Penske in surprise swoop for IndyCar Series and Indy 500 track
Roger Penske, the billionaire US motor racing entrepreneur, has today acquired the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the iconic Indy 500.
The surprise agreement between Penske Entertainment Corp and Hulman and Company, announced today, also includes Indianapolis Motor Speedway Productions.
The Hulman family has owned IndyCar for 74 years, and its chairman Tony George revealed that it was the company that approached Penske "about this opportunity and began working to put an agreement in place."
Penske is the winningest team owner in Indy 500 history with 18 victories, including this year courtesy of French driver Simon Pagenaud. US driver Josef Newgarden won this year's IndyCar drivers' title, the 15th for Team Penske.
Penske said: "We have so much respect and appreciation for the history and tradition of the Speedway and the sport of IndyCar racing. I want to thank Hulman & Company for the opportunity to build on this legacy and it will be an honor for Penske Corporation to help lead these great institutions forward into a new era."
Mark Miles, president and chief executive of Hulman, added: "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the NTT IndyCar Series have enjoyed considerable growth over the past decade, with significant increases in television, digital and social media audiences combined with record attendance at many of our race venues.
"With their track record of business success, their venue, operation and event experience and their passion for motorsports, Roger Penske and Penske Corporation will help us take the IndyCar Series, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and all of our properties to new heights. Everyone on our team looks forward to working with them to capitalise on the momentum that the Series and the Speedway have achieved."IndyCar is coming off the back of a stellar ratings season, the first year of an exclusive three-year domestic rights deal with NBC Sports Group. Viewership for the 16 races in 2019 averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.105 million viewers, compared with 1.011 million on ABC and NBCSN in 2018.
US viewership of the Indy 500 was up 11 per cent on 2018, with a TAD of 5.475 million viewers on NBC.
Until this season, ABC broadcast the Indy 500 (and had done so since 1965), plus four other races, with the remaining rounds shown on NBC cable and satellite channels, in an expenses and revenue sharing agreement.
This was also the first season under new title sponsor NTT-Data, the Japanese IT corporation, and of the new in-house IndyCar Media unit responsible for distributing the series' international rights.
ESPN International, an arm of the USA-based sports broadcaster, had distributed international rights for the past two decades.