The announcement that Roger Penske would be the pace car driver for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Oil came awhile ago. But on Friday, we were privy to how it all came together. When Roger Penske tells a story, eager race fans lend an ear… so it’s no surprise that all the Team Penske drivers were on hand as well.
Mark Reuss of Chevrolet started everything out by explaining that just being part of the iconic race is an emotional time for him. He started coming to the Indy 500 with his father when he was young, something that many of us can relate to. He recalled how the cars were all different and the series had numerous engine manufacturers. Reuss explained,
“My dad could tell by the sound of the engines, which car was about to come by. That’s what made me want to be an engineer and be a part of this race.”
He commented on the Speedway itself, mirroring something I divulged on Thursday night… because like Mark, this place makes me emotional. It’s been doing that to me for 30 years and with any luck, that will continue for many more decades. “This place is spiritual…”, Reuss proclaimed. I couldn’t agree more.
Reuss talked about how he decided to propose the idea of driving the pacecar to the Roger Penske, and ultimately opted for email. “I’m not an english major…” he admitted, “But I am an engineer, so I think I can ask this with a lot of passion.” His instincts were right, as it only took Penske one minute to think about the offer before accepting!
When asked what his initial thoughts were, as everything was finalized and this really was going to happen, he joked, “I thought, hmm… how can I use that to my advantage? Should I tap the brakes or something?” The room filled with laughter. The Captain was in good spirits. (His day continued on that same path as well!)
The Chevrolet Camaro SS that Penske will pilot was built in Lansing, Michigan and it’s a production line car (other than the “shark” color), so the anniversary Camaros available for limited sale at dealerships will be the exact same model and power. The specific color model mentioned is only 1 of 2 produced by Chevrolet.