Indianapolis Motor Speedway Is Sold to Roger Penske

Roger Penske, the 82-year-old transportation mogul who became a car owner whose drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 a record 18 times, said on Monday that he has agreed to buy the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Penske Entertainment Corporation will acquire all of the principal operating assets of Hulman & Company, including the 110-year-old speedway, the IndyCar Series and IMS Productions. Penske would not disclose the sale price at a news conference in Indianapolis.

Penske, a former racecar driver whose 64,000-employee company is based in Detroit, has remained active as the owner of Indy-car, stock-car and sports-car race teams, sitting atop a pit box to call strategy for one of the Team Penske drivers at the Indy 500 in May.

“I think I’ve got a bigger job to do now,” he said at the news conference.

Asked if there could be a conflict of interest for him to own a racing team in the series that he will own and has its biggest race on a famous track that he will also own, Penske said: “I understand the integrity issue. There’s got to be a bright line.”

Such conflicts are not unusual in racing; the France family, for example, runs NASCAR and owns several tracks.

Penske said he agreed to buy the speedway and series because open-wheel racing, though still in NASCAR’s shadow in the United States, has grown in popularity the last few years. The 100th Indy 500, run in 2016, attracted a capacity crowd of about 300,000, and the annual race is still an enormous event.

“No question — we have great momentum,” said Mark Miles, the president and chief executive officer of Hulman & Company. “Every fan metric shows growth. We see nothing but more of that growth.”

Penske does not plan to change the management team of the track and the IndyCar Series. A renowned stickler for details, Penske said he plans to tour the “entire facility” Tuesday and develop, with insight from employees, a top-10 to-do list. He said more “fan zones” could be built, for example.

More important, Penske did not rule anything out to draw more events to the track. Options include persuading Formula One to return and, perhaps, attracting a 24-hour race at the speedway, which is not lighted but could be. He intends to keep the annual 400-mile NASCAR race at Indy.

Penske also said he was open to examining an IndyCar-NASCAR weekend doubleheader at the speedway, adding, “We’ve got to break the glass on some of these things, don’t we?”

The speedway hosted only one event — the Indy 500 and its practice sessions and qualifying events — before the first NASCAR Brickyard 400 in 1994. The speedway added the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix in 2000, but the race left in 2007 after a 2005 controversy involving Michelin tires.

The speedway also hosted the MotoGP world championship for motorcycles from 2008 to 2015. The IndyCar Series added a road course event in 2014 and has held it each May before the Indy 500 since then.

A short dirt track was built in the infield last year, and the speedway has had several music concerts in association with races. There are also four holes of an 18-hole golf course in the infield.

Tony Hulman, whose wholesale-foods company is based in Terre Haute, Ind., bought the dilapidated speedway from Eddie Rickenbacker in late 1945 and restored the prestige of the Indianapolis 500, the annual race at the two-and-a-half-mile oval.

The racetrack remained in the family for nearly 74 years, but Tony George, Hulman’s grandson and the chairman of Hulman & Company, said at the news conference that the company “probably had taken it as far as we can.”

So he said he sought out Penske at the IndyCar Series season finale in late September at Laguna Seca in California and said he would like to talk about Penske taking over the racetrack. George said, “He got a very serious look on his face.”

George’s voice broke as he talked about his family’s deep history with the track. George, who started a civil war with Penske and other team owners by starting the Indy Racing League in 1996, would like to continue to stay involved in the sport as a team owner.

“We’ve literally grown up around it,” George, 59, said of the racetrack.

Penske has a long history with the speedway, too. He was 14 when his father, Jay, who worked for a metal fabrication company in Cleveland, got a pair of tickets to the 1951 Indy 500. Besides watching the race, Penske and his father got to attend a luncheon where Roger posed for a photo in a roadster used in the race.

“I guess at that point the bug of auto racing got into my blood,” he said.

He turned down a chance to take a rookie test for the Indy 500, so a young driver from Nazareth, Pa., named Mario Andretti stepped in. But after a successful career as a sports-car driver, Penske fielded his first car as team owner in the Indianapolis 500 in 1969.

The first Penske driver to win the race was Mark Donohue in 1972, and Penske entered cars in the Indy 500 until George broke away with the I.R.L. Penske resumed entering cars after he missed the race five times and was instrumental in repairing the split between the I.R.L. and the former Championship Auto Racing Teams, or CART. Simon Pagenaud, a Penske driver, won this year’s race.

“I do like being in the winner’s circle,” Penske said of the speedway he bought. “I know what that looks like.”