You know the guy in the middle of the photo. But without the guys standing on either side of him, Roger Penske might never have reached the lofty position he occupies in the world of transportation and global motorsport. After more than 50 years of winning races and championships by the bushel, Team Penske has inducted two of the founder’s closest confidants and leaders into its own Hall of Fame. Don Miller (left in the photo) and Dan Luginbuhl (right) were enshrined yesterday in the Team Penske Hall of Fame, the induction taking place at the team’s enormous headquarters complex in Mooresville, North Carolina.
A Chicago native, Don Miller was a key player in automotive performance products at Sears and at National Engines when he joined up with Roger Penske in 1972. A former Midwest drag racer and race official, Miller worked on Penske’s IndyCar and NASCAR teams in addition to vastly growing the organization’s Goodyear race tire and motorsports promotion arms. In 1991, the Captain tapped him to establish Penske Racing South in Mooresville, where the Penske NASCAR effort was revived with Rusty Wallace as driver and team principal. Penske South went on to amass 67 NASCAR and ARCA victories under Miller’s leadership, which ended with his retirement in 2007. Miller was also Penske’s principal liaison to the team’s sponsors, led by MillerCoors. He is also responsible for setting up the Team Penske shop complex, which sprawls over more than 400,000 square feet, serving as home base for the organization’s IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams under team president Tim Cindric, who succeeded Miller. He is also an acclaimed restorer and collector of vintage cars, especially performance cars from the 1950s, and is a former Bonneville record holder.
“When I first started at Team Penske there were 29 of us,” said Miller. “The population has grown significantly since then, but there is no place I’d rather be. I always tried to do the very best, not only for this team, but for Mr. Penske. When you are a member of this team, he will always have your back. I really appreciate this award. I am honored to be a part of this organization and the Team Penske Hall of Fame.”
A native of Bluffton, Ohio, Dan Luginbuhl was operating a Cleveland-based public relations firm when he joined Team Penske in 1969, the operation’s second year of existence. Luginbuhl’s tenure saw Team Penske become an innovative global leader in public relations, marketing and hospitality at the track long before other race teams were thus focused. He rose to vice president of communications for Penske Corporation, based in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, before he retired in 2002. Luginbuhl nonetheless remains active as a press strategist for the company, which operates a dozen separate business groups and now numbers more than 64,000 employees globally.
“I am very honored to receive this special honor. And I am humbled to be in the company of some amazing people,” said Luginbuhl. “It’s been my privilege to work with many a great people over the years. We have come a long way since 1969 and our team of 10 working at the four-bay truck garage in Pennsylvania. But the mission today is still the same – work together, get the job done, keep building the Penske brand worldwide and of course, ‘effort equals results.’”
On a personal note, I count both of these unique gentlemen as my friends and mentors. I authored Don Miller’s memoirs, Miller’s Time, which is an honest look at what it takes to rise to the pinnacle of American motorsports, and what it takes to stay there. Dan Luginbuhl was instrumental in sourcing the manuscript and ensuring its historical accuracy. Without these guys’ help, that project would never have come together. Miller’s Time is important reading for anyone who dreams about getting into racing at the professional level, and can be acquired at Coastal 181, my publishers. The LAT photo that accompanies this post was provided by Merrill Cain at Penske Corporation. Miller and Luginbuhl now join Roger Penske (2016), Mark Donohue (2016), Rick Mears (2017), Karl Kainhofer (2017), Rusty Wallace (2018) and Walter Czarnecki (2018) as Team Penske Hall of Fame inductees.