Penske hails Kalkhoven as one of motorsport’s ‘true leaders’
Wednesday 5th January, 2022 - 8:39am
Current IndyCar owner Roger Penske has hailed Kevin Kalkhoven one of motorsport’s “true leaders” after the death of the former Champ Car boss.
Kalkhoven, born and raised in Adelaide, passed away on January 4 at the age of 77, a recent illness.
While initially making his name as a big-time CEO in the United States, he would later have a major impact in motor racing by rescuing CART along with Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi ahead of the 2004 season.
Kalkhoven also ended up being an owner of one of Champ Car’s, and now IndyCar’s, marquee races in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, and his KV Racing Technology (KVRT) team would take victory in the very biggest in North America, the Indianapolis 500, in 2013.
Penske, himself now a category owner as well as being a multi-time Indy 500-winning team owner, is among those to have paid tribute to the Australian.
“Motorsports has lost one of its true leaders,” stated ‘The Captain’.
“Kevin Kalkhoven had a great passion for open-wheel racing, and his vision and support helped guide the sport through some turbulent times.
“As a leader of the Champ Car World Series, Cosworth Engineering and the KV Racing Technology team, Kevin had an incredible impact on IndyCar.
“Our thoughts are with the Kalkhoven family and Kevin’s many friends and colleagues that are coping with his loss.”
Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp, and part of the IndyCar executive team, also spoke upon Kalkhoven’s passing.
“I met Kevin in 2013, and we quickly developed a personal friendship and a lot of common ground in racing,” recounted Miles.
“In many ways, winning that year’s Indianapolis 500 with Tony Kanaan must have been the highlight of his racing life. I’m sure he didn’t come back down to earth for many months.
“Kevin was a colourful, forceful personality who constantly brought new ideas to the table in an effort to grow the sport. I will miss him.”
In a big 12 months for Kalkhoven, he and Forsythe also bought Cosworth Engineering in November 2004, securing engine supply for the Champ Car field.
He only resigned as director and chairman of the Cosworth board on October 15 last year, at which time Hal Reisiger was elected chairman.
Reisiger praised Kalkhoven’s vision in transforming the business from a pure motorsport operation into one which now has tentacles in marine, defence, and aerospace.
“We were incredibly saddened to learn that Kevin passed away following his recent period of illness,” said Cosworth’s current CEO.
“Since his involvement with Cosworth in 2004, he had been a key source of inspiration for the business.
“His passion for motorsport is well documented, but he was also a visionary and pioneer of future technology.
“He was a leading force behind Cosworth’s evolution into a transportation technology business – and we honour his contribution, which will undoubtedly have a long-lasting beneficial legacy.
“On behalf of everyone at Cosworth, I send my sincere condolences to Kevin’s wife and family at this understandably difficult time.”
Speedcafe.com owner Brett ‘Crusher’ Murray has also paid tribute to Kalkhoven, having partnered with KVRT to field the Pirtek Team Murray entry for driver Matthew Brabham in the 2016 Indianapolis 500.