Paint and Body Shop Strives to be 'Penske Perfect'

October 5, 2020

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

One of the elements that people notice about Team Penske race cars week in and week out is how clean and professional they look. Whether watching Team Penske race from the grandstands at the track or at home on TV, fans notice and appreciate the bright and bold colors that adorn each of the team’s cars and equipment. An important group of 15 people led by a longtime Penske team member are tasked with the responsibility of making sure everything looks “Penske Perfect” when it’s time to race.

Dave Eisenhofer began his Penske career in 1979 in the team’s original hometown of Reading, Penn., working for Penske Truck Leasing. In 1980, Eisenhofer began painting the team’s Indy cars driven that season by Rick Mears and Bobby Unser. Eisenhofer worked on the cars in the Penske Truck Leasing paint shop back then because the race team did not have its’ own paint area.  In 1985, Eisenhofer transitioned to Team Penske full time when the team’s headquarters in Reading was expanded to include a paint shop area. Eisenhofer continued with the team in Pennsylvania through 2006, before he relocated to Mooresville, NC to oversee both the Team Penske NASCAR and INDYCAR paint and body shops.

A look inside the Team Penske facility back in 2015With a large volume of cars and a grueling 38-week schedule during a normal season, the team’s paint and body shops are always busy. With the evolving challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic thrown in this season, the shops and its team members have turned up the intensity to help manage a challenging situation. A typical work week these days includes three different shifts working along nearly a 24-hour period, painting one chassis and wrapping two cars nightly to keep up with demand. The over 400,000 square-foot Team Penske facility is equipped with four spray booths and four prep stations for maximum efficiency.

“At 5:15 am I am sitting in my truck looking at the pictures that are sent to me of the finished cars and I am critiquing it to our flat art,” said Eisenhofer. “There are checks and balances in our system as both marketing and mechanics will also review the cars to make sure nothing is missing.”

A look inside the Team Penske facility back in 2015Team Penske’s 30-plus year relationship with PPG Industries continues to be a big benefit to the organization and a key element to maintaining a high-level of performance. Along with being featured on the team’s race cars and equipment, PPG paint products are used on Team Penske transporters, service vehicles, car restoration projects and throughout the organization’s racing facility.

“The (PPG) representatives have been wonderful throughout the years,” said Eisenhofer. “They work with us to make sure we are using all the correct products to make our job more efficient and to give it that ‘Penske Perfect’ appearance every time.”

A look inside the Team Penske facility back in 2015With countless paint schemes produced by the Team Penske paint and body shop over the decades, Eisenhofer admits to having a personal favorite. In late 1988, Roger Penske came to Eisenhofer and asked, “How to do you like painting white cars?” Eisenhofer and his team then went to work painting the distinctive white and red livery reflecting the Marlboro brand on the team’s Indy cars.

That iconic paint scheme became associated with the team’s great success in the late 80s and through the 90s, including multiple Indianapolis 500 victories and championships. The popular livery continued through the conclusion of the 2009 season. Eisenhofer recalled that one of the details that set that scheme apart was that every sponsor logo on the cars were painted with a stencil as opposed to a vinyl decal.

As the rigors of the racing schedule and the number of team partners increased over the years, it became more efficient and cost effective to wrap cars in vinyl rather than painting each one.  But Eisenhofer said he agrees with Penske, his longtime boss – nothing looks better than a newly-painted race car.

When asked how the term “Penske Perfect” became the standard, Eisenhofer said it started at the top. “Throughout the years when we have a new paint scheme, Mr. Penske will visit the shop to lay the scheme out with us,” said Eisenhofer. “He will spend many hours deciding what colors to use and where to use them. His attention to detail is like no other.”

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