March 21, 2016
by Sam Q. Fleming
In 1915 a Firestone Tire dealer in Akron Ohio named William O’Neil, irate due to his eroding sales territory, incorporated General Tire and went into the manufacturing business to compete against his former supplier. The kids call this “vertical integration” where a business, in this case tire distribution, incorporates other aspects of the product cycle. His nascent manufacturing business survived WW1 and the Spanish Flu pandemic and grew rapidly through the roaring twenties. As overleveraged competitors failed during the depression, General Tire bought them out on the cheap and doubled their share of the tire market.
The Great Depression was pretty devastating to manufacturing, but economic downturns are rife with opportunities to players that didn’t extend themselves during the boom. And, of course, government contracts are pretty reliable come hell or omnibus budget bills. So, pushing the vertical integration model, General Tire started buying radio stations, and then TV stations, on which it was advertising its tires, and because it had a depth of knowledge with rubber compounding, it won an Army contract to build solid fuel rockets to assist airplanes with short run way take-offs. In 1955 General Tire bought RKO Radio Pictures from noted motorhead Howard Hughes, as they needed the library of content to feed their burgeoning collection of radio and TV stations.
Hudson Valley Motorcycle 1000 Superstock Ducati Panigale R.
NJMP September 12, 2016
By Sam Quarelli Fleming
Time is the unforgiving goddess of the race track. The stopwatch which, fair and cruel, judges talent, bravery, desire, foolishness and preparation to fractions of a second. The hours of training. The days of travel. The weeks of anticipation. The months of recuperation. The decades of a career. Time is the ultimate finite resource.
Racers’ relationship to time is also a perfect example of diminishing returns, as the more time we spend preparing for a race, the less of difference that additional preparation will make. Forty hours of engine work might cut 1/20th of a second off a lap time, but a hundred hours might only extend that to 1/15Th.
KTM RC Cup Media Challenge 2016
June 20, 2016
Autodromo Di Modena
by Sam Quarelli Fleming
“They’re street tires. Pirelli Diablo IIIs. You can’t carry too much lean angle or ask too much of them. If you over do it, they’ll do a chatter like duh duh duh. That’s when you know you are at their limit. The tires will limit you more than the suspension.” Jeremy McWilliams, first MotoGP pole sitter on Bridgestone tires, had said these friendly words of advice at dinner the night before. They replayed through my head as both tires were violently releasing and catching again while my left knee was taking half the weight of the bikes and the bars wrenched in my hands. It was lap three. I was on a race winning pace. Hero or zero in a blink of an eye.
I had flown over to Italy to represent America (AMERICA!) at the invitation of KTM to participate in their RC390 Media Challenge to be held in Modena Italy. 19 Journalists, ten identical KTM RC 390 Cup bikes. One tight tricky track.