Racing icon and businessman Roger Penske will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom award Thursday from President Donald Trump.
Penske won 18 Indianapolis 500 races, founded the Penske Corporation and helped bring the Super Bowl to Detroit in 2006. The Medal of Freedom is awarded to civilians who have made noteworthy contributions to society. It was first established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
“Roger S. Penske is a well-known American success story,” the White House said in a statement. “Guided by his father’s favourite phrase, ‘effort equals results,’ Penske built his one car dealership into Penske Corporation, a leader in global transportation services.
On the track, Mr. Penske built and led Team Penske into the most successful motorsports team in history. Mr. Penske’s passion and unrelenting drive have established him as a business and motorsports icon.”
Penske received a call from Trump over the summer telling him he would be receiving the award.
“What an honour it was to get a call from the president,” Penske said in July. “It was very humbling to understand that I would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s very exciting for me, for my family and certainly for our whole team and the people that have been around me to help me get to where I have been in life.”
In a Twitter post from June, Penske thanked Trump for the recognition of “our achievements in business, in motorsports and in our community.”
Trump said he’s known the fellow billionaire “a long time” and called him “very deserving.”
“He is a great gentleman who has won 18 Indianapolis 500s … just won Daytona,” Trump said in an Oval Office meeting in June. “He won probably more than anyone in the history of racing. I can’t imagine anybody being close.”
Past recipients include director Steven Spielberg, boxer Muhammad Ali, former first lady Nancy Reagan, evangelist Billy Graham and civil rights icon Rosa Parks.