Everything Roger Penske touches turns to green, more or less. Or gold. Or silver—the color of the 18 Borg-Warner trophies he’s won and the surgical instruments that are emblematic of how he runs all his operations. The point is that “The Captain” is the Captain for a reason … and not because he’s a dimwitted dope of some sort who’s in the business of losing money, races, Supreme Court Justices and so forth and so on.
“Penske Perfect” is the term that has been bandied about the paddock for decades now, and I have seen it firsthand. It is alarming in its precision. The Penske garages, for example, look like goddamn operating rooms, all sterile and perfectly, mesmerizingly—almost impossibly—organized and shiny, ruthlessly well-oiled environments designed for maximum success. Most other garages look like the Weird Science house the morning after Gary and Wyatt’s party, with muddy motorcycles and missiles and bodies strewn about haphazardly. Those other garages don’t win races very often.
So when the stunning news broke this week of Penske straight-up buying IMS and the Series as a whole, the IndyCar community had the same distinct feeling: that everything will be done aggressively right moving forward. They will be done perfectly, so to speak. Penske-perfectly.
That does not mean that we in the DadBall community will not weigh in with our own opinions on the matter, because we most certainly ARE. We have our own demands for what needs changed and, more importantly, what doesn’t.
- An in-track sports book. Holy hell can you imagine that place on Race Day?!? Remove one of those stupid golf holes on the back straightaway taking up valuable real estate and build a tasteful, refined Mandalay Bay-like oasis of poor decisions and worse bets and proper Old Fashioneds. It would rake in $9.2 trillion, give or take. We are mostly broke and broken come Race Day anyway, it would be fun to go down swinging on a terrible Rahal-Chilton-Kimball midrace trifecta that will certainly not hit.
- Fix the Race Day traffic. It is unclear how this can be done, frankly. But this is Roger Penske’s place now, and traffic causes delays … delays lead to imperfections. Any sort of imperfection will not stand in Penske’s spotless world. We are demanding he make 30th Street a 48-lane highway and turn all of Crawfordsville Road into a Japanese bullet train. This does not seem unreasonable.
- A well-known, top-shelf brand for the IndyCar Series sponsor. Not Pep Boys. Not Izod. Not Big-K Soda or McDowell’s Restaurant or any other sixth-tier knockoffs. Not TNT Fax Machines or whatever it is now. Perception is tearing away at reality here, and the reality is this: IndyCar racing is, pound-for-pound, the best auto racing in the world. The “Manny’s Pool Supply IndyCar Series” takes away from that fact dramatically. Penske needs to call in a favor or two and purchase Rolex or Apple or what have you and start the re-branding process. The Air Jordan IndyCar Series™ has a nice ring to it.
NO CHANGE NECESSARY
- Coolers at IMS. The mere concept of allowing spectators to bring in our own ham sandwiches and jugs of cognac runs afoul of capitalism, common sense, and the general laws of American spectator sports. And yet it works, Mr. Penske. It is perfect already. DO NOT MESS WITH OUR COOLERS, GOOD SIR. Make up the concession money you’re losing via the new sports book, because you’ll have to pry the coolers out of our clammy, comatose, sun-stroked hands.
- No corporate sponsor for the track or the 500. Churches do not have corporate sponsors for a reason. It is bad form. Keep it pure.
- The terrible, no-good, psyche-shattering pee troughs. This will likely be a hotly debated subject around these parts, but not among the wisest and most grizzled of us old people. I am in the camp of keeping them as they are, gross unpleasantness and all. They are a part of our heritage now. They are our Right of Passage. They take the most gun-shy lads among us and turn them COCKSURE urinal warriors and civic leaders and titans of industry. (Or the troughs break them emotionally and psychologically, forever, there is no middle ground.)
- Race Day-Chic attire. This will stick in Penske’s craw the most, I am sure of it. He is inclined to institute a dress code of some kind for Race Day. A fancy one at that. This is because Penske demands those around him don perfectly pressed black slacks and crisp white linen button-downs, not—and I repeat NOT—a Philadelphia Flyers codpiece and a pair of Keystone Light boots and nothing else. But dressing like greasy morons is our Tradition now. One of many. Leading to …
- Keeping the Traditions alive. All of them. Even the stupid ones. Especially the stupid ones. (Except the balloons … those can go to hell.) There are thousands upon thousands of such things that cannot be micromanaged or otherwise fashioned into a more efficient experience. That experience is what defines the 500 for each of us, and it is the one thing Penske cannot perfect – and should not even try.