Survivors, tire style
It can't be said enough: In Vegas you see it all. And at Toyo Tires (U.S.A.) Corp.'s annual dealer meeting there Oct. 31, attendees got a gander at perhaps more than they wished to see.
Held in conjunction with the International Tire Expo, the tire maker took the opportunity to reveal two hairy guys and three new tires, including the Open Country A/T all-terrain tire, M-147 steer tire, and the industry's first 23-inch performance truck tire—an addition to Toyo's Proxes S/T line.
But the "crowning" event at the Hawaiian-themed event was—how do we put this delicately?—a couple Toyo execs wearing grass skirts. (Did they lose a bet or what?) It was a "survivor" kind of thing. Wearing face paint, flowers around their necks and scant little else were (in the photo below) Gregg Vandermark, left, Toyo's manager of performance events and activities, and Ron Gilbert, director of commercial products, shown putting the new Toyo tires on display.
In keeping with the theme, Earl Knoper, senior vice president of marketing, said Toyo is "committed to independent dealers...when you succeed, we succeed. That's a lot better than merely surviving."
Based on what you see in the photo, we offer an unbiased observation: Although Toyo's slogan is "Tires that fit you," that's more than we can say for those grass skirts. Has "business casual" attire gone too far?
This, that 'n the other
Senior moment?—"I used to need something to alter my mind. Now it alters itself." (Spoken by a TB senior staffer who shall remain nameless for his own protection.)
Loser's lament—An astute observer noted that no one ever says, "It's only a game," when their team is winning.
Speaking of losing—The phrase "close but no cigar" probably originated with carnival games of skill which gave out cigars as prizes. But if you didn't hit the mark, you were....
Missing in action—We saw the strangest headline on an Internet news service: "Virgin wants free computer equipment returned."
And no, we weren't logging onto the National Enquirer's Web site. The story said that, after just six months, Virgin Entertainment Group was taking back computer equipment and Internet services it gave to 10,000 customers in exchange for the right to track their online activities.
Get outta da way—The "vanity" license plate we spotted on a sport-utility vehicle read: "RollEM."
In the "rough"—Speaking to pro golfer Sandy Lyle, a reporter asked: "What do you think of Tiger Woods?" to which he seriously replied: "I don't know. I've never played there."
Caesar's salad days—Here's a quote, attributed to Ev Rewominn, that seems appropriate for the recent holiday season: "Veni, Vedi, Visa...I came. I saw. I did a little shopping."
A spot of...coffee?—Just wonderin': Are Lipton Tea employees allowed to take coffee breaks?
Fashion horses—"They're a fashion-conscious lot in Zambia," observed an item in the Financial Mail of South Africa. It said an advertising campaign for Goodyear tires "promises buyers a free Goodyear cap including free fitting and balancing."
Balanced at a jaunty angle, we presume.
Look out, she's gonna blow—Among the "hottest and most innovative" automotive products recognized at the 2000 Specialty Equipment Market Association/Tire Association of North America trade show in Las Vegas last fall was something touted as the "best new performance-street product."
Marketed by Nitrous Express Inc., it's called a "Remote Bottle Opener," guaranteed not to affect an engine's horsepower output or cause the "surging sensation associated with current designs." We thought maybe it had something to do with opening beer bottles from a safe distance.
Baby, you're grounded!
We've all heard the jokes about dead people voting in Chicago (and Florida?), and Internal Revenue Service computers sending taxpayers threatening letters over mistakenly huge amounts of money owed the government.
A family in Frederick, Md., has an equally maddening story. According to the ABC News Web site, Marcos W. Vargas was minding his own business when he received a letter just after his birthday telling him that unless he paid off his $340 fine, he would lose his driver's license. The only problem was, Marcos is only 1 year old—and had already missed his day in traffic court.
His father, William T. Vargas, took the lad to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) office to set the matter straight, asking: "What kind of computer system generates this type of threatening letter to infants?"
Officials explained that the confusion was due to the state identification card obtained for the baby by his parents when he was 4 months old, ABC said. Oh, and a man cited for driving without a license gave the name Marcos Vargas to police, so when they ran a check on him, the baby's data came up.
JoAnn Fleishell, assistant manager of the MVA branch office, promised the mistake would be corrected, pointing out the seriousness of it: "This could ruin him for a long time. He could have stayed suspended forever. Once a notice of suspension goes out, it stays on the record."
Does anyone trust computers enough to think the tyke's problem is fixed? He may be riding his bike well into his 40s.
Maybe they won't survive
If the continuing saga of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s tire recall has done anything, it's shown motorists how important proper tire inflation and maintenance really is.
It also has indicated that tire safety is a problem not relegated only to the U.S. A study of 2,000 drivers conducted by the United Kingdom's Kwik-Fit Holdings P.L.C. discovered that almost half of all Scot motorists are driving with dangerously worn tires, according to The Mirror newspaper. After offering a free tire check-up, the company found 45 percent had tires below the legal minimum of 1.6 mm tread depth—the recommended limit is 2 mm.
Needless to say, the survey, done in conjunction with "National Tyre Safety Week," shocked road safety campaigners who, the newspaper said, believe motorists are putting other drivers' lives in jeopardy. A spokesman for the RAC Foundation said many motorists erroneously believe tires are not an essential safety item when, in fact, "they are absolutely vital."
Meanwhile, a study out of Australia noted that Aussie motorists are increasingly apathetic about tire safety, with 76 percent of that nation's cars deemed technically unroadworthy or unsafe due to the condition of their tires. The "Safe Tyre Indicator" study found tread wear and over or under inflation were the root causes.
Of the motorists interviewed, 57 percent checked their tire inflation once every three months, while 14 percent said they never checked it.
So when CBS-TV does the next installment of its hit "Survivor" show, this time in Australia's Outback, maybe it could just follow some Aussies around to see how they survive driving on bald tires.