Keith Crain wins lifetime achievement award at D.C. auto show

Roger Penske, left, with Keith Crain, along with and John Ourisman, chairman of the Washington Auto Show. Photo credit: Washington Auto Show 2018

WASHINGTON — Six years ago Keith Crain, the chairman of Crain Communications Inc. and editor-in-chief of Automotive News, presented Roger Penske with the Washington Auto Show’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

On Thursday night the tables were turned when the chairman of Penske Automotive Group made a surprise appearance at the D.C. Convention Center to present the 2018 version of the award to Crain.

“He’s bold, brash and tells it like it is,” Penske said, referring to his friend of 50 years as a “visionary.”

The award is given annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the auto industry.

“I have always loved cars and the business of automobiles,” Crain said in his acceptance speech. “It is the most exciting industry in the world.”

Crain has been an influential figure in the auto industry for nearly 50 years as a reporter, editor and publishing executive. He personally knows many of the movers and shakers in the auto industry. His achievements range from breaking the news of Lee Iacocca’s firing by Henry Ford II in 1978 to his role in creating the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 1989. He continues to write a weekly column for Automotive News.

True to his brash character, Crain noted that the U.S. auto industry “built the worst cars for several decades” and was able to turn things around thanks to government-mandated fuel economy standards and the computer, which “finally allowed them to figure out how to make cars and engines that the public liked and worked.”



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