Can Detroit Shine like a Show Car?

Article excerpt

PENSKE'S NEW CHALLENGE

ROGER PENSKE HAS WON the checkered flag as a Grand Prix driver, forged the biggest dynasty in racing, and built a $14-billion automotive industrial, retail and entertainment empire, Penske Corp. Now, he faces a new challenge: making Detroit glisten like a show car under a glaring spotlight as it hosts Super Bowl XL at Ford Field next February 5.

It'll be tough for Detroit, with the threat of frigid weather, the stigma of a disappointing Super Bowl in suburban Pontiac 23 years ago, and the fact that the city, which has lost more than half its population since the '50s, is flirting with receivership. But supporters believe they have an insuperable champion in the silver-haired 68 year old chairing the host committee.

Detroit was in line for the Super Bowl after the Ford family, owners of the Lions, promised to build a new stadium. Penske sealed the deal with the NFL at a game site-selection meeting in 2000. "There's a comfort level that he gives them from his own accomplishments in a competitive sport," says former mayor Dennis Archer. …