Roger Penske and his 600 racing victories

By Norris McDonald Wheels.ca

Apr 2, 2022 4 min. read

Article was updated 2 months ago

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The first time I read an in-depth story about the man who was to become my hero, Roger Penske, I was flying from Toronto to Indianapolis via Detroit in the 1990s. We were on a Northwest Airlines flight (I’ve always loved that defunct airline because of the movie “North by Northwest,” which is one of my two or three favourites) but there was something wrong with the plane.

After a while sitting on the runway at Pearson International Airport, the pilot told us that we weren’t going anywhere, and we had to make alternative arrangements.

A fellow named Jack Cooke, who was a champion racer at Pinecrest Speedway in Vaughan and who worked for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, nodded at me. “Stay with me,” he said. We knew each other so he tried to book two seats via Chicago – but to no luck. I managed to get us on a Sabina World Airlines flight instead

Cooke and I boarded the plane, taxied out to the runway and realize that we were the only two people on the flight. I’m serious. This was a jumbo jet that had just delivered a bunch of people to Detroit, and it would be making a stop in Indianapolis before heading on to Los Angeles.

We were on the plane for about 40 minutes and had the time of our lives. The flight attendants served us a filet mignon and a bottle of wine. They offered us a bourbon cocktail. One of them handed me a magazine “Here,” she said. “There’s a good story in here. It’s about a really interesting guy.”

The guy was Roger Penske. He was a driver and owner of racing cars. He was in the automobile business and had just completed the purchase of the Hertz Penske Truck Rental company. His motto was, “Effort equals results,” and I liked that.

He is perhaps best known for founding Team Penske in 1968 and leading the American pro-racing team to be one of the most successful in the history of the sport. Last month it celebrated is 600th win, when driver Josef Newgarden won the NTT IndyCar Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on March 20. It is just one of the records Team Penske has racked up over the decades. Here is a look at some of those impressive numbers.


  • First win: Dick Guldstrand, George Wintersteen and Ben Moore at the Rolex 24 At Daytona race at the Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 6, 1966

  • 50th win: Mark Donohue at the Michigan 200 race at the Michigan International Speedway on July 18, 1971

  • 100th win: Bobby Unser at the Indianapolis 500 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 24, 1981

  • 200th win: Paul Tracy at the Motorola 300 race at the Gateway International Raceway on May 25, 1997

  • 300th win: Ryan Briscoe at the ABC Supply A.J. Foyt 225 race at the Milwaukee Mile on June 1, 2008

  • 400th win: Brad Keselowski at the Federated Auto Parts 400 race at the Richmond Raceway on Sept. 6, 2014

  • 500th win: Brad Keselowski at the South Point 400 race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 16, 2018


Fifty different drivers have won at least one race for Team Penske since 1966. The top five winning are

Brad Keselowski with 67 wins, Mark Donohue with 59, Scott McLaughlin with 49, and Rusty Wallace, Joey Logano and Will Power with 37 wins each.


Team Penske has won races in 14 different global series, with the most wins coming from performances in the IndyCar (224 wins), NASCAR Cup Series (134), NASCAR Xfinity Series (81), Australian V8 Supercars (56) and IMSA (32). The 2010s have so far been its most successful decade, with 231 races won by Team Penske. In the 2000s, it won 111 races, compared to 17 in the 1990s.

The 2020s could very well redefine success for the team. It already has 55 wins this decade, which is just entering its third season. Penske’s chances to earn more trips down Victory Lane will increase in 2023 when it resumes sports car competition with a Porsche LMDh prototype.

When it comes to Team Penske, it seems effort does equal some impressive results.

Norris McDonald is a former Star editor who is a current freelance columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @norrismcdonald2