Dieter Zetsche is on TV telling the world how ,DaimlerChrysler brings customers the best American and German know-how. But if the global giant really wants to talk to the folks deep in the heart of NASCAR nation, it should give Richard Petty another call.
Stock car racing's greatest living legend -- who won 200 NASCAR races in Plymouths, Dodges and other cars in a 32-year career -- showed up July 1 at a Daytona Beach, Fla., shopping mall parking lot to help Chrysler executives announce plans to revive the legendary Dodge Challenger muscle car in 2008.
Petty, known to his legions of followers as "The King," was asked by journalists whether true-blue Americans should be worried about the creeping German influence in their Chryslers, Dodges and Jeeps.
The seven-time Daytona 500 winner didn't miss a beat.
"I don't think the average person looks at DaimlerChrysler as being a foreign company," Petty said.
"Look at the Chrysler 300 SRT -- the engine is made in Mexico, the transmission is German (made in the United States from a Mercedes design), and the cars are put together in Canada. We've got world cars now."