AKRON—One of auto racing's biggest names just entered the private brand tire business. Parnelli Jones, 1963 winner of the Indianapolis 500 and a racing legend for more than 30 years, announced at an Akron press conference that he is lending his name to a new tire line—the Parnelli Jones tire line—to be distributed exclusively by Progressive Custom Wheel.
It's the first time a major wheel company has distributed its own private brand tire, according to Larry Kingsland, co-founder of the Riverside, Calif.-based wheel maker.
Initially, the new line of tires, made by Kelly-Springfield Tire Co., will come in three styles:
The S-series (sport) line will have 13 sizes with 50 and 60 aspect ratios;
The P-series (performance) line will have 20 sizes with 50, 55 and 60 aspect ratios in directional and asymmetrical H- and W-speed ratings;
The LT-series (light truck) will have 11 sizes with all-terrain tread designs for two- or four-wheel-drive applications; and
The R-series (radical) line will have seven H-rated sizes with 40 and 50 aspect ratios in 17-, 18-and 20-inch sizes.
The R-series will be the focus for the new private brand, according to Mr. Jones.
"I've always been considered something of a rebel, especially during my Indy days,'' Mr. Jones said. "This tire brand reflects that same rebel spirit.''
The exposure Mr. Jones' name commands, will help drive sales for Progressive's 55 nationwide warehouses, according to Bill Eaton, program administrator.
The new program hopes to cater to the growing 17- through 20-inch- size market, as well as the 50-million racing enthusiasts, 72-percent of whom are "very brand loyal,'' Mr. Eaton said.