The International Motor Racing Research Center presents the 2016 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports to Roger Penske on June 30, 2016, at the Corning (N.Y.) Museum of Glass. From the left are Duke and J.C. Argetsinger, sons of Cameron Argetsinger, Penske and Bobby Rahal, Indianapolis 500 champion and chairman of the IMRRC Governing Council. (photo by Angelo Lisuzzo; provided by the IMRRC.)
Corning, N.Y. --
Team owner, racer, and businessman, Roger Penske, a man who has been involved with motor sports for over 50 years, received the 2016 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award from the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) at a banquet in his honor Thursday evening, June 30, 2016. The event that brought motor sport royalty from several areas of the sport to pay tribute to Penske was held at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) in Corning, NY, about 20 miles south of Watkins Glen. Previous recipients of the award have been Chip Ganassi in 2014 and Richard Petty in 2015.
Following a cocktail reception outside, the capacity audience in the museum banquet facility saw a video explaining the work and mission of the IMRRC. The research library contains over 700 collections and more than 90,000 professional photographs of motor sport, along with many other items.
Just announced that evening the IMRRC was pleased to let the audience know that it will now manage all 73 years' worth of archives for the 68,000-member strong Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). While the donated archives are an invaluable asset to motor sport history, the need for more physical space for the IMRRC to continue its mission could not be made more clear.
While they had dinner and conversation, those in attendance also watched a rolling slide show of archival photographs of Penske and his drivers over the years. Penske's victories to the date of the dinner included 433 major wins, 499 pole positions, 28 national championships, and 16 Indy 500 wins.
His leadership over time has earned him the nickname "The Captain," and his successes, as one tribute noted, have made him the "winningest car owner in motor sport history." Penske has employed over 85 racing drivers and currently leads 53,000 people in his transportation and other businesses.
Master of ceremonies for the evening was ESPN television commentator, Dr. Jerry Punch, who used his skills to both provide continuity for what was happening throughout the evening and to provide context for the respective guests and video tributes that the audience would see and hear.
Among those in person offering tributes to Penske were: Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International (WGI); Scott Atherton, president and COO of IMSA; Jay Frye, president of IndyCar Competition and Operations; Lisa Noble, president of SCCA; and Walt Czarnecki, executive vice president of Penske Corp. and vice chairman of Team Penske.
Current and former Penske racers in attendance included IndyCar racers Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves. Between the two of them, the drivers represented seven Indy 500 wins.
Those providing remarks via video included NBC Sports' Formula One commentary team: David Hobbs, Leigh Diffey, and Steve Matchett and several former and current racers including: Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Danny Sullivan, Al Unser Jr., Parnelli Jones, George Follmer, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Sam Posey narrated a video presentation of Penske's career.
Other highlights of the evening included an auction of a commissioned painting by motor sports artist, Randy Owens, that depicted Penske with several of his memorable cars over the years. The painting sold for $27,500 with the proceeds going to the IMRRC.
The actual presentation of the Argetsinger Award, a large engraved glass bowl, was made by J. C. Argetsinger and his brother Duke, both sons of Cameron R. Argetsinger, who revived road racing in the United States in Watkins Glen in 1948 as well as Indy 500 Champion and Chairman of the IMRRC Governing Council, Bobby Rahal. Remarking on Penske's skills as a racer in the early days, J. C. Argetsinger noted that Penske had taken pole position at Watkins Glen in the 1959 Formula Libre race -- a race that was later won by Stirling Moss.
In the various discussions and interviews, Penske was asked about his relationship with fallen racer, Mark Donohue. He said that Donohue put his team on the map, that he was "underwhelming in terms of personality," but that he was high on commitment and was one understood technology. He gave the team epic wins.
"He was like a brother to me," Penske said. "I'll never forget him."
Asked by Punch about how the new Argetsinger Award winner's interest in motor sports all started, Penske said, "I loved cars," and that his father took him to the Indy 500 when he was 14 years old. "I always wanted to compete," he said.
He said he is "most proud of my family." What drives him every day is "to try to be better."
His father used to tell him, "Effort equals results," and he has tried to live by that maxim.
The evening closed, and guests were given a gift bag to take home that included J. J. O'Malley's 2009 book, Daytona 24 Hours: The Definitive History of America's Great Endurance Race, published by David Bull Publishing.
The Racing Research Center is an archival library dedicated to the preservation and sharing of the history of motorsports, of all series and all venues, through its collections of books, periodicals, films, photographs, fine art and other materials. The Center is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.