WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — The setting, indeed, seemed quite appropriate.
As the engines of race cars squealed in the distance, Claudio Zanardo, CEO of Pirelli Tire North America Inc., and his right-hand man, Ian Coke, director of quality and chief technical director of the Pirelli Tire North America, relaxed on leather furniture in a cozy lounge, set up for the Lamborghini racing teams that would compete later that day.
The pop-up lounge, on the grounds of historic Watkins Glen International Racetrack in upstate New York, is plastered with advertisements for watchmaker Roger DuBuis. One of those watches can be yours for as little as $40,000, or if you're really in a spending spree, $100,000-plus.
Two Lamborghinis are parked at the entrance to the lounge — both fitted with Pirelli tires — while business at the adjacent Lamborghini souvenir shop is brisk, price be damned.
It was the perfect mix for Pirelli & C. S.p.A., the Milan-based tire maker, who has been in auto racing for more than a century of its 150 years in business.
The collaboration between Pirelli and Lamborghini dates back to 1963, the year in which Ferruccio Lamborghini asked Pirelli to supply the tires for the first car of his new company, the 350 GTV.
Four decades later, Zanardo said, Pirelli tires are positioned toward "the premium customer, the prestige customer."
"That part of the market is our market," he said, "so we need to serve these customers. We offer the best product in terms of quality for the right car, with the perfect technology, the perfect strategy."