Team Owner Roger Penske Says Motorsports Industry Starting To See Recovery
Penske Racing Owner Roger Penske sat for a “rare all-things considered” interview prior to the March 27 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and spoke about “everything from NASCAR’s crowds to the economy to the future of IndyCar,” according to Holly Cain of FOXSPORTS.com. Penske remains “optimistic about NASCAR’s ability to overcome its current attendance slump.” He said, "We just have to realize in today’s economic environment people just can’t spend the money they were spending. When you look at the demographics with NASCAR, you’ve got a 160,000-seat stadium and you have 120,000 (in the stands), it looks like you’re in trouble. But we had the Super Bowl in Detroit in 2006 and we had 72,000 seats and everyone said it was success.” Penske said of smaller sponsorships versus full-season deals, “One of the things that’s tough is the fan identity of the red-and-white (IndyCar) car, or the blue (NASCAR) car with number 2 on it. They’re losing a little of that driver-car-team identity because every day it’s a different cover on the book. We’re gonna have to figure out a way to better connect the fan with the car." Meanwhile, Penske said of NASCAR possibly holding a Sprint Cup race in Montreal, “There’s so many Cup races today, I’m not sure we need another one anywhere. At the moment, we need to give to the promoters who have committed their time and money to build the tracks we have here." IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard has offered a $5M bonus for non-IndyCar drivers who win the season finale in Las Vegas. Penske is “in favor of the series trying new concepts to attract fans,” but he “wouldn’t go so far as to commit to this particular idea.” Penske: “The issue is with a team that’s competing to win the championship. I’d much rather win the championship than the $5 million. … I think there are other things we could do along the way to create more buzz. Some people may want to do it, and that’s fine. We have not committed to fielding another car” (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/5).