INDIANAPOLIS — A new era in the history of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway officially began on Monday, as the ownership of the iconic facility prepares to change for just the third time in its century-long history.
Penske Entertainment Corp., a subsidiary of the Roger Penske-owned Penske Corp., has reached an agreement with the board of directors of Hulman & Co. to purchase the company and several of its subsidiaries — including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NTT IndyCar Series and IMS Productions.
Collectively, the deal consists of all of the principal operating assets of Hulman & Co.
The final transaction is expected to close in January, prior to the start of North American racing season, following the receipt of applicable government approvals and other standard conditions.
No selling price was announced, as both Penske Corp. and Hulman & Co. are privately-owned.
Monday’s announcement ensures a healthy future for IMS and Indy car racing, as Penske and his staff begin to steward the sport and the race venue forward for new generations of fans.
“Our process took us to a point where we, as a family, all agreed that we needed to have a conversation with Roger Penske. I approached him at the last race of the season (at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca), not wanting to distract from the task at hand of bringing home another championship, but I wanted to wish him well on the grid and I said, ‘I’d like to meet with you and talk about stewardship,’” said Tony George, representing the Hulman-George family and IMS ownership.
“At that point he got a very serious look on his face, but followed up after he clinched his championship with an email and then another email the next morning, and we set it up. I invited Mark to join us for that meeting, and kudos to both organizations who worked very closely together very quickly,” George continued. “It was not easy by any means, but this isn’t Roger’s first rodeo. They were able to execute around diligence very quickly, and it led to an announcement that miraculously — not many things are kept under wraps around here – but this was fairly well contained until this morning.
“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the centerpiece and the cathedral of motorsports since 1909 and the Hulman-George family has proudly served as the steward of this great institution for more than 70 years. Now, we are honored to pass the torch to Roger Penske and Penske Corp., as they become just the fourth owner of the iconic speedway. There is no one more capable and qualified than Roger and his team to lead Indy car racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway into the future.”
Penske, who is 82 years old, fielded three full-time NTT IndyCar Series teams this season and is an 18-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 as a car owner, most recently in May with Frenchman Simon Pagenaud. He also boasts 14 Indy car titles across multiple sanctions, including this year’s Astor Cup with driver Josef Newgarden.
Penske Corp. boasts a long history in the motorsports management field, which goes back to the company’s acquisition of Michigan Int’l Speedway in 1973. Penske’s business has also operated the Grand Prix of Cleveland, Nazareth Speedway and California Speedway over the years.
The Detroit Grand Prix NTT IndyCar Series event, hosted annually at Belle Isle Park, is also promoted and operated by Penske Corp. The Hulman & Co. acquisition will add the IndyCar Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 to that portfolio.
“For me, I wind back to 1951, when my dad brought me here when I was 14 years old. At that point was when the bug of motor racing got in my blood, said Penske. “To think about what this place and this series have meant to our company and the brand that we’ve been able to build — it’s interesting. I talked to Mario Andretti today and A.J. Foyt, and we all agreed what the Indianapolis 500 has meant to us as individuals and for our companies.
“I think that what this really says is that in the United States of America, if you work hard and you’re committed and you have a great group of people, you get great success. So today I hope my dad’s looking down at me and looking at this group and saying, ‘Son, you did a good job,’” Penske added. “I’ve got a big commitment here to take over certainly as the steward of this great organization and what’s been done here in the past for so many decades. It’s my commitment to the Hulman family. The fact that they would select us is an opportunity to take on this investment, it’s amazing.
“I just want to thank Tony (George), Hulman & Co. and everyone else that’s been involved in this and it will be an honor for Penske Corp. to help lead these great institutions forward into a new era.”
Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Co., was also in attendance at Monday’s press conference.
“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,” noted Miles. “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 capitalize on the momentum that the Series and the Speedway have achieved.”
Hulman & Co.’s financial adviser was Allen & Co. LLC. Its counsel was Ice Miller LLP.