Spare the rod, spoil the ... He's not even old enough to remember the golden age he's trying to make a buck off of, but that hasn't stopped this pompadoured (is there such a word?) impresario.
Hot Rod—that is the gentleman's real name since he had it legally changed—is in the business of marketing hot rod products, from actual '50s-style bolt-on parts to the stuff of which memories are made. That means memorabilia, clothing and music, to name a few.
A story in Hotrod & Performance magazine outlined the 37-year-old's "passion" for the Fabulous Fifties and all things chopped and channeled. His 4,000-sq.-ft. store is in Fontana in Southern California, a longtime mecca for hot rods, rodders and rebuilders.
The shop area in which he formerly built cars has become "Hot Rod's Hangout," where rockabilly-style bands do their thing on stage alongside a soda bar and big dance floor.
Back 14 years ago, a lot of his friends laughed at him, he said, wanting to know why he was "doing whitewalls" and painting cars in purples, reds and candies. But in the last five years a trend has emerged. Some afficianados are even back to building what are called "beater rods," made to look the way they were in the '50s.
Sounds like he's struck gold. Our only quandary is what to call him. "Mr. Rod" is a tad formal and "Hot" sounds too pretentious. Now that "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" is again just Prince, how about "The Entrepreneur Now Known as Hot Rod"?
A tale of two tire makers
It's the kind of stuff on which PR writers earn their keep. Just depends on which side of the ax you're on.
At Akron-based Goodyear, a press release said the company "took another step in its effort to integrate" the Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres Ltd. operations "with the announcement that it will rationalize passenger and light truck tire production within the company's joint venture with Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. in Europe."
Now flip on over to the press release on the same subject issued by Dunlop Tyres UK (now operated by Goodyear). It opened by stating that "car and light truck tyre production at its Birmingham (United Kingdom) plant will be phased out by the end of this year. It is anticipated that up to 600 jobs will be affected with redundancies progressively taking place from September onwards."
The key words here: "rationalize" and "redundancies."
Which sounds better to a worker facing the impending doom: "I've been rationalized," or "I'm redundant"? Or how about the ever-popular, "I've been downsized"? Any way you slice it, Nigel, you're out.
Hold the pepperoni
Pizzas: They're round, black. Black?
A blaze May 11 in a bin of old tires and barrels outside Kaufman Tires in Carrollwood, Fla., sent smoke billowing across a highway, enveloping nearby businesses, according to the Tampa Tribune. The acrid, burning rubber forced about 30 patrons at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant to throw away their food and flee.
Battalion chief Craig Lynn told the newspaper that burning rubber sends off a toxic smoke that contaminates food and, because of the "poisonous gas," all open food at the restaurant had to be thrown away. The pizza shop's manager estimated he lost between $200 and $400 in discarded pizza and customer refunds after smoke slipped into the restaurant through air ducts for the ovens.
Next on the menu: a new 17-inch, extra-chewy pizza with a 40,000-mile warranty. We'll take double polyester on ours, hold the anchovies and steel belts, please.
This 'n that
Na na na na, goodbye—They had a rollicking time at the Automotive Service Association (ASA) convention in Mobile Bay, Ala. At least it looked that way from pics that appeared in the May issue of the ASA's AutoInc. magazine.
There was a shot taken on the beach while a musical entourage identified as "Na Na Sha" played "good ol' rock-n-roll." Ya think they're any relation to the '50s-style group "Sha Na Na"? Maybe cousins.
Back to Indy?—Remember when Goodyear dropped out of Indycar racing last year, basically relinquishing that territory to Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s Firestone brand?
Well, the tire maker isn't quite out of Indy. It ran ads during the recent Indianapolis 500 broadcast. Hmm. No offense to the U.S. Postal Service, but it makes us want to hum a few bars of Steve Miller's "Fly Like An Eagle."
Nerd alert—Our sister publication, Rubber & Plastics News, ran an ad from chemical maker CK Witco that beckoned, "Meet some bona fide tread heads."
It was catchy: Four woeful-looking individuals (see photo at right) wearing hoodshirts posed in the center of a big tire. The ad said "these guys now work for you" doing research and development to find the "next generation tire."
(And it looks like they've been up all night doing that.)
They're probably no relation to the "Dead Heads" of Grateful Dead fame, though from the picture it looks like these tread heads have that same glazed-over look.
The poor guy didn't have a chance.
Race driver Jacques Villeneuve probably had high hopes as he competed in the May 7 Spanish Grand Prix in Montmelo, Spain, except for one little problem: his pit crew had put his front tires on backwards. Quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, British American Racing (BAR) team engineer Jock Clear lamented, "Jacques' car was impossible to drive. It's our fault."
Mr. Villeneuve, who helped found the BAR team last year, was in sixth place when forced to quit with engine trouble after coming out of his first pit stop. Until then, he had been driving on left and right tires that had been inadvertently switched.
Don't you hate when that happens? Uh, guys, does the word "asymmetric" ring a bell?
"The car's equilibrium and top speed were affected right away," Mr. Clear explained, noting the crew expected problems "sooner or later."
After the race, Mr. Clear told reporters: "Jacques doesn't know yet. I'm guessing you'll tell him."
Guess he didn't know if he was coming or going. Maybe, as one TB wag suggested, he should have run the race backwards. Nonetheless, heads as well as tires probably rolled once Jacques got wind of it.