Did your decade end Dec. 31, 2019, same as ours? Or are you one of the hold-outs who say it’s the last day of 2020? Either way, with Roger Penske adding stewardship of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NTT IndyCar Series to a formidable and ridiculously-successful portfolio of race teams, we hope you agree that “The Captain” is a worthy recipient of our Racer of the Decade.
Other contenders? You could certainly make a case for Lewis Hamilton, who earned five of his six Formula 1 titles in the decade just gone and pulled auto racing outside of its insular bubble by daring to be himself.
What settled us on Penske is his growing footprint in the world beyond his race teams. It’s not only what he does, but how he does it. He understands the bigger picture, leads by example, and respects and nurtures the sport he’s been immersed in for six decades, first and fleetingly as a driver and then as a team owner.
Penske didn’t have to purchase The Brickyard, but he gets that the motorsports ecosystem is a complex and delicate one, where nothing survives in isolation. You can have the greatest race team in the world, but it has to have a platform to compete on. As Robin Miller notes, applying the principles of Penske perfection to the world’s most famous race track and the series that serves it should strengthen that platform in ways that benefit everyone, fans included.
Fans of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship have had it good over recent seasons. The merger of top-tier North American sports car racing in 2014 was the catalyst for a new golden age and, despite saying goodbye to Ford’s GT Le Mans program and losing a couple of the Cadillac fleet in the headlining DPi class, it looks set to be another incredibly close contest across all four classes.
Check out the 2020 IMSA storylines, including Chevrolet’s switch to the mid-engine Corvette C8.R in GT Le Mans and a near-miraculous reboot and rebirth of the LMP2 class.
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