Penske Racing Museum – Scottsdale, AZ (USA)

Team Penske, formerly known as Penske Racing, is an American professional auto racing organization, competing in the NTT IndyCar Series, NASCAR Cup Series, and the FIA World Endurance Championship. Debuting at the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona, the organization has also competed in various other types of professional racing such as Formula One, Can-Am, Trans Am, IMSA and Australian Supercars. Altogether, Team Penske has earned over 500 victories and over 40 championships in all of auto racing. Team Penske is a division of Penske Corporation, and is owned and chaired by Roger Penske. With such a rich history from over 50 years of racing, the company has an extensive collection of historic race cars and memorabilia, so it is no surprise that they have a museum in which some of the items are displayed. It can be found as the centrepiece of a long row of new car showrooms at Penske’s site just off the Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. What;s even better is that entry is free. I visit this site almost every time I am in the Phoenix area, but realised that it is a long time since I actually took photos of the displays and created a report, which is something of an oversight given how frequently the displays are changed. The museum is not that large, with space for not much more than a dozen cars on the ground floor, whilst upstairs there are displays of memorabilia and there’s a cafe. Here is what was on show at the time of my December 2021 visit.

The Penske name has been associated with automobile racing for forty years. In 1958, Roger Penske raced his first official race in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National at Marlboro Motor Raceway in Maryland. He was running in second place until his car overheated and he had to drop out of the race. The next year, Penske won his first race at the SCCA Regional at Lime Rock, Connecticut, driving an F-Modified Porsche RS. Penske’s fame shot up like a skyrocket. In 1961, Penske won the SCCA National D Modified Championship and was named SCCA Driver of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. The next year he was named the New York Times Driver of the Year, with winnings totaling $34,350. In 1963, Penske won his first NASCAR Grand National series race. In 1964, he took the checkered flag at five races driving a Chaparral Corvette GS. In 1965, Roger Penske announced his retirement as a race car driver and purchased a Chevrolet dealership in Philadelphia. The next year Penske moved into race car ownership, launching Penske Racing and Team Penske. In 1967, in just its second year of competition, Penske Racing won the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) with driver Mark Donohue behind the wheel of a Lola T70 MKIII chassis with a Chevrolet power plant.

This 1963 Pontiac Catalina is a very significant car is as it is the one which Roger Penske raced and won at the Riverside 250 at the now defunct Riverside track in California.

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Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Penske race cars won one race after another. Retired chief engine builder Karl Kainhofer considered 1968 the most successful season in Penske Racing history when they won ten of thirteen Trans-Am races en-route to the SCCA Trans-Am Series Championship. The same year, the team won the USRRC points championship. This car, a Lola T-152, was the first entered in the Indy 500 by Roger Penske, one of the rare 4 wheel drive cars to run at the “500”.. It was driven by Mark Donohue. Donohue had a good start having qualified fourth and was running third with about 20 laps to go when a lengthy pit stop dropped him back to seventh at the end of the race. He was named “Rookie of the Year”.

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That same year Donohue won six of twelve races he competed in, to earn Penske Racing its second SCCA Trans-Am Championship in as many years, in a Chevrolet Camaro. Mark Donahue continued to win races and trophies for the Penske organization for the next six years, including their first Champ Car victory at the Pocono 500 on in 1971, the SCCA Trans-Am Championship, and their first Indianapolis 500 win, in 1972. In 1973, Donohue, driving the #16 AMC Matador, won Team Penske their first NASCAR race at Riverside, California, in the Winston Western 500. Donohue finished out the year by winning the SCCA Can-Am Championship.

This 1972 McLaren M16B, driven by Mark Donohue, was the winner of the 1972 Indy 500, and was the Penske Racing’s first victory at the event. the Drake Offenhauser engine in this car put out 850 bhp at 9000 rpm. Not bad for 1972!

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This 1974 Penske PC-1 Formula 1 car is the first car designed and manufactured by Penske Racing themselves. It was driven by Mark Donohue in 1974 and 1975 and John Watson in 1975.

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The Penske racing family experienced tragedy in 1975 when hard-charging race car driver Mark Donohue was killed in a crash while practicing for the Austrian Grand Prix Formula One race.The same year they lost Mark Donohue, Bobby Allison joined the Penske team and won at Darlington. In 1976, Penske Racing competed in the Austrian Grand Prix Formula One race, and driver John Watson, in a PC4-Ford powered machine, claimed the first and only Formula One victory for Penske Racing.The 1977 Penske PC-5, seen here, was the first Penske designed chassis to compete at Indianapolis that was designed by Penske. During time trials on May 14th 1977, Penske driver Tom Sneva, in a Penske PC-5 powered by a Ford Cosworth DFX V8, became the first driver to officially break the 200 mph barrier at the speedway, setting a new one-lap track record of 200.535 mph on his second qualifying lap, and a four-lap track record of 198.884 mph to secure Pole Position.

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In 1979, driver Rick Mears had a record-breaking year with Team Penske. Mears won the pole position at every oval track all season. He won the prestigious Indianapolis 500 for the second time in Team Penske’s career, on the way to becoming the third consecutive national points championship for the team in as many years.

The next two decades were just as successful for Team Penske. In 1981, and again in 1984, Penske drivers won the Indianapolis 500. In 1985, Team Penske driver Danny Sullivan won the Indianapolis 500 for the team in history-making style in a Penske March 85C. Halfway through the race, Sullivan spun the car around and managed to regain control. He went into the pit for four fresh tires and fuel, restarted the race on the tail end of the lead lap, and went on to win the race.

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After wrecking their car in a crash while qualifying for the 71st Indianapolis 500 in 1987, the team took a year-old March chassis that was on display in a Reading, Pennsylvania hotel lobby back to the shop to prepare it as a replacement. Al Unser qualified the car in the field in 20th position and after race leader Mario Andretti slowed with mechanical problems late in the race, Unser went on to take the lead with only 18 laps to go, scoring the team’s sixth victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Penske drivers won the prestigious Indianapolis 500 race again in 1988, 1991, 1993, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2006. During that time period, Team Penske also won numerous CART, NASCAR races, and championships, and set a number of automobile racing records. It was with this car that Penske scored their 100th Indy Car win in 2000 at the Nazareth, PA Circuit. It is a Honda-engined Reynard 2K1, driven by Gil De Ferran.


Dating from 2017 is this Dallara W12 Verizon Indy Car which was driven by Josef Newgarden

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This Penske entry won the race in 2018 with Will Power as the driver – the 17th Indy 500 win for Penske.


This Ford Fusion, as driven by Joey Logano, was the 2015 Daytona 500 Winner.

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Also a Ford Fusion – even if it bears very little relation to the road cars of the same name – is this car which was the 2018 NASCAR Brickyard 400 Winner, driven by Brad Kaselowski.

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A suitably adapted road car is chosen every year to be the Pace Car at the Indianapolis 500, and on many occasions, the chosen manufacturer has then offered a limited number of similar cars for sale to the public. Latterly the almost inevitable collection of Corvettes, Camaro and Mustangs have been chosen, but wind the clock back a bit and there has been quite an array of different models and marques chosen. In 1972 the Pace Car was a 1972 Hurst/Olds Cutlass Convertible with a Hurst Performance modified 455 cubic inch W-30 engine built to pre-smog high compression 1970 specs. It was equipped with a TH-400 transmission and a “His and Hers” Hurst Dual Gate shifter, plus a 3.42 rear axle ratio. An all aluminum W-27 differential cover was used for weight and cooling purposes. Mark Donohue was given the car for winning the race that day. About 629 of these cars were built for public consumption of which 130 were convertibles, 220 with sunroofs and the remaining 279 being hardtops. Almost all of these Pace Car replicas had the less powerful L-75 455 engine and 3.23 axle. A W-30 (L-77) could be ordered but only with 1972 specs netting 300HP with only 8.5 compression. All were painted Cameo white and carried unique 3M Firefrost Gold reflective fade out(pin dotted) laser stripes. In addition to this package, special Indy Pace Car decals with festival stickers could be ordered with large H/O stickers adorning the quarter panels.

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For 2018, the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 was chosen to be the Indy Pace Car, making it the 25th Chevrolet to be so selected. The car featured a track performance package and a tall rear spoiler and boasted 755 bhp, allowing it to get to 0-60 in 2.85 seconds and with a top speed of 212 mph.


This 1973 IROC Porsche RSR was driven by Mark Donohue, and by winning 3 of the 4 races, he won the inaugural IROC Championship in that year. The idea of IROC was that all the cars would be identically prepared, so it would really be a case of the drivers competing against each other for honours.

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This Camaro is from the 1979 series and was driven by Mario Andretti

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Although small, this is a fascinating museum, well worth a visit. The displays here remind you hat just as with other sports, motor racing in America is quite different in many ways from the rest of the world, with different race series and some very different looking cars.

More details can be found on the museum’s own website:

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