“Lifetime achievement” is a an appropriate award for Keith Crain, industry icon that he is as publisher of Automotive News. A biographical video and testimonials by his friends Roger Penske, race car driver and owner of Penske Automotive, and Rick Snyder, governor of Michigan, told the story. The occasion was Crain’s receiving the Washington Auto Show’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the dinner sponsored by Comcast Spotlight and Cox Automotive in his honor.
The quintessential car enthusiast, Crain became publisher of Automotive News when his father bought the company in 1971. The younger Crain bought AutoWeek in 1937 and made it into a glossy magazine. He is still publisher of Automotive News, is active in Detroit as a community builder, community change agent and arts advocate, and is chairman of the board of the College of Creative Studies. His media empire encompasses 54 brands in 13 locations. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2014.
“Keith is old, he’s brash, and he tells it like it is,” said Penske.
With that background, it is clear that Crain is no ordinary leader in the automobile industry, but an extraordinary one. Indeed his exuberant persona radiated enthusiasm throughout the convention center ballroom where the dinner was held.
“The auto industry is the most exciting industry in the world,” Crain said. “I have always loved people in this business, whether they were dealers, suppliers or OEMs.” He recalled arriving in Detroit in 1971, just before the oil crisis of 1973, that preceded a worse oil crisis in 1976.
“The auto industry reacted very quickly and started building the worst cars you ever saw,” said Crain. “And now it’s starting again.
“We’re on the verge of this disruption, between autonomous vehicles and electrification”, he said, “and nobody’s going to have a clue what’s going to happen in the next 20 years.”
As publisher of Automotive News, Crain said, “I’ve met some of the most fascinating people in the world, from Henry Ford to Enzo Ferrari to Roger Penske.”
Crain is not just an automotive journalist; he is passionate about cars.
“I love cars, I love driving cars, I love the experience,” he said. “I have hot rods, classic cars, a ’39 Bugatti and race cars.”
And Crain doesn’t just love cars; he loves the business of cars.
“There is still no better industry to start off as a salesman or service manager and get a piece of the dealership and become incredibly successful,” said Crain. “There are always going to be cars and car dealers to sell and service them”, he said.Download Bulletin PDF