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Penske looking to grow IMS, IndyCar with acquisition

IMS sale press conference

IMS sale press conference

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The chairman of Indianapolis-based Hulman & Co. says the decision to sell the company is “bittersweet, but very exciting.” The company’s board of directors announced Monday plans to sell Hulman & Co. and its subsidiaries, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series, and IMS Productions, to Penske Entertainment Corp. Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed.

At a news conference at IMS, Tony George said the proposed new owner is “ideally suited” to take over. “(Penske is) a corporation that is family-involved much like ours but with a track record that is really without compare,” said George.

Hulman & Co. acquired the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945. Penske will become the fourth owner of the famed race track and founder Roger Penske says he sees a great opportunity to grow IMS even further.

“We look around this 1,000 acres and we say, ‘Can this be not only the racing capital of the world, but an entertainment capital of the world in Indiana and be able to support the state, the governor, the region, the city, the town of Speedway and continue to grow it?’” said Penske. “So we’re going to invest capital. We know the economic benefit today that this race brings to the region is amazing and we want to grow that. It’s important to us.”

Penske says he plans to step down from being a race strategist for Team Penske, which has won 18 Indianapolis 500 races over the years. He says his goal now is to find out how to build the IndyCar Series to the next level and continue the growth of IMS.

“This business is not broken; this is a great business and the leadership team that’s been here has done an outstanding job and what we want to do is be a support tool,” said Penske.

Penske Entertainment Corp. is a subsidiary of Michigan-based Penske Corp., which is no stranger to owning and operating major motorsports venues. The company acquired Michigan International Speedway in the early 1970s and currently promotes and operates the Detroit Grand Prix, which runs at the Belle Isle Park street circuit.

Roger Penske says the company has no intention to change the management teams currently in place at Hulman & Co. and its subsidiaries. He says the company will announce a board of directors after closing the acquisition which he hopes will include a “diverse group of people on there that know the business and can support the business.”

Mark Miles, chief executive officer of Hulman & Co., says the announcement has international implications but is incredibly important for Hoosiers. 

“I know (Roger) to be a great corporate citizen; I know their company thinks that way. It’s just their mentality and I think it can only be a really great thing … to have an additional family as a corporate citizen here in central Indiana,” said Miles. “And then, to have the resources and the knowledge and the ability to execute that they do will mean that (IMS) will continue to grow and the series will continue to grow and that can only be a good thing for the city and the state.”

Penske says the acquisition is expected to close in January upon receipt of regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

Governor Eric Holcomb released a statement following the announcement:

The biggest single day sporting event on planet earth is about to get even bigger and better. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with ‘The Captain’ Roger Penske at the helm.

Mr. Penske’s vision, team and high expectations will ensure Indiana’s most iconic asset continues to grow. Along with IndyCar, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway forms the core of an entire racing industry that employs thousands of people and pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy.

As a racing fan, my excitement is only equaled by my appreciation for the longtime Hulman George commitment to the past and future of the sport of racing and to our great state.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett also released a statement:

Today marks the start of a new chapter for the city of Indianapolis, as the torch is passed from the Hulman George family to another leader who shares a passion for the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the legacy of IndyCar.

For decades Hulman & Company has overseen one of Indianapolis’ greatest assets, acting as community partners and stewards of our state’s most prized tradition. Residents across the city and around the globe, all have stories of the wonder of IMS, thanks to the dedication of the Hulman George family.

I know Roger Penske and the Penske Corporation will continue this legacy, acting as ambassadors for Indianapolis and presiding over another century of progress, innovation, and sporting excellence at the world’s greatest racetrack.