Karges puts pedal to the metal as new Petersen director
By Larry Edsall
Some of you will recognize Terry Karges' name from his work as vice president for sales and marketing at Roush Performance, where he helped Jack Roush produce not only aftermarket parts but turn-key Mustangs and other high-performance vehicles.
But what you may not know about Karges is that he grew up in southern California car and racing culture and worked in marketing management positions at the Disneyland, Sea World and Marine World amusement parks.
Now, Karges gets to combine his experience and passions as executive director of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Pity poor Terry: After two days entering his new office, he was forced to represent the Petersen at the various classic car activities on the Monterey Peninsula.
"The Petersen's been operating for nearly 20 years," he said. "There is an experienced staff, terrific people who are dedicated, and one of the top curators in the world."
Karges' job is to make sure that staff has the resources it needs.
In his first meeting with the Petersen team, Karges asked "what have you wanted to do or would like to do but have not been able to do, in terms of education, cars, the collection? Let's put it together and go find sponsors or donors or benefactors and share the dream."
Karges notes that the Petersen was established to be an educational institution, not just a static car and automotive lifestyle museum.
Asked about the LeMay -- America's (self-proclaimed) Car Museum that recently opened in an exotic new building in Tacoma, Washington -- Karges says he sees the new museum not as a rival but as a complimentary enterprise.
"It has an incredible structure and a very large collection," he said. "But we're in a different category. We have a different kind of mission. And the geography plays an important part in that.
"We're in the world's largest car market and are the home of car culture for America. This is where most of the premier hot-rodders grew up, and there's the racing history.
"And yet we're not just a southern California museum," Karges said, "but its a number of those things that make it special.
"I also think one of the things that is our task is to let more people know we're here, to emphasize the education part."
Karges says the museum's ongoing program of teaching school children about the automobile and its role in American and southern California culture is important, but that the educational outreach needs to expand to include "professional education," for example, "an automotive journalism symposium, a symposium on automotive design, on automotive photography.
"And why not host a Cars-and-Coffee gathering [for classic and exotic car owners] here every Saturday morning?" he wonders.
Karges also wants to be sure the Petersen participates in activities during the Los Angeles Auto Show and stages special events in conjunction with major southern California auto racing weekends.
He plans to tap his old friends in the tourism industry to make sure that people in Europe and Asian know all that the museum has to offer and include a visit on their travel itineraries.
"Terry is a very well qualified businessman with a strong management background that the board of directors feels will do a terrific job as the Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director," said board chairman Steven E. Young. "In addition to being a Southern California native familiar with our unique car culture, Terry also has valuable experience leading sales and marketing operations for major California theme parks, which makes him the best candidate to lead the museum in unique and exciting ways."
The Petersen museum, located on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, was founded by Robert and Margie Petersen. Robert Petersen was the founder of a publishing group that included Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazines.
Karges was hired to replace Buddy Pepp, who is retiring after two years as the museum's executive director.
Karges moves to southern California after working most recently as vice president of sales and marketing for Venchurs Inc., a Michigan-based automotive supplier.
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