Roger Penske is forever linked with the late Mark Donohue, who in 1972 delivered the first of team owner Penske’s now-record 16 Indianapolis 500 wins.
It was a natural for fellow Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Bobby Rahal to ask Penske to serve as honorary chairman of the newly formed Mark Donohue Foundation, a nonprofit formed by the Road Racing Drivers Club of which Rahal is president. When formally named to the position today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Penske took a more active than honorary role, committing to a $100,000 donation to the foundation that will initially support the RRDC’s SAFEisFast initiative of producing free tutorial videos for aspiring young racers.
Donohue, a three-time Trans-Am champion and 1973 Can-Am champ, was an early RRDC president whose engineering mind was ahead of its time in terms of driver safety. He died from injuries sustained in a Formula One crash at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix.
“Mark was a partner of mine and someone who was dedicated to the sport," said Penske. “When we talk about technology, I think he's looking down today and saying, ‘I told you guys.’
“So when you think about all the things we're doing with telemetry, the Internet and things that make our sport at the upper level of competition and certainly technology and the ability to have SAFEisFast and have the opportunity for us to continue this foundation under a 501(c)(3), … it's amazing. We'd like to leave an imprint ourselves and we do that with our arms around Mark in this particular situation. It's very important to me and our team."
Rahal added that the foundation will carry on the legacy of Donohue, whose son, David, also attended the announcement.
"The engineering concepts for which (Mark Donohue) was famous have become the basis of much of today's technology," Rahal said. “We need to help secure the future for this program. The foundation was formed to raise money to honor Mark's legacy of driver education and safety, and to help make sure that the lessons, technology and skills learned by the best and brightest in racing are available to everyone." IndyCar