Penske’s purchase of IMS, IndyCar finalized

The sale of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar series to Penske Corp. was completed Monday, ushering in a new era for the famed racetrack and financially struggling open-wheel racing league.

Terre Haute-based Hulman & Co., which had owned IMS since 1945, announced Nov. 4 it planned to sell the properties—along with IMS Productions—to Penske Corp. subsidiary Penske Entertainment Co.

Penske has no plans to change leadership at any of the entities in the immediate aftermath of the purchase.

The sale, which sources have told IBJ was valued at roughly $300 million, included more than 950 acres of land, counting several significant parcels outside the Speedway proper.

“We have been diligently working with the teams at IMS, INDYCAR and IMS Productions over the last two months to ensure a smooth and productive transition and we are ready to hit the ground running,” said Penske Corp. Chairman Roger Penske in a media release. “Now, it is time to get to work as we continue the growth of the Speedway and we build on the momentum of the NTT IndyCar Series.”

Penske has said he would like to make the track an “entertainment capital” and perhaps add a 24-hour race.

Penske Entertainment is now the fourth owner in the history of the track, which was built in 1909. The company’s acquisition of the property has been mostly lauded in racing circles

It took Penske Corp. only six weeks to reach a purchase agreement with Hulman & Co. The sale was announced in November. The very next day, the 82-year-old Penske walked the entire grounds and began making lists on improvements “The Captain” wants done.

Penske first attended the Indianapolis 500 in 1951 as a teenager and has missed only six runnings of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” since. His 18 victories in the Indy 500 as a car owner are a record, and Simon Pagenaud swept the month of May for Team Penske last year.

Penske will step down as race strategist for Will Power to avoid any conflict of interest in owning the series as well as a three-car team.

The IndyCar Series has been in a slow rebuild but the industry hopes Penske’s reach can speed up the process.

IndyCar has been unsuccessful so far in luring a third engine manufacturer to the series—one of the many bucket list items that Penske may have an easier time achieving. An American industrialist, his fortune was built in the trucking and transportation business, but he is highly connected in the automotive world and an important fixture in Detroit.

Penske owns multiple car dealerships and competes for Chevrolet, Ford and Acura with his various race teams.

Penske joins Carl Fisher, who built the track in 1909, Eddie Rickenbacker, who purchased IMS in 1927 and the Hulman family as the only owners of the venue.

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