AKRON (July 6, 2010) — Dirt Gripz Inc., an Akron-based tire distribution company founded by William and Bonnie Eaton, was dissolved in May after its supplier, Denman Tire Corp., filed for bankruptcy.
Dirt Gripz was founded in 2000 to market the Parnelli Jones on/off road light truck tire line, named after the 1963 Indianapolis 500 champion. Ms. Eaton said the tire line was “fairly successful” as it was the only radial of that tire type doing well in the market.
Ms. Eaton told Tire Business that Denman owned the molds and since the tire maker's bankruptcy filing, Dirt Gripz reached a settlement with Denman´s trustees to resolve business issues.
Under the settlement, if anyone purchases the Parnelli Jones tire molds, they would have to get permission from Mr. Jones for the use of his name on future tire lines, Ms. Eaton said.
Mr. Eaton, a longtime tire industry veteran, died June 22 at age 76 after a battle with cancer. After retiring—during his career he worked for the former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. and old General Tire & Rubber Co.—he helped market the Parnelli Jones line for Progressive Custom Wheel in Riverside, Calif., building on a longtime friendship he had developed with Mr. Jones. When Progressive exited the tire business, Mr. Eaton and his wife took over marketing the Parnelli Jones private label through their Dirt Gripz firm.