Cindric: “Unbelievable” how Penske has already improved Indy

Tim Cindric, president of Team Penske, says he’s looking forward to the reaction from fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when they see the improved “customer experiences” that Roger Penske has already instigated.

Cindric: “Unbelievable” how Penske has already improved Indy

Penske Entertainment bought both the Speedway and IndyCar as a whole last fall, and Cindric says that a recent visit to IMS left him deeply impressed with the changes wrought in the space of just six months.

“I got a chance to actually go to Indianapolis a couple weeks ago,” he said. “The Daytona 500 was the last time that I saw Roger up until two weeks ago, other than these Zoom calls. (He taught me what Zoom was, so he was ahead of the curve relative to myself on this Zoom business!) He took the initiative to have me come to Indy and spend a couple hours with him on a golf cart going around the Speedway and just understanding what's transpired since he took over – and it's amazing.

“Having grown up there as a kid, I thought I knew that place like the back of my hand, and there's so many places that I went to and that I saw on the outside of the racetrack that I had never seen before. [Roger] said, ‘What do you think?’ and after I thought about it, I'm like, ‘The best way I can tell you is that this whole place looks younger.’

“I'm really interested to see what the die-hard fans have to say because you know how it is: you know your little space. Like for us, we know the garage area like the back of our hand, we know the men's bathroom, we know exactly where the paper towels are, what all works, what used to be there and what's there now, and you walk it now and it's amazing; you have LED lights in the bathrooms. OK, people have made jokes about the bathrooms, but when you understand how many of them there are and the fact that's somewhere everybody goes… That's one discussion.

“But what they haven't really understood is just the sight lines, the video boards, the additional video situations that he has, and the overall customer experience – what you see as you drive in, what you see as you walk in a gate, the actual grandstand that you've walked up for years, and you've had this particular seat for years. It used to be a rusty banister, now it's not. It used to be this and it used to be that.

“It's unbelievable what's happened in a short period of time. It's unfortunate we are where we are now, but in some ways it's good for the Speedway in that they've had even more time to do some of these things. It's quite an evolution, and I think it'll continue there for a while.”

Cindric also explained that despite his boss now having IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway on his plate, his own role within Team Penske hadn’t shifted drastically from how it has been since he became president of the team in 2006, after joining in 1999.

“Honestly, [Roger] has given me that rope here for the last 20 years in a lot of ways,” he mused, “so I think our relationship really hasn't changed in terms of the way he and I operate… From a running-the-race-team perspective, he's kind of always given me that ability to go do those things and has never really micromanaged what we do.

“I've always felt like I have an understanding of when to pick up the phone and when to make sure he's in the meeting, so I think that's probably why I've survived here so long, because I think I understand that balance.

“I've felt more of an accountant and an HR guy than I have a racing guy here in the last two or three months, so it'll be fun to actually be a racing guy here for a little while.

“But yeah, my role within the team – I guess I refer to myself as the team guy. [Roger] has got to focus on the series, and I really don't have much influence in the series itself, except I probably have a seat closer to the table than I did before, as far as being one that he'll reach out and ask about a certain thing that's happening or what he's trying to achieve and maybe try and give some direction with who else out there might be a good sounding board for some of the things that IndyCar or IMS is trying to be.

“But the quality of people there, he's come to find that there's a really good core within IndyCar and within IMS, and his leadership has really brought that to another level, I think. Unfortunately we haven't been able to see that [yet].”

With regard to his ‘HR guy’ comment, Cindric says that Penske’s Mooresville, NC facility has been working in shifts since the coronavirus pandemic response guidelines eased enough to allow staff back to work.

“We've chosen at this point to work in shifts rather than have our entire workforce together,” he said. “You have to remember we have almost 500 people in the building on a normal basis, so we've really been working to maybe a third of the workforce on any given day, split into shifts. Our shifts have been six-hour shifts, so we've been working from 6am to noon, and then we've taken a two-hour break for sanitization and so forth, and then we've worked then from 2:00 to 8:00 with a different shift.

“That's been across the board through all of our series, and we'll continue that process here for the foreseeable future, and really it helps us maybe take less risk with our people but also put ourselves in a position to where we're not as vulnerable should someone get infected.”

 

shares
comments
Palou: “The only one on the grid that has never raced an oval”

Previous article

Palou: “The only one on the grid that has never raced an oval”

Next article

Kanaan reunites with 7-Eleven for his final Texas race

Kanaan reunites with 7-Eleven for his final Texas race
Load comments
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021
IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet Prime

IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet

The ace 20-somethings in IndyCar have risen to become title contenders, but the best of the series veterans are digging deep and responding – and will continue to do so over the next couple of years, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021