races with Paul Tracy driving. When asked about it Roger's reply was "Great. The two people who have caused me the most trouble in life are teaming up."

#22 RA Historian

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 19:05

Just something I heard during a recent IRL race. R. Penske's son Jay has found the funding to field a car for, as of now, 5 races with Paul Tracy driving. When asked about it Roger's reply was "Great. The two people who have caused me the most trouble in life are teaming up."

:rotfl:

And for heaven's sakes, don't use those three initials! It is Indy Car now, corporately as well as the series name, as they are taking great pains to distance themselves from all the negative connotations associated with those three letters.

Tom

#23 E1pix

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 19:19

:rotfl:

And for heaven's sakes, don't use those three initials! It is Indy Car now, corporately as well as the series name, as they are taking great pains to distance themselves from all the negative connotations associated with those three letters.

Tom


For sure, the old image has got to go.... the new series is looking really good! :clap:


#24 RStock

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 20:20

And for heaven's sakes, don't use those three initials! It is Indy Car now, corporately as well as the series name, as they are taking great pains to distance themselves from all the negative connotations associated with those three letters.


The story of my life, always a step behind. :drunk:

#25 RA Historian

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 20:44

The story of my life, always a step behind. :drunk:

I know the feeling well, Robby!

#26 Tim Murray

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 19:06

Happy Birthday Mr Penske - eighty years old today.

#27 Jerry Entin

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 21:56

Does anybody know the chassis number of the last Zerex Special that Penske raced? It was a Traco Chevy-engined Cooper Monaco T61 and he ran it only twice; at Nassau in 1963 in Mecom colors and at Pensacola in 1964 in white Chaparral colors.

After Pensacola Penske switched to racing Chaparrals and the Cooper/Chevy was sold to George Wintersteen.

So far no chassis number has ever surfaced of this car, the only unidentified one of the six Coopers that he raced in his career..

#28 SKL

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 23:52

Great book by Gordon Kirby-  Penske's Maestro .   History of Penske Racing and Carl Kainhofer.  A must read !


Edited by SKL, 21 February 2017 - 06:26.


#29 Kenzclass

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 00:50

Does anybody know the chassis number of the last Zerex Special that Penske raced? It was a Traco Chevy-engined Cooper Monaco T61 and he ran it only twice; at Nassau in 1963 in Mecom colors and at Pensacola in 1964 in white Chaparral colors.

After Pensacola Penske switched to racing Chaparrals and the Cooper/Chevy was sold to George Wintersteen.

So far no chassis number has ever surfaced of this car, the only unidentified one of the six Coopers that he raced in his career..

According to World Sports Prototypes,Penske was the first owner of the Mk III CM/4/62 (Climax) in 1962.

An engine-less CM/2/64 was delivered to Mecom in 1964, which is later than Nassau, so maybe not that car.

Unfortunately the site doesn't show subsequent ownership histories of either of those Chassis No's.



#30 Jerry Entin

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 01:29

Kenzclass,

Be careful with sites like this one, as they tend to lead you astray with their ignorance.

Chassis CM/4/62 was not first owned by Penske. In fact, he never owned it at all. This was the works Monaco that Bruce McLaren drove in the 1962 West Coast series. After Laguna Seca 1962 Mecom bought it for Penske to drive, when his Zerex-Duralite Special [the central seater] was about to be banned.

Penske raced CM/4/62 at Nassau in 1962, then the car got the Zerex treatment, with customized body and Chevy V8 engine. I like to call it the "Son of Zerex".

Penske raced it only once after that, as the Mecom Special at Laguna Seca in 1963.
It was not a success and Mecom sold the car, minus its Chevy engine, to Sherman Decker, who installed a Ford.

As for chassis CM/2/64, it had nothing to do with Penske as he had left the Mecom team by early 1964. This chassis became the Hussein, raced by A.J. Foyt.

As for Penske's Nassau 1963 and Pensacola 1964 Cooper/Chevy, its chassis number is still a mystery.

all research: Willem Oosthoek

#31 Kenzclass

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 01:54

Thanks, Jerry. Noted for future (non?) reference there, and elsewhere.

I'm always careful to include the "according to" disclaimer on a lot of sites, especially when there's no on-going trail of ownership.

We'll all just keep digging, I guess.

Was the car in question definitely an original T61, or a "Penske-ised" updated earlier version (T57, say)? 



#32 JacnGille

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 02:15

Happy Birthday Mr Penske - eighty years old today.

:clap:



#33 SKL

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 06:28

They don't make 'em him anymore...

 

BTW, if you're ever in the PHX area,  go to his musuem in north Scottsdale- it is amongst his mega car dealerships, right there with the Bentleys and Ferraris...



#34 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 07:31

Kenzclass,

Be careful with sites like this one, as they tend to lead you astray with their ignorance.

Chassis CM/4/62 was not first owned by Penske. In fact, he never owned it at all. This was the works Monaco that Bruce McLaren drove in the 1962 West Coast series. After Laguna Seca 1962 Mecom bought it for Penske to drive, when his Zerex-Duralite Special [the central seater] was about to be banned.

Penske raced CM/4/62 at Nassau in 1962, then the car got the Zerex treatment, with customized body and Chevy V8 engine. I like to call it the "Son of Zerex".

Penske raced it only once after that, as the Mecom Special at Laguna Seca in 1963.
It was not a success and Mecom sold the car, minus its Chevy engine, to Sherman Decker, who installed a Ford.

As for chassis CM/2/64, it had nothing to do with Penske as he had left the Mecom team by early 1964. This chassis became the Hussein, raced by A.J. Foyt.

As for Penske's Nassau 1963 and Pensacola 1964 Cooper/Chevy, its chassis number is still a mystery.

all research: Willem Oosthoek

 

 

Was this the ex-Atkins/Salvadori T61M from 1963?  Bonhams said this car was "...built-up for (Atkins and Salvadori) from Cooper factory parts by (Atkins') master mechanic Harry Pearce..."  Bonhams then goes on to describe the 1964 Atkins/Salvadori Maserati powered T61M which apparently was a different car.  So if Penske had the Atkins/Salvadori Cooper, apparently built up from parts, maybe it didn't have a chassis number.

 

Also, the Revs Library has photos from 1963 at Nassau.  I can't see a chassis plate on Penske's dashboard.  Is that where they were?

 

 

Vince H.


Edited by raceannouncer2003, 21 February 2017 - 07:33.


#35 B Squared

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:49

From Foxsports' Samuel Reiman; Mr. Penske's 10 greatest racing accomplishments. Ten is surely not enough to fully represent this great Team.

http://www.foxsports...ishments-022017

#36 Tim Murray

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:59

Thanks Brian. I suspect though that Dan Gurney might take issue with the statement in that article that Penske is the only American constructor to have won an F1 race.  ;)

#37 B Squared

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 12:07

Thanks Brian. I suspect though that Dan Gurney might take issue with the statement in that article that Penske is the only American constructor to have won an F1 race.  ;)

Some journalists are rather lacking in knowledge...

#38 RA Historian

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 14:45

Chuck Brandt is a Cooper Monaco expert and a member of this forum. He surely would be able to straighten these cars out.

 

My understanding is that the special bodied Monaco that Penske raced twice was the prototype T-61 that McLaren raced in the west coast

pro events in 1962. That indeed did eventually go to Sherman Decker. The Wintersteen car was also raced by Penske at one time or another. I

understand that it had no serial number, but was built up from parts.

 

The Salvadori/Atkins Cooper was never a part of anything Mecom or Penske, as far as I can determine.


Edited by RA Historian, 21 February 2017 - 14:49.


#39 Jerry Entin

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 16:54

Vince,

Last night I was re-reading Roy Salvadori's bio, since I had a similar idea. A number of Cooper Monacos were built from parts as "kit cars" and did not come with a chassis number. This happened, only in the UK, for tax reasons, and there would have been no benefit for a US buyer.

Apparently the Tommy Atkins' 2.7-liter T61 was one of them. And Penske was aware of this car since they finished 1-2 in the 1963 Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch, the winner being the now two-seater Zerex Special of Penske.

I will have to look up the racing history of the Atkins car until the end of 1963. In Nassau in December it showed up, according to journalists as a brand new car, unpainted and with its Chevy engine not completely installed yet. Was the Atkins 2.7 Monaco still being raced in the UK in late 1963, or even seen there?

All research: Willem Oosthoek

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#40 Jerry Entin

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 17:02

A closer look at Salvadori's bio and the list of his races show that Roy did not race the 2.7-liter Cooper Monaco T61, owned by Atkins, after the August 1963 Guards Trophy. Before August Roy ran it on a regular basis, so the question arises, what happened to the car. Did Atkins sell it, either in the UK or to a foreign buyer? Are there any records of the car being raced under a new owner in the UK?

The reason I bring this up is that the time lines may indicate that it may well have been the unidentified Chevy-engined T61 that Penske raced at Nassau in 1963, so far not identified by chassis number.

Unlike a British buyer, there would have been no tax benefit for a US buyer of a brand new Monaco. Penske could have bought the Atkins/Salvadori car, in spite of the fact that his Zerex Special beat it in the Guards Trophy. It would explain why it did not have a chassis number, since the tax benefit had gone to Atkins previously [having bought it as a kit car]. But when and why?

Penske's ex-works T61 Monaco was still being worked on in the summer, with extensive body modifications ["Son of Zerex"], and a new aluminum Chevy engine. Not until Laguna Seca in October 1963 did the car turn out to be a disappointment. For Penske the thought would have arisen, what is my car going to be at Nassau in December 1963.

Penske could have ordered the Atkins T61 after Laguna Seca for a speedy conversion to Chevy power by his mechanic Roy Gane. Mecom mechanic Frank Lance told me he never saw the car in Mecom's shop in Houston and that Gane delivered it in Miami, for the boat to Nassau, coming from Pennsylvania.

Since the Cooper/Chevy came unpainted, people assumed it was new, but Gane could have sanded off the green paint previously. Since the original Zerex was built in 11 weeks, while the Atkins car needed no additional body work, time wise this may be a possible scenario. It also explains why the car arrived in Miami unfinished, due to time constraints.

All research: Willem Oosthoek

#41 Jerry Entin

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 20:11


Brain fade prevented me from mentioning that the last race of the 2.7 Atkins Cooper Monaco was not the August 1963 Guards Trophy, but the October 1963 Times Grand Prix at Riverside. Salvadori mentions in his bio that Atkins shipped over this car with a sale in mind. Apparently the 2.7 Climax was sold after the Times GP to Chuck Daigh, who was in charge of preparations of the Arciero Lotus 19 assigned to Jimmy Clark.
The 19 didn't run well at Riverside and Clark raced a local Lotus 23 instead. One week
later at Laguna, Clark proved very fast in the Arciero Lotus 19, which may have used the Atkins 2.7 by then.

So Penske probably snapped up an engine-less Cooper Monaco at a much reduced price from owner Tommy Atkins.


All research: Willem Oosthoek

#42 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 21:38

Reading Speed Cafe yesterday, Roger has been presented with his International Pantech truck that the team used from 72-81 all restored. for his 80th birthday.



#43 Tim Murray

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 21:48

As covered in this thread:

The Blue Hilton

#44 B Squared

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 10:39

One of many shots I took at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when it was set up for the Team Penske 50th anniversary display. I'd be happy to post more if anyone is interested.

RA%20Jerry%20Penske%2050%20IMS%20Watson%

#45 Tim Murray

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 11:43

Yes please Brian.

#46 B Squared

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 13:47

I have been trying to get Photobucket to respond for the last half-hour to post a few more and it's currently impossibly slow, so I'll try again later. Thanks for the note (and like) Tim and Manfred. B²

#47 B Squared

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 14:42

Mark Donohue's 1969 Lola T152 4WD turbo Offenhauser displayed in the garage setting in the IMS Museum. Jerry Kroninger, the Sunoco engineer with Team Penske during this time was traveling last year and I told him of this part of the exhibition when he and his wife stopped to visit me. They were on their way to Branson, MO and stopped at the Speedway to take in the Penske display. Jerry really liked the memories of 1969 that this brought back. He was the over-the-wall refueler for Mark in both 1969 and 1970. From what I understand, Karl Kainhofer had kept the garage sign from that month of May and has kept it in the pristine condition you see it. Karl drove the car on raceday morning of the 2016 Indy 500 when the vintage Indy Cars were paraded.

RA%20Jerry%20Penske%2050%20IMS%20Watson%

Edited by B Squared, 25 February 2017 - 15:19.


#48 E1pix

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 17:11

That's so nostalgic, it's almost haunting.

Wonderful photo, Brian!

#49 B Squared

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 19:37

Two additional shots of the Donohue/Penske Lola from 1969. Mark placed 7th and won Rookie of the Year after running as high as third late in the 500, when he was forced to stop for a magneto issue that Karl Kainhofer executed in (I believe) around 7 minutes.

Penske%2050%20Display%20at%20IMS%20Watso
Penske%2050%20Display%20at%20IMS%20Watso

#50 SKL

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 23:05

Great pix!!    Looks so strange with that huge turbo just sitting out there in the open...