Inaugural Walter P. Chrysler Legacy Gala Honors Lee Iacocca, Jay Leno, Richard Petty and Virgil Exner July 24


Auburn Hills, Mich., July 26, 2010 — A sold-out crowd of more than 570 guests attended the inaugural Walter P. Chrysler Legacy Gala on July 24, benefiting the nonprofit Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich.

The event celebrated 85 years of Chrysler heritage and honored four automotive and entertainment icons with the Walter P. Chrysler Legacy Award: Former Chrysler Chairman and CEO Lee Iacocca; “Tonight Show” Host and Car Collector Jay Leno; NASCAR Champion Richard Petty; and former Chrysler Design Chief Virgil Exner, who was honored posthumously and represented by his son Virgil Exner, Jr.

The Legacy Gala was also the official launch of the Walter P. Chrysler Legacy Campaign with Museum Foundation Board of Directors Chairman Frank Fountain announcing that $1 million in contributions have been raised to date.  The campaign is a multi-year, multi-million initiative designed to ensure the Museum’s long-term viability.

“The Legacy Gala was a coming out party, of sorts, to tell the world we’re now a nonprofit, dedicated as ever to showcasing Chrysler’s rich heritage for decades to come,” said Fountain. “What better way than with a joyous celebration of decades of creativity and ingenuity that began with the inspiration and passion of one very enterprising man?  This was a grand occasion to salute the achievements of four outstanding gentlemen and welcome a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of current and retired Chrysler executives, auto enthusiasts and industry leaders, as well as our colleagues throughout the community to our magnificent Museum.”

The evening began with a Michigan-inspired strolling dinner throughout the Museum’s three floors featuring a menu created by renowned caterers, 2Unique of Royal Oak,Mich.  The fresh fare capitalized on seasonal ingredients grown and produced within the state.

The festivities moved to the Legacy Gala Theatre – a tent adjacent to the Museum – for the inaugural Walter P. Chrysler Legacy Circle induction ceremony, hosted by news anchor Devin Scillian of WDIV-TV4. Following Fountain’s welcome and announcement of the Museum Foundation’s Legacy Campaign launch, each inductee was honored with a video spotlighting his personal and professional achievements, and introduced into the Legacy Circle by gentlemen who are VIPs in their own right:

Inducting Iacocca was Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, Chrysler Group LLC;

Inducting Leno was Fred Diaz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ram Truck Brand, Chrysler Group LLC;

Petty was inducted by Frank Ewasyshyn, Board of Directors, Walter P. Chrysler Museum Foundation and Retired Executive Vice President – Manufacturing, Chrysler Group LLC; and

Inducting Exner was Ralph Gilles, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dodge Car Brand and Senior Vice President of Product Design, Chrysler Group LLC and Board of Directors, Walter P. Chrysler Museum Foundation.

Rounding out the event were silent and live auctions of extraordinary items, including A Day With Richard Petty and A Private Tour of Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage and Tickets to “The Tonight Show.”

The piece de resistance was a full length performance donated by Jay Leno for the occasion.

For additional information about the Museum, please visit