Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Racing Milestone - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Racing Milestone

Recently, it came to my attention that Team Penske, owned by motorsports legend and Ohio native Roger Penske, had won its 500th race, an almost unbelievable achievement. All those wins occurred over the last 52 years, starting in 1966, the year I graduated from high school. Back then and still today, I enjoy auto racing. This previous blogpost describes the fun we had at Eldora and Shady Bowl racetracks.

In 1965, Roger retired as a successful race car driver to purchase a Pennsylvania auto dealership. Team Penske was formed to provide advertising for his new dealership, eventually growing to compete in an amazing variety of racing disciplines like Indy Cars, NASCAR, IMSA, Formula One, CanAm and SCCA.

Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have not only produced those 500 major race wins, but also earned 573 pole positions and 32 championships. The team has won 17 Indianapolis 500 victories (most recently in 2018), two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win and overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Roger and his wife Kathy have a son, Jay, who was a classmate of our son in the same high school. They both played on their school's 1997 state championship lacrosse team pictured below. Our son is #1 and Jay #7, side-by-side in the first row.

After the championship game, the Penske’s invited the team and parents to their home for a victory party. It was quite an affair, highlighted by a tour of Roger’s library where he kept some of his racing memorabilia. I distinctly recall the mantel over the fireplace where many of his championship rings were displayed. Each one looked like a Super Bowl ring. Amazing!

A favorite photo below shows Roger, his wife Kathy and Roger’s right-hand man and my golfing buddy, Walt Czarnecki on the far right, from 2012 when Brad Kezelowski won Team Penske’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Coincidently, it was Keselowski’s recent win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that got Team Penske to the 500 win milestone.

While we’re on the subject of racing, recently my fraternity brothers from college gathered for our semi-annual luncheon, coupled with some sort of competitive activity. This time it was go cart racing. This short video was taken of the race - that’s me in the lead - for a while!

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