Throwback Thursday - Team Penske's First Victory

January 14, 2016

The inaugural 24 Hours of Daytona was held in February of 1966. As it happened, Roger Penske made his first-ever start as a race team owner at that historic event with an organization that was then-known as Roger Penske Racing. The fledgling team contested the race around the clock in a stock Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with a three driver rotation comprised of Dick Guldstrand, George Wintersteen and Ben Moore. Despite being a new race team pitted against established European teams with factory support, the rookie team competed admirably and successfully as they won the GT Class.

The No. 6 Sunoco Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was a stock machine with 427 cubic inch engine. While it was capable of more, the drivers were instructed to run the car at 6000 rpm to increase the odds of the engine going the distance. At that rpm, the Team Penske Corvette averaged about 98 mph around the Daytona racing circuit.

The strategy worked beautifully as the Stingray led the class for much of the race despite being involved in a minor incident during the night that resulted in the front end receiving moderate damage to the bodywork. The most extensive damage suffered was that both front headlights were broken beyond repair. Using the tools they had, the crew fastened two flashlights in place of the head lamps so that the drivers did not miss a beat during the night hours. The team’s planning, preparation and execution set the standard for what has since become known as the “Penske way.”

The team finished 27 laps ahead of the second-place GT car as they won the class and set a precedent of excellence that has lasted for 50 years and counting. In the time since, Team Penske has accrued a record of accomplishment that places it in a category of its own in motorsports.

The 2016 running of the 24 Hours of Daytona is set to run in a couple of weeks. While Team Penske is not entered in this years' running, one of the team’s INDYCAR drivers, Simon Pagenaud is contesting the race so the team will have representation at the iconic event.