Penske Racing

Celebrating the Captain's Fleet

August 12, 2023

The year was 1951. The average cost of a new home was $9,000, a new car was $1,500, and a gallon of gas was 19 cents. A 14-year-old young man from Shaker Heights, Ohio, made the 300-plus mile trip to Speedway, Indiana, with his father, Julius “Jay” Penske, to experience his first Indianapolis 500. The father-son duo saw the No. 99 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser of Lee Wallard lead 159 of the 200 laps to score the victory in the 35th running of the event. Roger Penske was immediately hooked.

Less than two decades later, Penske returned to Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) with his race team and a 32-year-old driver from New Jersey named Mark Donohue. Endearingly known as the “college kids” around Gasoline Alley, the Penske-Donohue combination quickly stood tall among the top contenders in the field, finishing seventh, second and 25th in their first three Indianapolis 500 starts (1969 – 1971).  

A thirst for winning and a keen eye for detail paid dividends in 1972. Donohue led just 13 laps, but he was at the front when it mattered most as he joined history as an Indianapolis 500 winner.  It was this victory around the IMS oval that helped establish the Team Penske brand, key partnerships and a legacy of success that continues to this day.

In 131 total starts in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” Team Penske’s win total has climbed to a record-setting 19. The latest triumph includes this year’s victory by Josef Newgarden in the 107th edition of the 500-mile classic.

Today, when Roger Penske returns to IMS, it is a full circle moment that began with that first visit to the track in 1951, followed by his continued success as a car and team owner, and now with his stewardship of the historic race track and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

This week, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NASCAR Cup Series – both disciplines where Team Penske actively competes – come together at IMS. Appropriately so, the Brickyard week began by bringing all 19 Indy 500 winning cars together along with Wallard’s 1951 winner for a powerful visual display with the man who was there for it all, Roger Penske.

Below are some highlights of Team Penske’s 19 Indianapolis 500 victories and the cars and drivers that have contributed to the incredible record of achievement in the legendary race:  

1972: Win No. 1

Driver: Mark Donohue

Car: McLaren M16B

Engine: Offenhauser

Laps Led: 13

Highlights: Mark Donohue won Team Penske’s first Indianapolis 500 in the organization’s fourth appearance.

1979: Win No. 2

Driver: Rick Mears

Car: PC6-004

Engine: Cosworth DFX

Laps Led: 25

Highlights: Californian Rick Mears wins his first Indianapolis 500 from pole position behind the wheel of the “Gould Charge.”

1981: Win No. 3

Driver: Bobby Unser

Car: PC9B-003

Engine: Cosworth Ford

Laps Led: 89

Highlights: Bobby Unser became a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. It’s the second time a Penske car won from pole position. It was also Team Penske’s 100th overall victory as an organization.

1984: Win No. 4

Driver: Rick Mears

Car: March 84C-018

Engine: Cosworth Ford

Laps Led: 119

Highlights: Rick Mears won his second Indianapolis 500 for Team Penske. He donned the Pennzoil livery for the first time which became known as the “Yellow Submarine.”

1985: Win No. 5 

Driver: Danny Sullivan

Car: March 85C-037

Engine: Cosworth Ford

Laps Led: 67

Highlights: Danny Sullivan won his first Indianapolis 500. The race was best known for his recovery from a spin on lap 120 which became known as the “spin and win.”

1987: Win No. 6

Driver: Al Unser Sr.

Car: March 86C

Engine: Cosworth Ford

Laps Led: 18

Highlights: Al Unser Sr. became the second four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. The year-old March chassis was previously on display at a Sheraton hotel in Reading, Pennsylvania. His 20th starting position is the deepest an Indianapolis 500 winner for Team Penske has started.

1988: Win No. 7

Driver: Rick Mears

Car: PC17-04

Engine: IImor Chevrolet V8

Laps Led: 89

Highlights: Rick Mears and the Pennzoil “Yellow Submarine” won their third Indianapolis 500 and Team Penske’s seventh. This was the third time Team Penske won from pole position.

1991: Win No. 8

Driver: Rick Mears

Car: PC20-91-02

Engine: IImor Chevrolet V8

Laps Led: 30

Highlights: Rick Mears became the third four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. He overcame a broken bone in his right foot and a late-race battle with Michael Andretti to score the second-to-last victory of his accomplished career.

1993: Win No. 9

Driver: Emerson Fittipaldi

Car: PC22-04

Engine: IImor Chevrolet V8

Laps Led: 16

Highlights: Emerson Fittipaldi won his second Indianapolis 500. He passed fellow Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell for the lead with 15 laps to go.

1994: Win No. 10

Driver: Al Unser Jr.

Car: PC23-94-07

Engine: IImor Mercedes-Benz Pushrod

Laps Led: 48

Highlights: Al Unser Jr. won his second Indianapolis 500 in what proved to be a dominant month for Team Penske. The IImor Mercedes-Benz Pushrod engine, simply known as “The Beast,” led 193 of the 200 laps between Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi.

2001: Win No. 11

Driver: Helio Castroneves

Car: Dallara

Engine: Oldsmobile *A004

Laps Led: 52

Highlights: Helio Castroneves won Team Penske’s 11th Indianapolis 500 following a five-year absence from the event. It was Team Penske’s first 1-2 finish in the race. For the second time in his career (Detroit, 2000) Castroneves climbed the fence with several crew members to celebrate the victory.

2002: Win No. 12

Driver: Helio Castroneves

Car: Dallara IR2-016

Engine: Chevrolet 052

Laps Led: 24

Highlights: Helio Castroneves became the fifth driver in Indianapolis 500 history to win back-to-back races.

2003: Win No. 13

Driver: Gil de Ferran

Car: Panoz G-Force - 016

Engine: Toyota 3147

Laps Led: 31

Highlights: Gil de Ferran gave Team Penske its third consecutive victory in the Indianapolis 500 and 13th overall. It was Toyota’s first and only win in the event. de Ferran would retire at season’s end and became the fourth Indianapolis 500 winner to retire as a reigning “500” champion.

2006: Win No. 14

Driver: Sam Hornish Jr.

Car: Dallara IR6-010

Engine: Honda SA035

Laps Led: 19

Highlights: Sam Hornish Jr. gave Team Penske its 14th victory in the Indianapolis 500. He started from pole position and passed rookie Marco Andretti coming to the finish line in the third-closest finish in the race’s history.

2009: Win No. 15

Driver: Helio Castroneves

Car: Dallara IR6-009

Engine: Honda

Laps Led: 66

Highlights: Helio Castroneves gave Team Penske its 15th win in the Indianapolis 500. He became the first foreign-born three-time winner and he tied a record by winning the race three times in the same decade.

2015: Win No. 16

Driver: Juan Pablo Montoya

Car: Dallara DW12/Chevrolet Aero Kit

Engine: Chevrolet

Laps Led: 9

Highlights: Juan Pablo Montoya completed a successful comeback to open-wheel racing when he won his second Indianapolis 500, in just his third attempt. His victory set a record for the longest time between wins – 15 years (2000 – 2015).

2018: Win No. 17

Driver: Will Power

Car: Dallara DW12

Engine: Chevrolet

Laps Led: 59

Highlights: Will Power gave Team Penske its 17th victory in the Indianapolis 500. Power became the first driver to win both the Indy Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 in the same year.

2019: Win No. 18

Driver: Simon Pagenaud

Car: Dallara DW12

Engine: Chevrolet

Laps Led: 5

Highlights: Simon Pagenaud won from the pole to give Team Penske its 18th win in the Indianapolis 500. Pagenaud became the second driver to win both the Indy Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 in the same year joining Will Power. Pagenaud became the first French-born winner since 1920.

2023: Win No. 19

Driver: Josef Newgarden

Car: Dallara DW12

Engine: Chevrolet

Laps Led: 5

Highlights: Josef Newgarden collected Team Penske’s 19th and most recent Indianapolis 500 victory this past May, with a last-lap pass. It was the fourth-closest finish in the race’s history and the 100th win for Shell-Pennzoil with Team Penske.


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