Road Trippin' and Big Thinkin' - Tire Review Magazine

Road Trippin’ and Big Thinkin’

Foundthis little gem many months ago in the Internets. So long ago I don’treally remember where. But it’s an interesting part of Americana. Well,at least Americana back in the day. And it’s something we should bethankful for.

Here’s the write-up that accompanied these photos:

“The Swinging Sixties gave way to some of the most recognizableroadside attractions still in place today. Amongst those is theUniroyal Gal, a giant fiberglass woman either donning a somewhatconservative skirt and top or a more provocative bikini. Uniroyal Galscan still be found across the United States. One such stands at Stanthe Tire Man in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. This is one of the moreconservative giantesses with a blue skirt and red top.”

Pretty cool, eh?

 Seems, too, that the UniGal was “married” for a time…to a giantfiberglass character that resembled Paul Bunyan. The UniGuy stoodside-by-side with his gal at Stan the Tire Man for a period, butapparently things didn’t work out. They split and he moved on to becomea muffle pitch giant. Later he then crossed state lines to NorthCarolina to take on a more Bunyanesque role with a log cabin maker.

Not a week goes by that I don’t see something about the giant Uniroyaltire that sits idle along I-94 near Detroit. Someone saw it for thefirst time, or made some suggestions as to what should become of thebehemoth. 

 For a period of time, Uniroyal lost control of the giant tire, butapparently Michelin North America (which owns Uniroyal now) has atleast some relationship with it as its continuing presence has meriteda brief historical sketch on the Uniroyal Web site:

“The Uniroyal Giant Tire was originally created as a Ferris wheelattraction at the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair. The wheel held 96fairgoers and was powered by a 100-horsepower motor. More than twomillion people rode the Giant Tire Ferris wheel during the fair,including Jacqueline Kennedy and her children, John Jr. and Caroline.

“After the 1965 World’s Fair festivities ended, the Giant Tire wasrelocated to a Uniroyal Tire sales office in Allen Park, Michigan, andhas towered alongside I-94 near the Metro Airport ever since. Over thedecades it has become an important symbol of Uniroyal’s 117-year heritage and a cultural icon for the city of Detroit known the world over.

“In 1994, the Uniroyal Giant Tire was given a sleeker, modern look.Neon lighting and a new hubcap were added to the tire’s body.

“The current Uniroyal Giant Tire was completed in 1998. In Augustof 1998, the Giant Tire was modified again — this time to resemble aNailGard tire. A giant nail was placed in the tire’s tread todemonstrate the product’s ability to seal 90% of tread punctures up to3/16-inch in diameter.

“In 2003, Uniroyal invested close to $1 million to renovate the GiantTire as its contribution to Detroit’s I-94 corridor revitalizationeffort. The renovation, which included structural repairs and an updateto the exterior, will ensure that the Giant Tire is enjoyed for manyyears to come.” 

The 250-pound nail was removed as part of the 2003 fix-up, and was auctioned for charity.

Roadside attractions, like these and the giant ball of twine andworld’s largest rubber band ball, are part of America and all of ourlives.

 But isn’t it just a little odd that these here are all connected to Uniroyal? Were they “big thinkers”?

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