Trump to award Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Roger Penske is the founder and chairman of the Bloomfield Township-based Penske Corp., which operates car dealerships.

Washington — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he plans to award the highest civilian honor to Michigan resident and motor sports king Roger Penske.

"We're going to be presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Roger Penske," Trump told reporters at the White House during an Oval Office meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

"He is a great gentleman who has won 18 Indianapolis 500s. He has won, just won Daytona," said Trump, referring to the Daytona 500 Championship. 

"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."

Penske was at the White House just last week with this year's Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud. He was also in Washington in April when Trump welcomed 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano to the White House. 

Trump said Thursday that Penske is "very deserving."

"I've known him a long time. A very brilliant guy. When you think of all the countries that win Indianapolis and Daytona, and they fight and they spend — even Canada," Trump said. 

The White House did not have further details immediately available Thursday. 

Penske, 82, is a billionaire businessman and owner of Team Penske who founded Penske Corp., headquartered in Bloomfield Hills. He brought the 2006 Super Bowl to Detroit and helped bring IndyCar racing back to Detroit's Belle Isle.

The Presidential Medal of Honor is presented to people who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Trump on Wednesday gave the medal to economist Arthur Laffer and has previously awarded the honor to golfer Tiger Woods, Elvis Presley, Babe Ruth former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and retired Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.