Motorsports Auto Racing History
OUR LOVE OF CARS IS ROOTED IN RACING
Since automobile racing’s earliest days, no motor oil has left its mark on virtually every form of the auto racing sport more so than Pennzoil® .
This relationship dates back all the way to the 1930s, when Pennzoil sponsored Indy driver Russell Snowberger. “Snowy” went on to score top-10 finishes in every 500 he entered. Encouraged by his success, more and more Indy drivers started using Pennzoil auto racing oil.
The Pennzoil oval was seen on many early drag cars as well. In 1958, Pennzoil sponsored the fastest-rising star on the NHRA circuit, Don “Big Daddy" Garlits. And throughout the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, Pennzoil-lubricated machines dominated the top fuel, funny car and pro-stock categories.
In the late ’70s, Pennzoil developed a special motor oil blend for two- and four-stroke engines. Consequently, Pennzoil-lubricated bikes won every Baja event in every racing class during the ’70s and ’80s.
Quarter-mile hero and former teenage drag racing prodigy Eddie Hill later took to drag boat racing, where he racked up an incredible string of records. He reached 229 mph in a propeller-driven boat in 1982—which remains a Guinness World Record.
Back at the Brickyard, USAC Triple Crown winners Jim Hall and Al Unser blew the crowd away with the revolutionary “ground effects” Chaparral boat. Next season, Johnny Rutherford won the national championship and was named “Driver of the Year” driving the Pennzoil Chaparral.
In 1983, Pennzoil joined forces with Roger Penske and superstar driver Rick Mears. The Pennzoil dynasty continued, capturing victory in the 500 just one year later. Over a five-year period, Pennzoil cars won the 500 four out of five times. Also in ’85, Mears, in the Pennzoil car, set Indy’s fastest lap at the time—204.937 mph.
Powered by Pennzoil’s specially blended Grade 70, Miss Budweiser and Atlas Van Lines Special became world champions in unlimited hydroplane racing in the late ’70s thru the ’80s. Meanwhile, Eddie Hill, in the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, clocked 4.990 at the Texas Motorplex. Hill was the first driver to cover the quarter mile in less than 5 seconds from a standing start.
In 1996, Pennzoil and 1995 Busch Grand National Series Champion Johnny Benson joined forces. At year’s end, Benson was named 1996 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year—and Pennzoil® motor oil became the “Official Motor Oil” for both the Brickyard 400® and the Indy 500® .
In 2000, NASCAR driver Steve Park steered the #1 Pennzoil Chevy into Victory Lane at Watkins Glen, and in 2001 he triumphed at Rockingham. On the open-wheel circuit, Pennzoil-backed Panther Racing and Sam Hornish Jr. won the IRL Indy Car Championships in both 2001 and 2002.
2004 added even more chapters and trophies to the Pennzoil motorsports legacy. Kurt Busch captured the Sprint Cup Championship. In 2005, Roush drivers Busch, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle completed the Chase for the Championship with Pennzoil powering their engines.
The 2007 season saw Pennzoil become a primary sponsor in NASCAR with Richard Childress Racing. In addition to capturing the 2007 Daytona 500, RCR was the only Sprint Cup team to get all of its drivers into The Chase in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons. RCR put all three of its cars in the 2010 “Chase” as well.
In the American Le Mans Series, Risi Competizione continued its standout performance with its Ferrari F430 GTC race cars. What made the team’s performance even more amazing was that The Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GTCs ran the same Pennzoil Ultra Euro Formula any driver can buy in retail outlets.
Two-thousand-eleven turned out to be another outstanding year for Pennzoil and Penske Racing. In the IZOD® IndyCar Series, Will Power again won the most poles and the most races and again finished a close second in the final championship standings. In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski both made The Chase, with Keselowski finishing fifth in the final standings.
Used under license from Penske Racing South, Inc.