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How legends of risk taking are managing market meltdown

With huge market swings happening around the world, many professional risk takers are losing their shirts. We got some advice from another type of risk taker: lndyCar legends, who have been able to manage high volatility both on and off the track. From racing icons Roger Penske and Mario Andretti to second-generation driver Graham Rahal, these high-speed heroes have learned to handle whatever is thrown their way.

"You got to roll with the punches. You can't do too much with the things that are out of your control," said Mario Andretti. The legendary Indy 500 champion has transitioned into an entrepreneur with business interests, including 37 gas stations as part of a wholesale fuel distribution business.

"Sometimes you have to take risks and not all of them are well calculated," said Andretti, reflecting upon a career filled with ups and downs. When asked what his biggest money mistake was, he laughed and said, "Too many to mention!"

A lot of Andretti's success has come from partnering with other experts. His oil business was created through a partnership with M.J. Castelo, a former Texaco marketing executive. His winery came to be through an investment joined by Joe Antonini, the former CEO of Kmart. "I'm surrounded by wonderful people, my managing firm and my staff. I couldn't be happier. We're good."

Roger Penske at Poconos Raceway
Jessica Golden | CNBC
Roger Penske at Poconos Raceway

Roger Penske, the CEO of publicly traded Penske Automotive Group (PAG), has a different take on the current stock turmoil. "We've seen a deterioration over the last week in our stock, but our business model is strong." The company is the world's second-largest car dealership, with over 300 retail franchises. PAG stock spent most of August in the $52-$54 price range, before tanking to $47.49 on Monday.

"Retail automotive really leads the retail marketplace," said Penske. "We find out world problems that affect us here in the U.S." Penske is taking a more conservative approach to the decline, saying, "We want to be safe and secure with our capital." The company is "going to press forward as all good companies will" in terms of running their business and acquisitions.

Graham Rahal is a second-generation driver, and is the son of former Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal. The two of them are owners of a large retail auto business. "Our car dealerships have been on fire the last couple of years." Rahal also discussed the sensitivity of racing to the economy. "I tell people all the time, I don't think people understand racing well enough to get this ... using an example of the New York Giants: If some small or even big company doesn't sponsor them, they will still play football." That's very much the opposite of racing, where sponsorship is so key. Rahal's sponsors this year include Steak 'N Shake and Maxim magazine. "Our job is always to work very, very hard to get them as good as a return on their investment as possible."

Rahal much prefers to buy and sell cars than stocks. "You can keep a car a couple of months and in some cases make a profit of a million dollars. You can't do that in the stock market unless you are taking a huge chance."

Rahal's collection includes an Acura MDX, Acura NSX, 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, 2015 BMW M4 and a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder, although he says he changes them frequently. He's already had 100 cars at the ripe young age of 26. He'll sell any of them, except a 1964 Mini Cooper that he restored for his high school project.

"Having money in the stock market is great, but I don't get to enjoy that." Rahal much preferred the buying and selling of a car because "I get to drive it, and I get to enjoy it."