In our new socially distanced world, what better sport could there be than one whose goal is to get as far away from your competitor as quickly as possible?
While motorsports around the globe experienced canceled or delayed seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, racing has ramped up in the second half of the year.
And for the tire companies affiliated with the sport, it's back to the grind.
Racing tire design is the ultimate in tire engineering, and many things learned and developed in the process filter down to other tire lines.
For tire companies supplying tires to a race series, sponsorship is much more than a brand name on a sign. You have to get your hands dirty, and if you really want to build brand respect, you have to love it.
"I think all but one of our people in R&D (research and development) participate in the sport of motorcycling," Mike Buckley, senior vice president for sales and marketing for Dunlop Motorcycle Tires, a unit of Sumitomo Rubber North America Inc., said (See story on page 1).
"That's a huge differentiator. This sport, it's a brotherhood. You've got to walk the walk and talk the talk. All of the sales people ride. The product management people ride. The customer service people ride.
"That's a huge difference when you're talking to consumers. Right or wrong, if you don't say the right thing, they lose respect for you."
Prior to the Indianapolis 500, which was moved to August from May this year because of the pandemic, Cara Adams, director of race tire engineering and production for Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Firestone Racing, mentioned several times how excited her team was to be back racing.
"It's great to be out racing, but sad to be out here without the fans," Ms. Adams said at the time.
The Firestone team was busy leading up to and during the race. Race teams carry about 10 sets of tires each, but only six to eight sets of wheels. So, when a set is pulled off a car, the Firestone team mounts new tires on the wheels. The company brought around 4,400 Firestone Firehawk racing tires for the event.
"Here at Firestone, Harvey Firestone really realized the importance of racing that very first (Indy 500). The racing platform provided the opportunity for a brand not only to provide a proving ground for our tire development but also for a promotional platform for the tires," she said.
She quoted Mr. Firestone's famous words, "Win on Sunday. Sell on Monday."
Enthusiasm and hard work are common traits you find throughout the tire industry. Racing is much the same. Motorsports offer a chance for a company to show off the quality of its tires, and it allows them to reach a like-minded audience who really knows what they are talking about.
When you can prove yourself on the track and to racing fans, you may just find a customer for life.