I first saw Roger Penske racing a Maserati Birdcage at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. He won a superb battle with Peter Ryan’s Lotus 19. Penske was smooth…in every way. He was young, good-looking and very determined. My interest was also sparked by the fact that he had just finished at Lehigh University, where my father had gone. Penske was smart, and it seemed like he and Ryan were two guys who would go wherever they wanted. I was there at Watkins Glen in 1961 when they both made their F1 debut at the United States Grand Prix, and finished 8th and 9th. Then Ryan was killed in a Formula Junior race at Reims in 1962 and his chance was gone. Roger Penske’s star has never stopped ascending.
This story is complex. It’s about the immense success of Roger Penske, his drive and determination and how he came to dominate Indycar racing among other things. It’s also about Paul Morgan who, along with Mario Illien, had a dream about what their engines could do. Penske’s vision allowed him to see what the Morgan-Illien partnership—Ilmor—was capable of. And it is also about the late Paul Morgan’s son Patrick, who helped to keep his father’s memory alive by finding, restoring and running one of the cars with the most successful of all Indy racing engines of modern times, the Ilmor Chevy 265A. The story is a tribute to some fine people, to technical brilliance and to dogged determination.
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