By now, it is no secret that Phoenix has plenty to offer the automotive enthusiast. Between car shows, cruise-ins, and auction events, there's something for almost everyone. If there is one thing Phoenix is short on however, it's car museums. There's just one that I know of, but it's definitely worth checking out.
It's called the Penske Racing Museum, and it is home to both cars and racing memorabilia from the personal collection of Roger Penske, who is the owner of the Penske Automotive Group. The museum is conveniently located on Scottsdale Road, just south of the Loop 101 freeway.
Okay, so before you get all revved up at me, I know that this is the North Phoenix Blog and the museum is not in Phoenix. But Phoenix and Scottsdale are neighbors, and around here we try to "Love thy neighbor" as the old saying goes.
Getting back on track here, why should you visit the Penske Racing Museum? Well, here are a few good reasons I can think of: it's free, it's open to the public, and the collection does not disappoint. The museum is wedged between the Land Rover dealership and the Jaguar dealership, in a mirrored glass building two stories tall. From the outside it looks like every other office building along the freeway, but inside you will find some important specimens of racing history.
The majority of the collection features open wheel Indy Cars, which are not to be confused with similarly styled Formula One cars. I don't know much about them so I'm not about to pretend that I do and embarrass myself in the process.
There are a couple of NASCAR vehicles on display, including the #2 Rusty Wallace Dodge Charger from 2005 and the #12 Ryan Newman Dodge. Vintage NASCAR fans will appreciate Roger Penske's 1963 Pontiac Catalina with the #02 on the doors. With its flawless black paint job and vintage racing decals, it is too nice to be anywhere other than a museum. Although I'm not much of a NASCAR fan, I really enjoyed seeing what they look like up close.
Other collection highlights include a 1973 IROC Porsche RSR, a vintage Indianapolis 500 pace car, and a modern Corvette Z06 pace car. There were several Indy V8 engines on display throughout the museum, each one an intricate work of art that must have taken a large amount of some skilled mechanic's time to assemble. I was astonished that an engine with just 2.65 liters of displacement could generate over 700 HP at 12,500 RPM!
Upstairs you'll find the gift shop and trophy case for Penske Automotive Group along with the cafe. After grabbing a sandwich and something to drink, you can eat indoors or outdoors on the shaded balcony. The balcony provides an excellent view of the Land Rover test course, where prospective buyers can put their new Rover through its paces on a series of uneven surfaces and hill climbs.
The Penske Racing Museum is a wonderful place to visit. It's a class act all the way, from the track lighting to the black tiled floor, which was polished to a mirror finish. Nothing about the place seemed cheap and visitors were encouraged to spend as long as they like browsing the collection. My recommendation is that you mark this on your To-Do list under "Must See."
Penske Racing Museum
7125 E Chauncey Lane
Phoenix, AZ 85054