NewsLocal News / August 21, 2020

Penske To Give Command To Start Engines For Indy 500

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, file photo, Penske Corporation Chairman Roger Penske responds to a question during a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  - AP Photo/AJ Mast, File

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, file photo, Penske Corporation Chairman Roger Penske responds to a question during a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

AP Photo/AJ Mast, File

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Roger Penske will give the command to start the engines for the Indianapolis 500. Penske will take over a role held by the late Tony Hulman or the Hulman-George family for decades.

Penske in January became the fourth owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track on Friday confirmed to The Associated Press that it will be Penske giving the command.

Speedway officials also confirmed the Andretti family will be honored before Marco Andretti leads the field to green. Mario Andretti, the 1969 winner of the race, drives the IndyCar two-seater for the series before events and will be joined by son, Michael, for the ride.

Marco Andretti is the first Andretti on the pole for the Indy 500 since Mario Andretti in 1987.

The two-seater ride for Mario and Michael will mark the first time three generations of the racing family will be on track together at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I’m one of the few that can say I’ve been teammates with both my father and my son, and now to have the opportunity for all three of us to be on track together, on race day at IMS, is really special,” Michael Andretti said. “Dad and I are really excited to do this together, but we’re still fighting about who’s going to drive.”

The starter for the Indy 500, meanwhile, is an important element to the tradition of the race and made famous when Hulman began giving it in 1955. Hulman was a soft-spoken man who would rehearse the line in order to perfectly deliver the command in a proud and vociferous manner.

Hulman’s widow took over the honor following his 1977 death, and it then went to their daughter, Mari George, and ultimately his grandson, Tony George.

Penske did not give the command for the July weekend in which both NASCAR and IndyCar shared the track in his first events as track owner. The command for the IndyCar race was given by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. For the NASCAR race, the command was given by Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records and he held a bottle of hand sanitizer for the occasion.

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