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  • Tire expert

    I met a guy who claimed that he tested motorcycle tires at the track shortly after WW 2. He later worked for FIrestone and Goodyear.

    Does anyone know who this might be?

  • #2
    Sorry for the snark but you didn't ask him his name?
    "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." H.L. Mencken

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    • #3
      Yeah and he told me but I've forgotten. It was about 20 years ago.

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      • #4
        Oh, sorry- I thought it was recently.
        "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." H.L. Mencken

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        • #5
          Originally posted by indyfan View Post
          I met a guy who claimed that he tested motorcycle tires at the track shortly after WW 2. He later worked for Firestone and Goodyear.

          Does anyone know who this might be?
          I'm not saying it didn't happen but I can't imagine why it would. IMS was paved even then while any motorcycle racing in the 1940s was held on dirt tracks; usually at county fairgrounds. Even the Daytona 200 didn't leave the beach until 1961 when it was moved to the (obviously paved) new Daytona Speedway. There would have been no reason to do motorcycle tire testing at Indianapolis.

          Having said that the track was basically open year round to teams that had entered the 500. And it wasn't uncommon for drivers or even mechanics to fire up their cars and turn a few laps after an engine rebuild. Even sprint cars got tested at times and were kept in the garages as well. For the most part this practice died out around 1960 although I have heard of at least one occasion where a mechanic got permission to check out their engine on the track in the middle 1960s.

          Someone may well have ridden a motorcycle around the track in some kind of informal "test" but it's hard to believe that any tire company would have been involved.

          If someone knows more about this I'd welcome the information.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by indyrjc View Post

            ....the track was basically open year round to teams that had entered the 500. And it wasn't uncommon for drivers or even mechanics to fire up their cars and turn a few laps after an engine rebuild. Even sprint cars got tested at times and were kept in the garages as well.
            That's some very cool trivia. I'm trying to imagine that sort of thing happening today and the thrill it would provide to any random museum visitors who just happened to be on site at that time.

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            • #7
              I was told it was a multiday motorcycle street tire test done at about 50 mph. 25 laps clockwise then 25 laps counterclockwise repeatedly for 3-4 days. The first rider got bored (and sore) and quit after one day. The guy I spoke with was his buddy and took up the ride on day 2. Perhaps it was after military service but not in WW2? Possibly John Cooper?
              Last edited by indyfan; 05-07-2019, 06:09 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by indyfan View Post
                I was told it was a multiday motorcycle street tire test done at about 50 mph. 25 laps clockwise then 25 laps counterclockwise repeatedly for 3-4 days. The first rider got bored (and sore) and quit after one day. The guy I spoke with was his buddy and took up the ride on day 2. Perhaps it was after military service but not in WW2? Possibly John Cooper?
                I don't believe John Cooper ever worked for either Goodyear or Firestone.

                https://www.indianapolismotorspeedwa...hn-cooper-2016

                Just a shot in the dark but one name that comes to mind is Bob Cassaday who just passed away last year at the age of 91. He worked on the very first crews that rebuilt the track after WWII and got it ready for the 1946 500. He also later worked for Firestone. I'm not sure about Goodyear but he was also a longtime USAC official.

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                • #9
                  Yeah, there may have been no need for motorcycle racing tires to be tested on pavement, but street tires would certainly need to be tested on a regular basis.

                  I'm pretty sure Wilbur Shaw tested street car tires at IMS during his lengthy stint with Firestone.
                  "Charging a man with murder here was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500."- Capt. Willard, Apocolypse Now
                  "Ain't nuthin' like [being with a woman], 'cept maybe the Indy 500."- Bunny, Platoon
                  "To alcohol! The cause of- and solution to- all of life's problems."- Homer J. Simpson

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Stick500 View Post
                    Yeah, there may have been no need for motorcycle racing tires to be tested on pavement, but street tires would certainly need to be tested on a regular basis.

                    I'm pretty sure Wilbur Shaw tested street car tires at IMS during his lengthy stint with Firestone.
                    The driver that reportedly put in more pre WWII miles than anyone else was Erwin "Cannonball" Baker. He tested all kinds of trucks, cars, and even motorcycles at the Speedway all through the 1920s and '30s; often running around the clock. This was in addition to his many (well over 100) well publicized coast to coast runs.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by indyrjc View Post

                      The driver that reportedly put in more pre WWII miles than anyone else was Erwin "Cannonball" Baker. He tested all kinds of trucks, cars, and even motorcycles at the Speedway all through the 1920s and '30s; often running around the clock. This was in addition to his many (well over 100) well publicized coast to coast runs.
                      That is who I had in mind.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by indyrjc View Post

                        The driver that reportedly put in more pre WWII miles than anyone else was Erwin "Cannonball" Baker. He tested all kinds of trucks, cars, and even motorcycles at the Speedway all through the 1920s and '30s; often running around the clock. This was in addition to his many (well over 100) well publicized coast to coast runs.
                        Always wondered why the movie/race was titled "Cannonball Run". Thanx
                        "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." H.L. Mencken

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