Penske Close To Sealing The Australian V8 Supercar Deal

Marcos Ambrose

(WOMR file photo)

Two of the biggest names in global motorsport are on a collision course that could forge the most powerful ­alliance in V8 Supercar history.

Dick Johnson is closing on a deal with Roger Penske, an American billionaire whose motorsport empire has claimed everything worth having in US motorsports, including 15 ­victories in the Indianapolis.

Penske Racing fields front-running cars in America’s two blue ribbon championships, IndyCar and NASCAR, and his drivers include transplanted Queenslander Will Power.

The Johnson-Penske deal could be finalized before the end of the month and even include the signing of ­Marcos Ambrose as lead driver for next year’s V8 Supercar season.

Ambrose, a two-time V8 Supercar champion in Falcons with Stone Brothers Racing, is strongly rumored to have plans to return to Australia with his family after battling to make the top grade in NASCAR racing in America despite ­several big road-course wins.

No one on either side of the ­Pacific is giving any confirmation yet but there are strong pointers to a Penske-Johnson super team as Penske expands his giant motoring empire into Australia, with a string of new-car dealerships and local ­ownership of the Western Star truck brand.

Penske already has close ties to Ford through his NASCAR team, and has a history of close ties with manufacturers, including — at different times — Mercedes-Benz and Porsche in the US.

It makes sense that he would want to partner with Johnson, who has been backed by Ford, with only one significant break, since the early 1980’s.

If Penske does take a stake in Dick Johnson Racing it would signal a ­return to the glory days of the brand.

The team (Dick Johnson Racing) has fallen on tough times in recent years on and off the track, and if not for the support of Johnson’s business partners — CrimSafe’s Steve Brabeck and Dr Ryan Story — the ­operation would have died a painful death long ago.

Johnson is not prepared to comment on the Penske negotiations but admitted he would welcome a buy-in!

“I really want to cement the ­future, with where DJR is headed,” Johnson said.

“It has been embarrassing for the team to be in the position we’ve been in the past few years.

“This is an opportunity to be ­extremely competitive again.”

Penske’s interest in V8 Supercar racing became public at the Bathurst 1000 last year when his motorsports boss, Tim Cindric, visited the race and spent time with Johnson.

The trip included senior Ford Motorsport figures and Penske has also flown to Australia, with a recent rumored sighting at the DRJ race base at Yatala on the Gold Coast.

“There is nothing to report at the present time,” a DJR spokesman said.

But all the pieces are in place, and in play, for a revolutionary change at Team Penske and DJR that would provide the funding and staffing for a big push from next year.(

It makes perfect sense, with Roger Penske’s expansion into Australia with new car dealerships and his Western Star Diesel Tractors, that Team Penske would also jump into the dominate racing series, big time, in that country as well!


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