Penske for president?
Not a bad suggestion. In honoring racing legend and auto executive Roger Penske last night at posh dinner in Pebble Beach, Calif., Mercedes-Benz host Geoff Day tossed out the idea as a tribute, not so much of a campaign kick off. But as far as we know, no one yelled back "Bachmann," "Obama" or "Romney" in protest.
Penske is a model of brains and steely resolve. It wouldn't be the first time he was urged into politics. A couple of years ago, Penske, a dashing, silver-haired Mr. Fix-It, was being pushed to run for mayor of Detroit, a city that could truly use his executive talents. He declined.
Last night in presenting the "star driver" award, Day called Penske "a hero, a legend ... an icon." His team has won 15 Indianapolis 500s. Penske, among his many businesses, operates some of the biggest U.S. Mercedes dealerships.
Penske, who grew up in Cleveland, said his father took him to the Indy race for the first time in 1951, and from that point on he was hooked.
Day asked Penske, the 1961 U.S. Auto Club champion the perennial question: Is it the car or the driver. Penske said qualifying is dependent on the car but over the length of the actual race, driving skill makes all the difference.
Mercedes gives the award each year to a person who is "driving the industry," Day said. Maybe Penske should be driving the country.
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