There were plenty of reminders of Team Penske’s glorious past and present, along with its ties to the United Kingdom, as team owner Roger Penske accepted the prestigious Autosport Gold Medal during the Autosport Awards ceremony Dec. 4 in London.
Penske was only the second recipient of the award, which started in 2021 and is presented to an individual who has made immeasurable contributions to global motorsport, leaving a legacy for future generations. The Gold Medal is the highest accolade of the annual Autosport Awards ceremony.
Joining Penske on stage for the presentation during the black-tie gala at the Grosvenor House was current Team Penske driver and two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden; Gil de Ferran, who won the 2000 and 2001 INDYCAR SERIES championship and 2003 Indianapolis 500 for Team Penske; and former Penske Cars leader Nick Goozee.
Penske raced in England during his driving career. His race car constructor company, which built winning cars in Formula One and the INDYCAR SERIES for Team Penske, was based in Poole, England.
“Coming back to the UK is where it all started, 60 years ago at Brands Hatch, we had some success and then bought a store in Poole in Dorset,” Penske said on stage. “I think the UK helped start our racing business, and so there is always a connection between the two when the racing and the business grew.
Penske is an icon of worldwide auto racing, winning as a sports car driver early in his career and continuing his winning ways as owner of Team Penske since hanging up his driving gloves in 1965.
Team Penske is synonymous with winning. The team has captured a staggering 17 championships, 18 Indianapolis 500 victories and 231 race victories in INDYCAR SERIES competition. In the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series, Team Penske has won 10 championships, three Daytona 500s and 219 races.
Even at age 85, Roger Penske’s thirst for winning hasn’t been slaked. Team Penske recorded one of its best seasons ever in 2022, sweeping the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NASCAR Cup Series titles in the same season for the first time, with drivers Will Power and Joey Logano, respectively. The team also pushed its overall victory total in all racing disciplines past 600 this season.
“Winning both INDYCAR and NASCAR this year was incredible,” Penske said. “We had a great year.”
Team Penske also has enjoyed success outside of the INDYCAR SERIES and NASCAR. Penske drivers also have taken checkered flags in Formula One, Trans-Am, Can-Am, IMSA and V8 Supercars. Besides its success on the Indianapolis and the Daytona ovals, Team Penske also has won the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Roger Penske also added a new dimension to his motorsports empire by purchasing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR in January 2020, leading both into a new era of continued success and stability for the future.
Legendary three-time Formula One World Champion Jackie Stewart presented the Gold Medal to Penske. Stewart was Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 1966, three years before Team Penske first entered a car in the Indianapolis 500.
“I cannot think of anyone in the world of motorsport that has done so much, that that man has,” Stewart said on stage. “He changed the sport in the United States of America. He's got information that I don't believe anyone else in this room has.
“What he's done for motorsport, of course, the Americans think he's wonderful. But for us in Europe, he's the perfect example of what we should be doing in the future. There can't be a better model than this man, so what he's done is quite remarkable. The whole family is a fantastic family and an example of how we should all be.”
While Penske was saluted for his incomparable achievements on the racetrack, his ability to form relationships lasting for decades also was saluted.
Stewart shared a story about how Penske bought Stewart’s wife, Helen, a new car, after Penske forgot to send her flowers after staying at the Stewart’s home.
He’s a remarkable man that I’m really proud to call a friend,” Stewart said of Penske.
Newgarden and de Ferran also thanked Penske for raising their personal standards as drivers and as people.
“Roger does so much for so many,” Newgarden said. “I've never met an individual like Roger who can do all the things he does and can do more. My experience of this team is really, it boils down to Roger being the best example for everybody and that transcending through to everyone.
“That internal desire cannot be replaced, and Roger has this uncanny ability to bring that out of everyone he works with. With a boss like Roger, you get the best out of yourself.”