Penske Profile - Jerry Breon

February 12, 2015

Jerry Breon has a story that is as unique as anyone working for Team Penske. The longest-tenured Team Penske employee, Breon has held a number of wide-ranging duties during his 40-year career with the organization. 

Born in Williamsport, Penn., Breon moved to upstate New York as a toddler before spending his formative years growing up in suburban Chicago, Ill. Upon graduation from high school he chose to study mechanical engineering at one of the nation’s leading institutions for this curriculum, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Attending school just an hour away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) would have a profound effect on Breon. 

During the summer months at Purdue, Breon began working with his brother-in-law on the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) team driven by former Team Penske mechanic, Warren Agor. Having no prior interest in motorsports, the first race he attended was one in which he was working, the 1970 Marlboro Trans-Am 200 in Bridgehampton, NY. 

Upon determining that motorsports may be a career path worth choosing, Breon decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about at the big, 2.5-mile oval in Indianapolis. In 1972 he hitchhiked from Purdue to within five miles of IMS and walked the rest of the way to the track. Needing a nap to rest after his long trek, Breon slept beneath a large tree that still exists across 16th Street from IMS. After obtaining a ticket to the 1972 Indianapolis 500 from, as he describes, an “unofficial ticket seller,” Breon was able to see history made as Mark Donohue won Team Penske’s first Indianapolis 500-mile race. 

That race was all it took for Breon to know that he wanted to work for Team Penske. The professional appearance and success of the team really stood out to him and, in 1974, he began his career with the team. He started as a general mechanic on the team’s original IROC program, but within six months he was appointed the head of the fabrication department, overseeing the construction of cars driven by Mark Donohue, Bobby Allison, Tom Sneva, Mario Andretti and Bobby Unser, to name just a few. Breon would remain in this position until the end of the 1998 season. 

In addition to his role as head of fabrication, Breon was also one of the fastest tire changers on pit road in the Indy Car Series, as well as a top-flight tire changer and fueler in NASCAR. He worked on the over-the-wall crew for 21 years from 1974-1995. He recalls a race in Detroit where he continually impressed the famous actor and race team owner, Paul Newman, with some astounding pit stops. After a blistering final stop of the day, Newman could only look down at Breon, shake his head and mouth the word, “unbelievable.”

In 1999, Breon’s Team Penske career took him on a different path. From that year up until now he has been the facilities manager for the organization. When he began in this new role his responsibility was solely for the former INDYCAR shop in Reading, Penn. However, in the mid-2000s, Breon was tasked with helping consolidate both the INDYCAR and NASCAR teams under one, massive roof in Mooresville, N.C. Upon the completion of that process in 2007, Breon became responsible for all matters relating to the 400,000 square-foot facility where 350 employees work to produce cars that have won championships at every level in which they compete. 

Having been a part of one of the most successful sports organizations in history for five decades, Breon is a living, breathing history of Team Penske. He lists sitting alone with Rick Mears in the IMS garage after Mears’ fourth and final Indianapolis 500 win in 1991, sharing a moment of disbelief, as his favorite memory. He has been present for all of Team Penske’s record 15 Indianapolis 500 victories. Each May, Breon has responsibility for ensuring that the Team Penske garages at IMS are in perfect order when the mechanics and drivers arrive. 

Breon’s hobbies include scale-model railroading. He is currently working on a 450-square foot HO scale layout depicting the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1940’s. He and his wife, Betty, have one daughter, Stephanie, and three grandchildren.