It has been reported that NASCAR team owner Roger Penske(2, 12, 77) has made an agreement with General Motors to buy the manufacturer Saturn.
The end was all but here for Saturn, as it, as well as its over 350 dealerships and 13,000 employees, was going to be one of the many unfortunate casualties of the rough economy, and of GM filing for bankruptcy protection. However, it appears that Penske has come to the rescue. For the immediate future, most, if not all of the 350 dealerships will remain in business, and all 13,000 employees will keep their jobs.
One has to wonder now if Saturn won’t be the next new manufacturer to enter into NASCAR. Penske’s team runs Dodge Chargers. But with Chrysler Corporation filing for bankruptcy protection also, not only has Dodge scaled down its support; the future of Dodge in NASCAR is undecided. Both of the teams that run Dodges in NASCAR, Penske and Richard Petty Motorsports, wanted to switch manufacturers to Toyota prior to the 2009 season, but were told no by NASCAR because Toyota already had enough teams.
One of Saturn’s vehicles, the Aura, has a body style that would fit in NASCAR. The only problem is that the Aura runs on 6 cylinders, not 8 like a stock car. That could be changed buy developing a new engine between now and the next model year, 2011. Penske could also have plans of developing his own style of car, which could be converted into a stock car sometime down the line.
If that is Mr. Penske’s plan, the man is a genius. Buying up what would otherwise be a disappearing manufacturer for a good price, so he could build his own car suitable for the racing world is flat-out brilliant. That is, if that is his plan.