Roger Penske will make his first visit to Mount Panorama with DJR Team Penske this year for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, according to team co-owner Dick Johnson.
And despite his incredible experience in motor racing, Johnson believes ‘The Captain’ will be blown away by the spectacle of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at its spiritual home.
At yesterday’s 2016 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 launch, Johnson confirmed the motorsport icon was planning to attend Australia’s premier motor race in October to support his Supercar team. Penske’s last visit to a Supercars event was for the Perth SuperSprint in May.
“He’ll be out at Bathurst, I believe,” Johnson told supercars.com.
“Absolutely [he’ll love it]. He’s one person I’m sure will be extremely excited to be there because whatever you might say about the guy, he just loves motor racing.”
Johnson doesn’t believe Penske’s presence will affect the team or make them nervous.
The three-time Bathurst 1000 winner has attended the race for decades, having won his first in 1981 and says he still looks forward to the race each year.
“Bathurst always gives you the same goose bumps every time you drive over the hill and you see that Mount Panorama written on the mountain there,” Johnson said.
“It’s been the same ever since day one and even though the track is not in shape changed much over the years, certainly it’s changed in safety in a lot of other ways. Just an awesome place to drive.”
The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 was a turning point for DJR Team Penske last year, with drivers Scott Pye and Marcos Ambrose putting in an impressive performance before a late-race accident that left Pye with a broken rib.
Days later the team confirmed it would expand to two cars for 2016. The expansion to run two cars was inevitable, but sooner than initially planned.
“Doing one car I thought was a mistake but when you look at it in hindsight I think it was a very smart decision on Roger’s behalf,” Johnson said.
“He could understand what was required to be competitive, what people were required, what people were required and just how the whole thing would be able to gel together.”