22nd September, 2015 · Motorsport

Australian Motorsport – The Winner

4 minutes to read

A mutual friend connected me with Roger Penske during the time he and his President of Racing, Tim Cindric were evaluating participation in our Australian V8 Supercar Series.  After a few overseas calls, I found myself soon after attending a dinner meeting in Brisbane with Roger, Tim and the President of the Penske Australian and NZ operations Randall Seymore.

That was in June last year and approximately 60 days later we had agreed to me undertaking a role with the Penske business interests in Australia.  This was dependent upon Team Penske making a decision to take a majority shareholding in the Queensland based DJR Team, which ultimately occurred and would then, be renamed DJR Team Penske with the new team making its debut at the Adelaide Clipsal Race.

I came away from that 3 hour dinner Meeting, which essentially centred around a broad ranging chat on all aspects of Australian Motor Sport, Teams and Drivers and recent Australian automotive trends with a lasting impression that these gentlemen were quite different.

They were measured; they were refined, with a calm professionalism and remarkable modesty given the achievements and successes of Roger Penske and his businesses. Their conversations always seemed to reflect a strategic longer term view on all things business.

Just over a year on working under the Penske brand and after many overseas conference calls and meetings with their local and visiting executives including those at my first dinner, my initial impressions have not moved a fraction.
In fact my admiration for the manner in which Roger Penske and his Leadership team conduct their business moves into the realm of a career highlight during my long connection to Australian Motor Sport.

Just a few simple examples of the style they display in all their Race Team business dealings, both internally with staff and externally with business partners – not on one occasion have I heard one coarse or vulgar word or expression uttered by a Penske Executive nor have I ever heard one piece of industry gossip or bad word spoken about another Team driver or another competitor.

2016 sees Roger Penske record his 50th year of involvement in Motor Sport and the enterprises that have been developed around their Motor Sport DNA.  Whilst my involvement in the Penske Group on an Advisory role in the past year is minuscule, it was not hard to quickly understand why this Gentleman whom Chairs and actively operates this huge Automotive and Motor Sport Enterprise has been so successful over 50 years.

Here is a snapshot of the thriving businesses Roger Penske has built and in so doing is today responsible for globally creating employment for 50,000 people.  The Penske brochures modestly summarise their global business as being “a Leading Brand in Transportation Services”.  They have sales of US $23 billion and operate out of 3300 locations in America, England, Germany, Italy, Australia and NZ.  The Automotive Group operate 350 retail dealerships covering 41 brands and the Transportation Group have over 200,000 Penske branded trucks on the roads of America.

In Australia and NZ the Penske footprint includes The Distributorship for Western Star Trucks, MAN Trucks and Dennis Eagle with Head Office located in Wacol, Brisbane and a Dealer Organization throughout every State.  Significant new facilities for each of the Brands are at advanced stage of construction in Brisbane and Auckland.  In October 2014 Penske acquired the Detroit Diesel Allison – MTU businesses, headquartered in Altona, Victoria and rebranded Penske Power Systems where they operate in Construction, Defence, Marine, Mining, Rail and Power generation.

During a recent Roger Penske visit to Australia, his huge commitment to his customers and staff was abundantly obvious.

Wasting no time, his busy schedule involved visitations to his facilities and also those of his customers.  This interest and personal touch would no doubt explain why the average tenure of Penske Race Teams business partners / sponsors is 13 years which must be some record in the Sport.

Completing this article the day after the 2015 Sandown 500 race, which is the first of the Enduro Series program, there was, for me, another stand out feature of the way Penske operates its race program. The clean and pure design of its livery and presentation of its sponsors brand on its cars driver suits. The example of the XBOX livery, in a ‘less is more’ policy, is the result of exacting standards and precise attention to detail in the presentation of business partners brands.

xbox

I am sure the impact of Roger Penske’s USA operations deciding to enter the Australian Motor Sport scene has not yet been fully realised. No doubt, come the end of 2016 the example Team Penske set in our Series will ensure Australian Motor Sport will be the Winner .

Despite Team Penske’s remarkable achievements noted below in Motorsport I have never witnessed the slightest sign of swagger, gloat or crow.
•  400 plus major race wins
•  470 plus pole positions
•  27 national championships
•  16 Indianapolis wins
•  2 Daytona wins

When will Bathurst be added to the list?

 
Fast Facts on Bathurst
The 55th running of Australia’s Premier Motor Sport event is set down for October 8-11, 2015. Otherwise referred to as “The Great Race”.

Circuit Length: 6.213 kms
Highest Point: 862 meters above sea level
Grades: of up to 1 in 6.13
First Held: 1960
Distance: 161 laps and 1,000 km
Average Lap Speed: 178 km and top speed of 298 km down Conrod Straight
Fuel Usage: 4.6 litres per lap 75/100
Biggest Crowd: In 2006 (the year Peter Brock died) 193,647
Winningest Driver: Peter Brock 9 times Bathurst Champion
Danger Factor: 3 drivers have been killed in the Bathurst race:
– Mike Burgmann    1986
– Denny Hulme    1992
– Don Watson    1994
– In total 15 drivers have been killed on the circuit.
Television 3.45 Million Australians watch all or part of the marathon 10 hour.
Telecast. 2 out or every 3 Australians in each key demographic watch Bathurst on the Saturday and Sunday.

John Crennan
Motorsport Contributor