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No plans for F1, but Penske eyes test trackUPDATE #2 Roger Penske appears ready to raise the stakes in the NASCAR poker game by building his own test track, according to NASCAR sources. Penske’s track, of uncertain size, would likely be on Mooresville land near his race shop.
Rival car owner Jack Roush once planned to build a test track of his own near Charlotte, but he ran into county political issues and gave up that project.
A Penske track would take testing to the next level. And presumably Penske would be leasing track testing time to rival teams. Winston-Salem Journal
01/31/07 "We haven't said how big it is, but it will be bigger than a half mile," Roger Penske explained. "We're not going into the track business; this would be a testing facility. We're looking to utilize the facility that we have here. We have the acreage here.
"We would be able to try some things here and we wouldn't need to go to other tracks. Travel today is expensive. This past year we probably spent a million and a half dollars just in testing from the standpoint of the track rentals and the transportation getting back and forth. This could be a real advantage for us.
"We have the land at no cost," he continued. "It is a matter of putting the asphalt down. Depending on the grade and all, and we would put up soft walls, and we'd like to have the capability like at the Ferrari test track to be able to pull a car into a shed that has all the engineering capabilities. We haven't estimated the costs yet, but when you think about paving a highway, we are basically going to pave a highway on our own property."
01/25/07 Roger Penske spoke last night at a media gathering at Penske Racing South and had these key remarks, including the hint he will build a test track outside the shop, considered the Taj Mahal of USA race shops:
OPENING REMARKS “Motorsports is a big business today, and I think you have to maximize all of your resources. We did that when we were in the speedway business. We certainly had the chance to partner with Bruton and obviously Speedway Motorsports. Today I think it’s about technology transfer. We hope with the amalgamation of all of our teams here at this shop in Mooresville (N.C.) we’ll be able to see the technology transferred from NASCAR to Busch and Indy car. When you look at a NASCAR car and you put a decal on it for the headlights and a couple of other things that make it a car, but underneath that body there’s a lot of work today. I think the real key to all racing teams’ successes when we moved into North Carolina we saw Hendrick, Roush, Ganassi and many other people who have been so successful. The Wood Brothers, Leonard and those folks have been my friends forever. We wanted to come here also and take advantage of a great work force and have the opportunity to go racing. We really have a great team of drivers. When I think back Ryan (Newman), that new point system would have been pretty good for us a couple of years ago. Rusty would say the same thing if he were here tonight.
“I look at the 2007 season and we’re going to compete in 90 races with 159 entries, obviously expanded schedules with our IndyCar Series and American LeMans Series. Sam (Hornish) will be competing in a broader program. He’ll be competing in some Busch Races. He had an opportunity to find out what it was all about last year. We cut it short and sweet, but that’s how it starts. I’m sure Kurt knows what that’s like. Helio (Castroneves) is going to compete at Sebring, and we’re going to be busier than ever. I think it’s important when we think about the ability to build a shop like this and bring great people in it’s because of our great sponsor teams. Longevity is certainly a key for us as we go forward. We’ve got to make commitment to our drivers and other people on our team, and we can’t do that is you don’t even have a sponsor at the end of the year and you’re looking at January and February going to the first race.”
COMMENT ON COT “I’ve said it to a number of people. I think what it’s going to do is it’s going to take some cost out. Obviously there’s a cost of developing. We were able to test that car for three or four days at a short track, take the car to Daytona and run 191 mph). When NASCAR gets the rules just right, we’re going to see a safer car and one that we can take to multiple types of circuits. You walk around and see the cars we have, hopefully we can reduce that by 50 percent. The good news is we’re supporting it (COT) and I like the conversation about the car. We’re in the game, and we think it will run a lot of people closer together.”
DO YOU SEE A FORMULA ONE START IN YOUR FUTURE? “I don’t think you’ll see Penske Racing, in this decade, in Formula One. You never know though, but I doubt it very much.”
COMMENT ON NEW POINTS SYSTEM “Taking the 400 point cap off doesn’t make a lot of difference, but the fact they’re going to have 12 competing will make it better and also for our sponsors. When you’re not in it, it puts a dampener on some of the things you might be doing with your sponsor. On the other hand, it gave us a chance to try some things. Mike Nelson had a chance to crew chief a couple of the races. We use it as a proving ground if you’re not in it, but I think the change is very good and I take my hat off to Brian (France) for making a few course corrections and not overhauling the system.”
COMMENT ON BUILDING A TEST TRACK “Our goal here is to take the roughly 70 acres out back and we build a test track. We’re in an exploratory stage today. I’d like to see an oval with a big skid pad, also a road course would be intermingled within the oval side. I think the cost we have to go to tests and the fact we can use this for customer entertainment, for our sponsors, maybe police academies. It’s like when we built the wind tunnel people said no one would use it. I can tell you it’s being used every day. I think this is an opportunity for us to extend our commercial relationship within the sport. We really haven’t said how big it is, but it’ll be bigger than a half mile. Let’s put it that way. Maybe we could build a Bristol here, but I don’t have enough room for the stands. I’m not going into the track business. Don’t get the wrong idea. This will be a test facility.”
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