Racing and the Indianapolis speedway are special to Penske. He first attended the Indy 500 at age 14 with his father. That year, in 1951, Penske was able to sit in a show car and have his picture taken.
The race ignited a passion for the sport as he took to driving. In 1961, Sports Illustrated named Penske the Sports Car Club of America's Driver of the Year.
His time behind the wheel was short-lived, though. By the mid-1960s, when he was asked to take a driver's test to race in the Indy 500, he had to pass because he was working as a Chevrolet dealership in Philadelphia. But he didn't shy away from the sport.
As a race team owner, Penske entered his first car in an Indy 500 in 1969. Four years later, he won his first Indy with driver Mark Donohue. His drivers have continued to rack up history-making Indy wins.
"The record speaks for itself. We've won it 18 times now since our first race in '69," Penske said. "So we've had a great run there."
The Captain, as he's known, said racing remains his passion and is woven throughout Penske Corp. His business empire, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., includes some 56,000 employees and a number of transportation-related and motorsports racing companies. Part of Penske's conglomerate is publicly traded Penske Automotive Group Inc., ranked by Automotive News as the second-largest dealership group in the U.S. based on 2020 new-vehicle sales.
In 2019, President Donald Trump awarded Penske the nation's top civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.