In the realm of motorsports, certain cars transcend the realm of mere machines, becoming enduring symbols of innovation and the relentless pursuit of speed. Amidst the pantheon of such legendary vehicles, one often-overlooked gem is the Penske PC16, a car that left an indelible mark on the career of renowned driver Al Unser and showcased the remarkable design acumen of the Penske team.

The Forgotten Car

The Penske PC16 emerged in 1990, an era characterized by a seismic shift in IndyCar design philosophy. As the sport embraced turbocharged engines, teams grappled with harnessing the immense power unleashed by these technological marvels. Many solutions were explored, but it was Penske who unearthed a unique and innovative approach that would redefine the boundaries of IndyCar design.

The Power of Simplicity

Unlike its intricate and complex rivals, the PC16 espoused a refreshingly straightforward design ethos. At the heart of this approach was the concept of reducing drag and increasing efficiency. While other teams opted for aerodynamically convoluted bodywork, Penske engineers meticulously streamlined every inch of the car, creating a sleek and clean silhouette. The result was a car that slipped through the air with remarkable ease, maximizing speed and minimizing fuel consumption.

Hidden Brilliance

Beyond its sleek exterior, the PC16 concealed an array of ingenious design features that belied its apparent simplicity. One such innovation was the use of a perforated rear wing. By meticulously drilling small holes into the wing's surface, the Penske team created a vortex generator that enhanced downforce while reducing drag. This subtle but effective modification underscored the team's commitment to pushing the boundaries of aerodynamic efficiency.

Engineering Precision

Another defining characteristic of the PC16 was its immaculate engineering precision. Every component, from the intricately designed suspension system to the aerodynamically optimized body panels, was meticulously crafted to the highest standards. This relentless attention to detail not only ensured reliability but also contributed to the car's overall performance.

Unser's Magic Touch

The PC16 found its perfect match in the inimitable talents of Al Unser. A four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and one of the most successful drivers in IndyCar history, Unser possessed an uncanny ability to extract maximum performance from any car he drove. Behind the wheel of the PC16, Unser's innate feel for the machine's intricacies allowed him to unlock its full potential.

A Lasting Legacy

Despite its impressive credentials, the Penske PC16 remains an unsung hero in the annals of IndyCar history. Overshadowed by more headline-grabbing cars, the PC16 has been consigned to relative obscurity. Nonetheless, its legacy endures as a testament to the ingenuity that defined the golden age of IndyCar racing.

Penske's Forgotten Gem

While Roger Penske's name is synonymous with some of the most iconic cars in motorsports history, the PC16 stands as a hidden gem in his esteemed collection. Its innovative design, meticulous engineering, and Unser's unparalleled driving prowess combine to create a car that is both understated and exceptional.


The Penske PC16 serves as a reminder that true innovation often lies in the pursuit of simplicity and the relentless refinement of every detail. Its story is a testament to the brilliance of Roger Penske, the ingenuity of his design team, and the artistry of Al Unser. Though its place in history may be overshadowed by more celebrated cars, the PC16 remains an enduring symbol of the indomitable spirit that drives the quest for speed.

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