Holy ride, Batman When Pope John Paul II recently rolled through St. Louis enclosed by bullet-proof glass in his world-famous ``Popemobile,'' he was riding on Goodyear tires.
Without disclosing any structural secrets, a spokesman for the tire maker told the Akron Beacon Journal the company incorporates run-flat technology in certain ``prestige applications'' such as tires for security vehicles like the pope's, and even the military version of the Hummer. So in case the tires are shot out—hole-y tires?—they're likely constructed with a type of inner wall to keep 'em rolling.
Nonetheless, we were still surprised the pope, who hails from Rome, chooses to ride on ``Big Blue'' rather than Italy's home-grown Pirellis.
Oh no, a tire dealer
Sophie Rhys-Jones, who's being called a ``modern royal bride,'' may eventually marry into England's Royal Family, though reports say she and fiance Prince Edward aren't rushing into anything. Seems they've intermittently lived together (tch, tch), with Queen Mum's tacit approval.
Sophie's not an aristocrat, mind you, unless you proudly consider her dad's profession somewhat regal, as well you should. A former car salesman, he now works for a tire company selling in Eastern Europe. And you thought being a tire dealer can just be a royal pain.
This, that 'n the other
Watch it, buddy—``Road lope'' sounds like something you'd scream at someone while driving. But it has nothing to do with ``road rage,'' though it can get a farmer pretty ticked off. The term describes what happens when the tires on a tractor driven on a roadway, at cruising speed, begin to bounce. It occurs on different tractors at different speeds. If it'll make you feel any better, go ahead and shout it at someone.
Fore!—Here's a gimmick to consider at your dealership: For customers stuck waiting while their vehicles are serviced, a Ford Motor Co. Auto Care satellite service center in Tucson, Ariz., has a putting green next to the 10-bay building. The facility, operated by Holmes Tuttle Ford, offers six-day-a-week service and a comfy lounge where customers can observe and even interact with technicians. At least long enough to ask them if they'd mind stepping aside while they play through.
Fancy this acronym—We got an appeal in the mail to renew our membership in CRASH, which stands for ``Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways.'' The group said it gets ``no government funding.'' But word is it does the bidding of railroad interests, which historically have been in a pitched battle for years with the trucking industry. CRASH also has said some nasty things about retreaded truck tires. And no, we weren't a member, so no renewal is necessary.
Quote du jour—In Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum, the subject of ``humanizing'' global economics arose. National Public Radio said one very vocal proponent of super-rich people spreading their wealth around—while they're still alive—is media mogul Ted Turner. He got off a nifty sound bite in response to some of the moneyed who claim they'll give away their largesse after they're dead. To wit, he replied something like: ``Of course they will. At that point they don't really have a choice, do they?''
Tires were veddy good to him—An item in the business section of the Palm Beach Post said a buyer with "some pretty deep pockets" is in the process of snapping up the Jupiter Island compound in Florida of former self-professed "Tire King" Chuck Curcio who, until a couple years ago, ran the Sunshine State's mega-dealership, Tire Kingdom.
The newspaper said that if the 8.4-acre Curcio estate—with an asking price of $16.9 million—and a home next door that's for sale for $2.2 million are sold as a package, the deal would be in the double-digit millions. And that's well above Martin County's record of $6.75 million for a residential real estate transaction. The ocean-to-Intracoastal property includes the 21,000-sq.-ft. main house, a beach cottage, guest house, and tennis and basketball courts. Who says the tire business is a rough way to make a living?
Little-known (worthless?) facts—A recent Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine article by Robin Benzle entitled "Cool stuff about people and animals" was just that. Try these on for size: Banging your head against the wall uses 150 calories an hour. If you were to get a dollar every time you blinked, you'd make $6.25 million a year. In 1914, the French surgeon Daniel Molliere said the only function of a brain was to fill up the skull (things haven't changed much in 85 years). George Custer was last in his class of 34 at West Point.
As tax time fast approaches—Remember, the last word in Internal Revenue Service is "service."
Mind if they smoke?
It sounds a little James Bondian, but a 34-year-old South African inventor has designed what he thinks is the perfect foil to thwart carjackings. In his country during the first half of last year, more than 7,000 motorists, most of them around Johannesburg, were victims of that crime.
The device, described in an Agence France Presse report, shoots flames fromthe side of a car to protect the motorist against a would-be carjacker.
The system is activated at the push of a button or pedal, releasing liquid gas from a bottle that flows to two jets under the car doors where it is ignited by an electric spark. So far, the ``Blaster'' has been fitted on more than two dozen cars. A policeman, one of the first to install it, said it's a ``lot less extreme than a firearm.''
That depends on who's on the barbecue end. Inventor Charles Fourie, who's negotiating with a tire and exhaust company for distribution rights, said he's very proud his gadget ``cannot cause any damage to the car.'' However, it'll provide robbers with third- to first-degree burns. So how do you like your thug done—medium or well?
Welcome to 'reality'
When you attend a tire maker's annual dealer meeting, you get a stiff dose of ``reality'': golf every day—usually in a warm clime; catered meals; shopping excursions; and, for attendees with young kids, a ``vacation'' away from the rugrats.
For those gathering in Phoenix recently for the Michelin Americas Small Tires dealer meeting, there was some virtual reality thrown in, as well. At the Dealer Expo, attendees could climb behind the wheel of a ``Bibmobile,'' strap on a pair of goggles and take a virtual drive—on a set of Michelins, of course—along a mountain road, through good and bad weather.
After five minutes behind the wheel for a sometimes harrowing journey, hitting the links might seem tame. You know...it's tough work but somebody's got to do it.