Longest-Tenured Team Members Share a Common Bond

February 16, 2021

"Penske Material" provides an inside look at some of the personalities, stories and moments that make Team Penske so unique.

What is the key to lasting more three decades with the most successful team in racing history? What sort of “Penske Material” is required for that type of longevity?

There are a number of factors that have kept the longest-tenured active members of Team Penske around for more than 30 years with the organization. But the common denominator among those special individuals that have spent a good part of their life with the team is simple – a commitment and a loyalty to “The Captain” Roger Penske.

Bernie King

Bernie King has been with the Penske organization for 39 years. King grew up in England and he worked for the British Aircraft Corporation when he decided to give motorsports a try and he joined Tyrell Racing in 1976. King landed a job at Penske Cars in England as a fabricator in 1982 after he saw an ad in Autosport magazine.

After helping to build rear wings and other components, then Penske Cars team manager Derrick Walker asked King to travel to the United States and help with Team Penske IndyCar team. Following the 1982 IndyCar season, King said he planned to return to the United Kingdom – until he had a personal meeting with Roger Penske. During the meeting, Penske asked King, who was in his 20s, to continue working with his team in the U.S. King said that memorable conversation gave him the insight into the type of person and leader that founded the organization and has been its driving force for the last 55 years.

“He said to me ‘if you ever have a problem – whatever it is – you come to me and tell me. If you have any health problems, family problems or whatever that I can help you with, you come and talk to me about it.’ He said, ‘I’ll help you as much as I can,’’” recalled King. “On the personal side, you knew you were getting looked after.”

Beyond the personal commitment, King said he knew that Penske was always focused on being the best and that philosophy raised the level of performance throughout the organization.

“On the racing side, you never went to a race thinking you weren’t going to win with the equipment that you had,” said King, who, of course, remained in the U.S. and works for the team to this day looking after its collection of classic and historical vehicles. “You knew you always had a chance to win that race because Roger supplied the drivers with the best equipment. You knew what was going on in the background. You were trying your hardest to win each race up against the other teams, but you always knew you had a chance to win. And that was always in the back of my mind no matter what.”


Scott Shimp

A Team Penske employee for more than 30 years, Scott Shimp joined the team fresh out of high school in 1981 as a parts runner. Shimp literally grew up around Team Penske. His father worked for Penske Truck Leasing and he did body work on race cars at the team’s home in Reading, Penn., before Team Penske had its own body shop.

Shimp said after seeing how his dad enjoyed working for Roger Penske and his organization, there was never a doubt where his own career path was headed.

“(Penske) is the only guy I’ve ever wanted to work for,” Shimp said. “I come here every morning and I look it like, all right, how are we going to improve and what are we going to do for the boss to try to win this race? I think that’s my drive anyway. He’s done a lot for me and I’d do anything for him.”  

Shimp was working in the engine shop in Reading many years ago during the month of May, getting ready for the Indianapolis 500. The team was working 70-80 hours a week during the month as the race approached. After a dinner break one evening, the group returned to the shop to find a special visitor had arrived.

“We walked in and Roger was sitting there at the one bench waiting for us to come back. We were like ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’ and he was like ‘Well I came to check on you guys and make sure everybody was going all right and to see if you needed anything,’” recalled Shimp.”He took the time to fly back from Indy to check on us to make sure everybody was good. And we didn’t need anything.”

David Munari

David Munari first joined Team Penske in 1974 as he transported a NASCAR show car for the team. He worked on the organization’s early stock car program through 1977. When Team Penske returned to NASCAR competition in 1991, Munari rejoined the team as one of the first people to work on its developing program.

Munari said he’s learned a lot during his 33 years with Team Penske. Some of the most valuable lessons have been about leadership and Munari recalls how Penske’s vision has taken the team in new directions.

He remembers when Team Penske made a transition in NASCAR manufacturers from Pontiac to Ford for the 1994 season. Munari recalls Penske announcing the switch at the team’s Holiday Party in December of 1993 – right after the group had won 10 Cup Series races with driver Rusty Wallace.

“I raised my hand and said ‘Boss we just won 10 races and lost the championship by 32 points,’” said Munari. “He said ‘next year you’ll win 12 races and you’ll win the championship.’ We went to work and in 1994 we won eight races.”

Munari said the latest example of Penske’s leadership has come during the past year when his steadying hand helped guide the organization through the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What he’s done to keep everybody working and to keep us racing is impressive,” said Munari. “He’s like a second father to me. Roger taught me how to win, how to lose, how to address sponsors and how to live life. At 84 years old, most people are slowing down but he’s just getting started.”  

David Little

Like Munari, David Little was an original member of Team Penske’s return to NASCAR in 1991. Little was a fabricator who had previously worked with several NASCAR programs in the 1980s including teams run by RahMoc Enterprises, Junior Johnson, and the Stavola Brothers, where he was also a front-tire carrier during pit stops. Soon after he joined Team Penske, Little became the manager of the team’s fab shop.

Little said workplace environment and employee benefits are two other big factors for why people choose to build a career at Team Penske.

“To me you couldn’t ask for a better place to work,” said Little. “I had worked for some teams before where you didn’t even get any insurance. Here you come to a team where you get insurance, 401k and you’ve got anything you need. The cars are beautiful, you run fast and everybody thinks so highly of (Roger Penske) and the whole operation. Why would you want to leave?”

Little added that Penske’s professionalism with a personal touch is genuine and something that has always built loyalty among team members.

“I had seen him at the racetrack before in the 70s when we had our car. Everything the team did was always did was first-class,” said Little.

“I had to go to Detroit once to work on RP1 (the nickname for the transporter Penske works out of while at the race track). When I walked in there, he came over to me and said, ‘Well I see they had to bring the big guns up, huh?’ That made me feel very good,” said Little. “At our Holiday Party he walked up and called myself and my wife by our first names and asked how we are doing. He knew all the spouses’ names. That’s impressive.”

And that’s true “Penske Material.”


More Penske Material

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