Unless you have been living in a cave, you're well aware of Roger Penske and his reputation in the automotive community.
I first got to know Roger when he opened his newest dealership in Detroit decades ago and shortly thereafter he won his first of many Indianapolis 500 races — and the only one with the late Mark Donohue driving. He would be the first to acknowledge the efforts of everyone on his team in winning, but they still called him the "Captain" for a good reason. He has always been in charge.
My sense is that he really burst on the scene — beyond the racing and auto-retail spheres — when he was asked to lead the Super Bowl host committee in Detroit and by all accounts did a remarkable job. It does not seem to matter what race he is involved with, his team wins. This year, his racing accomplishments have been nothing short of spectacular, winning just about every motorsports series imaginable.
And to top it all off, he was recently awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award, in a ceremony at the White House — an honor with all of his family present.
To most, it would seem to be the culmination of a lifetime. But I have no doubt that it is just a pause and he will continue to be engaged with competing in motorsports and winning for the foreseeable future. And he will continue to give most of the credit to his teams for their success. It is very nice for him to say it, but no one believes it. He is and will be the driving force for his success on and off the racetrack.
It does not seem to matter whether he is on the racetrack or in the boardroom. He has grown his dealerships to a global group that's among the biggest in the world. And they just keep growing. He has kept his association with the automotive industry all his life, and whether it is retailing or making sure his race cars are competing and winning on tracks in all four corners of the world, his passion for everything dealing with cars is without peer.
He has been a truly unique human being, and for the half-century I have known him it has been a pleasure to watch him operate. As he has often said, "There is still plenty of runway left." I have no doubt he will be a leader for a very long time in the future. He still has plenty of mountains to climb and races to win. And plenty of Indianapolis 500 victories to celebrate.