There are many famous names associated with the Indianapolis 500 – Foyt, Unser, Mears, Andretti and now Castroneves as the latest driver to join the four-time winner’s club. However, one name stands above the rest and that is Penske. Roger Penske and his Penske Racing teams over the years have amassed 18 (as of March 2022) Indy 500 wins. Many of those coming from Unser, Mears and Castroneves. The Penske Racing Museum in Phoenix is a worthwhile stop if you happen to be in the area. Some of the racing car history highlights include: Al Unser’s yellow Cummins/Holset/Miller March 86C that was being used as a show car in the lobby of the Sheraton hotel, when Unser got a late call to race in 1987. The Ford Cosworth powered car earned Unser his fourth Victory and he became the second driver behind Foyt to win that many. Right next to that is the famous red and white Miller American “Spin and Win” 1985 March Cosworth that propelled Danny Sullivan into the record books. In another area is not only the Sunoco McLaren M16B that Mark Donohue drove to victory in 1972 for Penske, but also the Hurst/Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible that was given to Donohue for winning the race. Only 130 Hurst/Olds Cutlass convertibles from 1972 were built! Will Power’s 2018 Indy 500 winning Dallara/Chevrolet (and Corvette Pace Car) join some of the newer additions along with Josef Newgarden’s 2017 championship winning car. Mark Donohue got his first start at Indianapolis in the 1969 “500” and his four-wheel drive Lola T-152 is there with a plaque stating that he finished seventh that year and earned Rookie of the Year honors. There’s even a 1974 Penske PC-1 Formula One car that Donohue raced. This is a significant car in that it was the first car designed and manufactured by Penske Racing in Poole, England. Of the cars with fenders showcased, Donohue’s 1973 Porsche RSR IROC car that he won the inaugural International Race of Champions event at Riverside International Raceway (RIR) is there. He won three of the four events that year to become the first IROC champion. Roger Penske himself was a driver before becoming a team owner. In fact he won at RIR in a 1963 Pontiac Catalina that was owned by Nichels Engineering. That car is showcased there next to Brad Kesolowski’s Brickyard 400 winner and Joey Logano’s Daytona 500 winning NASCAR stock cars. Multiple engines (including the “Beast” – 1994 Indy 500 winning pushrod Mercedes), and scale models (some of which are actually wind tunnel models) are also on display. If you’re a racing fan and can appreciate the “Penske Perfect” way, then this is definitely a must visit place for you. It’s the best bargain in town – Free! BTW, his Ferrari and Maserati dealerships are adjacent so that there is plenty more to see, and buy! For more information visit: www.PenskeRacingMuseum.com.
By Larry Mason
Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason
The outside of the Penske Racing Museum fits right in with the local desert scenery.
1985 (#5) and 1987 (#25) Indy 500 winners are just two of the special Indy cars on display.
The one that got it all started winning for Penske at Indianapolis is the 1972 Sunoco McLaren driven by Mark Donohue along with the Hurst/Olds Cutlass convertible pace car.
Two of the race winning Ford Fusion NASCAR stock cars will grab the “doors and fenders” race fan’s attention.
Photos by Larry Mason