MMR Blog

My Word: Do You Know Your Tire’s Birthday?

Posted on June 12, 2014 Comments (0)

by Denise McCluggage

When one writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column as I did in a previous life that writer looks forward to the special weeks someone has devised, such as the recent Tire Week. A special week hands a writer a subject and means one fewer had to be dreamed up to fill the quota of 52. Yippee for tires.

I particularly liked Tire Week because I believe sincerely that tires are as important as you can get in a vehicle. Yes, they keep the bloody thing off the ground, but that’s not what earns them their kingship. What does that is this: Tires serve as the sole communicator of all drivers’ hopes, wishes and intentions from the vehicle to the surface of the earth. Nothing else can do that.

Want to turn? The steering wheel merely aims your rolling front wheels. It is the tires taking little bites of the road in that new direction that result in a turn. Want to stop? The brakes slow the turning of the tires. It is the tires’ friction with the road’s surface that leads to a stop. Want to get rolling? Apply pressure to the gas pedal and the car’s running gear turns the drive wheels. Again the friction between the tires and the road surface causes your vehicle to get underway and keeps it rolling as you feed it fuel. If that grip on the road is absent because of ice, gravel or too much speed you do not do what you intended. Tires and friction are necessary.

I felt a bit guilty not writing something about tires this past Tire Week so I decided to do a column, if not for a newspaper, at least for the medium gradually strangling newspapers. And I decided to concentrate on an aspect of tires that most people are surprised to hear about.

Tires have a birthdate. Tires have a use span. Tires have a shelf life. And it behooves tire users to know about such things so that they can be wise buyers and safe users of the most important items on their cars.

Many people know enough to keep their tires inflated to the proper pressure, checking no less than once a month when the tire is cold—maybe driven a mile or less to the service station. But it’s really nice to have an accurate pressure gauge at home and even a neat compressor to pump up a non-compliant tire. These people know how to check to the depth of the tread with a coin (or how to Google it) and to look for damaging curb strikes on the sidewalls. And for cracks on those sidewalls.

I applaud them. But they are often at a loss when I say “How old are your tires?” Oh, put on three years ago. Big sale. Saved a ton. Did you? How old were they when you bought them? They were new!

To your car, maybe. But when were they born?

Blank look. Just ask the tires.

Right off the rack a tire can be ready to be scrapped. Maybe. Did you ever buy a packet of shiny new yellow pencils with round red erasers only to get them home and discover the erasers are as hard as little rocks? Good for smearing the mark of a #2 pencil but not for erasing anything. Pencils are cheaper than tires but their rubber is subject to similar time limitations. Tire rubber gets hard and that grip to turn, stop and start is dangerously compromised. The tread—as sharp as it looks, as deeply as it measures—is not what counts. Age is. And history.

Controversy reigns. Tire dealers have their own policy of how old a tire needs to be before they will not sell it. Tires warehoused in controlled climate and humidity are “younger” than tires mounted and in use or displayed in sun-struck racks at a shop. Be aware that laws have been discussed governing maximum tire ages but none have been passed. A tire living outdoors in a hot dry climate may be ready for replacement in five or six years. Seven is probably a limit for such a tire to be safe. For a garaged car in a kinder atmosphere you might get moderate use for another three to four years but I’m fond of seven. Which, comes to finger-counting, means my lightly-used 21-year-old Suzuki Sidekick living in New Mexico is probably ready for new black rings at each corner.

Let me go check their birthday…

OK. I’m embarrassed. My lovely Bridgestones which I still think of as “newish”—and they look it—carry this code—3403—on the sidewall following DOT and other numbers not relevant to me now. I’m not going to tell you what 3403 means but let you “look it up.” My daddy always said that would mean more to me.

What Daddy meant was go through card catalogs and pull down heavy tomes from library shelves. Certainly character-building. I mean go to this Tire Rack link and look at their illustrated way to read the age of your tires. And mine, if you’re the nosy kind. Tire Rack also has a wealth of tire lore that is worth several years of Tire Week. You can become an expert and dine out on tire information for months to come.

Belated happy birthday, Tire Week.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 6, 2014 Comments (0)

June! Glorious June!

Our June calendar lists a favorite racing city party and Le Mans.

Our images this week are from the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, taken by Editor Dom Miliano and me. Michael Furman’s feature image is that of a 1933 Squire front.

1933 Squire photo by Michael Furman

IndyCar and Detroit Both Survive

In the recent past, images of Detroit have been anything but pretty. But news from the Motor City has been much better of late. People who care about the city, including Roger Penske, have contributed energy and money to make things happen. The American never say die and we can do this attitudes are prevailing. Property values are rising, and neighborhood by neighborhood there is a resurgence of small businesses and community spirit. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are doing well and doing good by investing in their own local infrastructure. Ironically, the same word applies to this turnaround as to the iconic downtown development that was once heralded as its salvation and later criticized as the reason for its ruin. Renaissance. 

Penske Racing is based in Detroit and The Captain has been the driving force and sponsor behind the two day IndyCar races held on Belle Isle, a park island just off Detroit’s downtown. This is another barrier bound street course and its physical condition mirrors Detroit’s finances. It is to be hoped that both will improve. Penske cars won both bumpy races and as bumpy races go it was entertaining. The talented Will Power drove to a solid win on Saturday and the equally talented Helio Castroneves won on Sunday. The close racing on a tight bumpy course made for the inevitable contact and bad feelings and the soap opera is now part of the IndyCar show.

F1 in Montreal this Weekend

The Grand Prix of Canada takes place in Montreal this weekend. Montreal is a great party city and the F1 team sponsors decorate the town squares with product and race car displays. The race track itself is both simple and boring. The F1 community has a speak no evil policy to which all adhere. A boring track is called technical by drivers. This infers that they don’t think it is as boring we do. Named after native son Gilles Villeneuve, it is essentially a park service road on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River and in full view of downtown Montreal. Coming off the tight Monaco circuit, this track allows for more passing. It is one of Hamilton’s favorite circuits and he has won here several times. That insures that the Mercedes drama will continue.

Greenwich Concours d’Elegance

Dom and I attended the Greenwich Concours this past weekend. The setting, a wooded park on the Long Island Sound is magnificent. Sadly, the view of the water is blocked by the huge Bonham’s Auction tent installation. The show cars are set out in circular compounds among the trees and while I had heard complaints about this, I found it interesting and not at all a negative issue. The actual selection of cars on display was eclectic and interesting. The whole atmosphere is casual and owners of cars on display seemed more accessible and engaging. 

Greenwich Concours d'Elegance

The Bonhams Auction was a huge success and the pricing on market leading cars did not disappoint. An early Flat Floor E-Type Jaguar sold for $335K and an XK-150S did $203,500. The crowd cheered a local bidder who purchased John Fitch’s Phoenix in part to keep it in Connecticut. This is a good thing. No bubble burst here.

Uncommon Ferraris

A Connecticut resident brought his Carbon Fiber race car to the Greenwich Concours. We thought you might be interested in seeing its pretty sister and the Forghieri-designed original.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this newsletter with a friend. It’s how we grow.

Peter Bourassa


Uncommon Ferraris

Posted on June 6, 2014 Comments (0)

James Glickenhaus is a collector of historic and important race cars from the sixties-seventies period. One of those cars, displayed here (#23) is the Ferrari P3/4 which Chris Amon drove to victory at Daytona in 1967. The other two cars are new Ferrari P4/5s. Glickenhaus commissioned their design by American Jason Castriota. They have Ferrari running gear but are not of Ferrari’s manufacture. Both are carbon fiber, the race version is unpainted. It has competed and was shown at Greenwich this past weekend.

Uncommon Ferraris

Uncommon Ferraris

Uncommon Ferraris


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 30, 2014 Comments (0)

Last week’s newsletter prompted interesting responses. A sidebar to Denise McCluggage’s story about rallying behind the Iron Curtain is a precious vignette entitled The Last Supper. An image of a racing Ferrari Daytona prompted Michael Keyser to send us some images he shot of the same car at Le Mans in 1971. And, we received a note from its former owner Dave Gunn. You will be interested in both their comments. The #31 Porsche catching air on the uphill at Lime Rock last Saturday is by editor Dom Miliano. 

Catching air at Lime Rock. Photo by Dom Miliano

Michael Furman’s image this week is a Bugatti 57SC Atlantic from his book, The Art of Bugatti. You can look at this for a long time.

Photo by Michael Furman

F1 - Monaco. Shifting Ethos

As predicted here and almost everywhere else, the pole winner also won the race. Despite the absence of passing, the battle, both in and out of the cars, between the Mercedes drivers, though childish in spots, is entertaining. In the final qualifying session, with Rosberg holding the fastest time, he went off track in a safe spot and that brought out a yellow flag which obliged his teammate and everyone else on a final flying lap to abort their effort and thereby insure the pole for Rosberg.

On several occasions in the past F1 drivers have purposely crashed at the end of the qualifying to ensure that their time could not be bettered. In 2006, Michael Schumacher was penalized for doing just that on this very track. Rosberg was not penalized and rumors flew all weekend that Mercedes telemetry showed his off track excursion was deliberate. Hamilton’s demeanor certainly intimated that he knew his teammate had stolen the race from him and he is quoted as saying that he was two tenths quicker when the yellow flag flew and would have taken the pole. A subsequent interview with Derek Warwick, the designated forth member of the race stewards panel, a veteran F1 driver who participated in 146 races and current President of the BRDC (British Racing Drivers Club), stated that the stewards had access to independent film, overhead shots, and all the Mercedes data. After a lengthy interview, they “could find no evidence of any offence”.

In F1, the drama of the actual racing struggles to equal the theatre provided by the teams, drivers, and locations, not to mention national rivalries that have existed for decades. Hamilton, for all his talent, is a walking soap opera. In Rosberg, he has a teammate so completely different, that it is impossible to believe that they could compete in the supercharged atmosphere of F1 with equal equipment and also get along. And for some, that is part of the entertainment.

Monaco

My only issue with the controversy is more a sad measure of the times. When it was assumed, and even stated on air by a prominent former driver, that only a minority believed Rosberg’s story, one article commended him for knowing that this is what is expected of a driver fighting for the Championship. It was reminiscent of those who commended Vettel for disobeying team orders and passing his unsuspecting teammate Mark Webber in the dying moments of the Malaysian GP last year. If that is the new standard of a Champion, drivers like Fangio, Clark, Graham and Phil Hill, and so many, many others would not be comfortable in their company. And neither should we.

IndyCar: The Double H Win Indy

It was an entertaining battle and in the end, Honda beat Chevy and Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Indianapolis 500. It was a good race and Hunter-Reay’s Honda-powered car was faster when it counted most. His comment I’m a proud American Boy, that’s for sure brought a huge cheer from the crowd.

With this win, Hunter-Reay, a former IndyCar Series Champion, took a giant step forward in the eyes of race fans and he brought Andretti-Green racing and Honda along with him. He is now first in the IndyCar points standings and has displaced Team Penske’s Will Power who finished eighth. Both the Penske and Ganassi Teams took a back seat to Andretti-Green who finished first, third, fourth, and sixth. Andretti-Green must now be considered their equals. Should they win the championship, even better.

Of interest, NASCAR Driver Kurt Busch finished sixth in his first IndyCar race. Nineteen-year-old Sage Karam finished ninth, and former race winner, series champion, and Fi Champion Jacques Villeneuve finished 14th.

This weekend IndyCar is in Detroit and for a two race weekend. Check out our MMR Motorsports Calendar for it and other options.

Editor Dom Miliano and I will be at the Greenwich Concours on Sunday. We hope to see you there.

Have a great weekend,

Peter Bourassa


Le Mans 1971

Posted on May 29, 2014 Comments (1)

by Michael Keyser

Here are a few more [photographs of the Daytona]. One is just after the race with people crawling on the car. Not sure if you know the story, but the car was driven by Luigi Chinetti, Jr. and Bob Grossman. They finished 5th and thought they’d won the GT class … until the French did some slight of hand. Somehow, the ACO decided the Ferrari wasn’t a GT car and awarded the class win to the 911S that finished 6th and was driven by … guess … two Frenchmen.

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser