• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

PENSKE WOULDN'T BID for IMS

Many people have asked me to write about the reaction I received to my "Untenable" posting of Oct. 26. I appreciate it. I've avoided doing so because I believe that blog speaks for itself and, given the sensitive and difficult nature of the subject matter, I have not seen a reason to keep after it.

So, allow me to leave it this way: Without any question, "Untenable" produced more response than anything I've ever written. (For the record, that goes back to the late 1960s.) As expected, some elements of the chatroom crowd personally attacked me, and posted anonymous (of course) FALSE "facts" about my career and supposed IRL vs. CART political leanings. Far more importantly to me, however, were the truly amazing comments and insights provided by some of the most significant players in the Business of Racing industry -- including very well-known participants from within the IndyCar series. Not one of these Big Names -- not one -- said they disagreed with a single word. One described the IC series as being "derailed" and "not sure if it can be put back on its tracks." Another told me, "Even you don't know how bad it is."

Oh -- these thoughts came from people routinely praised by chatroomers.

As I explained back then, I carefully considered every word -- "Untenable" was chosen with great care for literal accuracy -- and I will say here I continue to stand by every word.

Now, here's a follow-up: Straight reporting as done by me Sunday, Nov. 13 before the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway. After Sam Hornish Jr.'s Nationwide series win the day before, I asked Roger Penske to give me some one-on-one interview time the next morning. Following the mandatory pre-race driver/crew chief meeting, Penske invited me into his motorcoach, and we sat down in his private meeting area in the back.

Since I had listed Penske as a possible bidder for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway if the Hulman-George family put it up for sale, I asked Roger point-blank if he would do so. I reminded him that, way back in my Philadelphia newspaper days, Penske had been quoted as saying he'd like to make an offer should such an opportunity present itself. And, of course, Penske once did have a racetrack business as part of his overall enterprises, including Michigan International Speedway, California Speedway and Nazareth Speedway. Here is Penske's answer to my question about IMS:

"No -- we're out of the racetrack business. I've got so much commitment to my own businesses. It's not something that I would be interested in. It's going to take a big number (price) and someone who's in the entertainment business would be better off with that type of an asset."


Anything -- ANYTHING -- Dave Argabright writes is worth reading. I oh-so-miss his "American Scene" column in the now-gone print edition of National Speed Sport News. I've just gotten Dave's latest book, Sprint Car Salvation, which is something different from him. It's based on 1970s USAC sprint car racing from a fictional serial that was in Sprint Car & Midget Magazine about a half-dozen years ago. I plan to get started on this later this week but for more information on the 240-pager ($24.95) go to http://AmericanScenePress.com .



I'll be in Las Vegas for the concluding events of NASCAR's Champions Week, including the NMPA Myers Brothers award luncheon, media activities, and Friday night's Sprint Cup awards banquet. Please come back here next Monday for some news and observations . . .