Penske to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom this week

The Detroit News

Motor sports king Roger Penske will receive the highest civilian award this week, according to the White House.

President Donald Trump announced in June that Michigan resident Penske would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award given to civilians in the United States. Penske is expected to receive the award Thursday.

Racing icon Roger Penske will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday.

"He is a great gentleman who has won 18 Indianapolis 500s. He has won, just won Daytona," Trump said during an Oval Office meeting in June with  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He was referring to the Daytona 500 Championship. 

"He won Daytona. He won Indianapolis. He won probably more than anyone in the history of racing. I can't imagine anybody being close."

Trump added: "He's very thrilled to be getting it, and that will be announced over the next little while but I guess actually I am announcing it pretty much now."

Trump called Penske "very deserving" and said he has known the billionaire businessman "a long time."

Penske is owner of Team Penske who founded Penske Corp., which is headquartered in Bloomfield Hills. He is credited with bringing the 2006 Super Bowl to a downtrodden Detroit, spearheading the event and turning it into a success, a sign, he exclaimed later, that "Detroit was coming back." He also helped bring IndyCar racing back to Belle Isle in Detroit.

He was named a Michiganian of the Year in 2005. His company, Penske Corp., was one of seven to commit to spending $35 million in Detroit neighborhoods over five years.

Penske in July acknowledged getting notified about the medal in a letter and a phone call.

“What an honor it was to get a call from the president,” Penske said. “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. This is more than about a sport. This is about your country. This is about you as an individual.”