INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Roger Penske’s announced purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its properties reverberated literally throughout the world of motorsports racing and the town of Speedway just outside the front door of the track.
“Our history is intertwined and so is our future,” said Speedway Town Manager Jacob Blasdel. “It seems positive and I’ve had a chance to talk to Roger a couple times now and he’s very interested in the town.”
During Monday’s sale announcement, Penske suggested night racing, a 24-hour race, a return of Formula 1 and other fan enhancements could be part of the plan.
“He’s excited to work with us and he talked about making this a true destination and entertainment capitol of the world and not just racing capitol of the world, and in my conversations so far with him, he seems really behind that vision,” said Blasdel. “He’s talking about a thousand acres and a lot of that’s outside of the track, not inside, and he has a lot of ideas of what he wants to do.”
Since adoption of its 2005 master plan, Speedway has benefited from $150 million of investment to its Main Street corridor with another quarter billion dollars dedicated to the rest of the town.
Blasdel said having Penske as one of the community’s leading corporate citizens will boost Speedway’s efforts to court developers.
“It does certainly attach a new name in another way to the town of Speedway and, like any community, we want to utilize the benefits and advantages we have, and I would even venture to say that Roger will be a part of helping us in that way,” said Blasdel. “I think you’re going to see some more development around the track. I think that when we talk about an entertainment capitol that’s more than racing that you’re going to see some more events and activity, but I still think we’re going to be the tight-knit, small community that we’ve always been.”
Speedway may hope to retain that small town feel, but a former IndyCar marketing executive said its anticipated that the racing series should expect to be vaulted back up to its former competitive status with NASCAR and Formula 1 racing.
“The water rises for everybody,” said David Moroknek, President & CEO of Maingate, a sports marking firm. “We’ve just raised the level by bringing the Penske name into this realm. Yes, he’s been a car owner and he’s been very influential, but the amount of eyes that are now on this sport, the amount of corporations who are looking at it saying, ‘Boy, there’s something going on there. Roger’s involved. I need to take a second look at this,’ bringing more manufacturers into the sport itself because Roger’s involved, there’s so many things that this is going to do to raise the level of everything, businesswise, competition-wise, manufacturing-wise, that has never happened before because anytime you get a sale like this and bring in somebody like Roger, I’m telling you, everybody understands what he means to business.
“The name Roger Penske is synonymous with some of the greatest business leaders in our country, the Iacoccas of the world.”
Penske Entertainment Corporation will purchase the track, the NTT IndyCar Series and IMS Productions.
The sale does not include race artifacts, cars, artwork and the museum owned by the not-for-profit IMS Foundation.
Penske Corporation and Hulman & Company are privately held entities and not required to disclose the price of the transaction which is expected to close in early 2020.
By comparison, the Indianapolis Colts are valued at nearly $2.4 billion by Forbes Magazine which also listed the Indiana Pacers at $1.4 billion.
Neither team owns the stadium or arena in which it performs or the league in which it plays.
Moroknek said Penske has an advantage as the owner of his own track and series.
“The big difference is what he bought, he can now control everything. The Colts, they don’t control their schedule, they don’t even own their own trademarks. The NFL owns the trademarks and the NBA owns the trademarks of the Pacers, so they’re really a franchise model, where what Roger bought is, if he says, ‘We’re gonna paint the track blue,’ he can paint the track blue, so it gives him a lot more control over his purchase than it would be if somebody bought the Pacers or the Colts.”
IndyCar is in the midst of a three-year broadcast deal with NBC.
It was announced today that Formula 1 Racing has signed a new three-year contract with ESPN and ABC.
“From a value perspective, you don’t have the national television contracts at the level of the NBA and NFL,” said Moroknek, “but, certainly having that opportunity to build the business exactly the way he sees fit is a huge opportunity for him and would certainly raise the value of the purchase.”
Following the announcement Monday, Penske said he was committed to working with the town of Speedway in building the IMS and 500 Mile brand and properties.
“Look what’s happening to the little town of Speedway,” said Penske who has ascended to the Winner’s Circle 18 times at IMS. “I think that we can help build that, from the standpoint just driving in today to see the paving that’s been done, I just feel it’s a much different feeling and to me this is iconic. I feel it’s a stable part of the sports community in the state. There are great football teams, great colleges and certainly entertainment in the city is amazing, but we want to maintain this as the Racing Capitol of the World.”