INDIANAPOLIS — His hair was jet black and his shirt starched white when Roger Penske rolled into Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time as a team owner, with Mark Donohue behind the wheel.

He was young and ambitious and ready to conquer the racing world.

Much has changed in the ensuing 50 years.

The old racetrack has undergone massive overhauls, the original Gasoline Alley razed long ago and replaced by a new garage area. Technology has revolutionized IndyCar racing. An entire generation of race fans has turned over, their kids and grandkids now turning up at the speedway on Memorial Day weekend.

Penske is no longer young, either. He’s now 82.

But as he celebrates his golden anniversary at Indianapolis, it quickly becomes clear that plenty has remained the same. Penske still wears those crisp, white shirts. He is still ambitious, dogged in his pursuit of racing immortality. And while he may spend a bit more time on his boat these days, the truth is that racing remains his passion more than it has ever been a profession.


“You know, the work ethic, the go, it really hasn’t changed,” said Rick Mears, who raced to four of Team Penske’s record 17 Indy 500s victories. “He’s always said, ‘This is my golf game.’ Auto racing is his hobby and he loves it, especially here at Indianapolis. He just lights up.”

The love affair actually began in 1951, when Penske’s father, Jay, brought his son to the fabled speedway for the first time. There was little to remember about the race itself – only eight cars were running by the finish, when Lee Wallard took the checkered flag. But the young Penske was mesmerized by the speed and sound, his interest in all things auto racing solidified that afternoon.

“I remember we sat down off the fourth turn and could hardly see the cars go by,” Penske said this week, “and I guess at that point I was injected with motor racing and really wanted to drive here.”

For a while, it appeared his passion would manifest itself behind the wheel. Penske began to carve out his name in lower-tier series, and he was even offered a rookie test at Indianapolis.

But Penske’s father had always encouraged him to be an entrepreneur, and the business side of the sport was just as appealing. So when he turned down the test and a young Italian named Mario Andretti took it instead, Penske’s career began to change course.

He soon retired from driving to focus on his successful car dealerships, and in 1965 launched Penske Racing at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Four years later, he was back at the Brickyard as a team owner.


Donohue finished seventh that first year and second the next before reaching Victory Lane in an Offenhauser-powered McLaren in 1972. It began a period of sustained success unlike anything in the history of motorsports.

Penske has a good chance to win again Sunday, too, with all four of his cars starting from the first four rows. Simon Pagenaud will lead the way after winning the pole last weekend.

“I’ve said it before, we build our brand around the country with success at Indy,” Penske said. “I just think there’s no place like it. Everybody wants to win here, and to me, this is something that I want to do as long as I can.”

XFINITY: Tyler Reddick won at Charlotte Motor Speedway after taking the lead for good on a restart with 15 laps to go.

The defending series champion led 110 of 200 laps to win for the second time in the last three races. He finished more than two seconds ahead of Justin Allgaier. Jeffrey Earnhardt was third, followed by Noah Gragson and Justin Haley.

Reddick, a 23-year-old in his first season with Richard Childress Racing, had had eight consecutive top-four finishes.


“He has a talent,” owner Richard Childress said. “He will be a superstar in the (NASCAR) Cup division and we want him to do it for RCR.”

FORMULA ONE: Lewis Hamilton beat Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to take pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix, while Ferrari slipped down the grid after another error-strewn performance.

Hamilton shouted “Yes, yes, yes!” after claiming his second pole of the season and preventing Bottas from winning a fourth straight pole. Hamilton beat the Finnish driver’s time on his last lap and dedicated his record-extending 85th pole to Niki Lauda, a friend and mentor who died Monday at age 70.

“This one’s for Niki,” Hamilton said of the three-time F1 champion, who played a key role in persuading Hamilton to join Mercedes in 2013.

Max Verstappen underlined his consistent start to the season by qualifying in third place for Red Bull, ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

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