Motor vehicles are created to be driven; some are used for utility while others are mostly for recreation. The driving experience is a key element to a car becoming a classic, especially in the appropriately named world of sports cars. Recently Cincy Motorsports Journal participated with some of our favorite subscribers in several classic car-driving adventures. The list involved reads like an encyclopedia of specialty cars: Porsche, MG, Corvette, BMW, Datsun, Bentley, Morgan, Mercedes, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari.

Porsches were joined by Morgans, Mercedes-Benz and Alfa Romeos when the Porsche Family Tree event included a driving tour April 27. Following the East Fork Little Miami River from Mariemont into Brown County and returning along Stonelick Creek, 60 miles of driving some of the most scenic roads in the area was followed by the debut of the Cayman and Carrera Models at Porsche of the Village.

We also ventured out with the Southwest Ohio T-Owners (MG) for a dynamic day of driving to Adams County and back with a group of 27 collector cars. This drive offered lunch at an Amish market and deli, stops at the John T. Wilson Homestead and Barn Sale Antiques, along with some of the most engaging and fun roads in southern Ohio. The rallye masters that plot and plan these routes find untraveled scenic paths that sweep you away and allow you to unleash your Walter Mitty spirit for a few hours.

Upcoming adventures include the Maserati Mingle in June, the Put In Bay Road Race Reunion in August and the Rallye Porsches Mariemont (RPM) in October.
 

TireDiscounters' New Stores Show Commitment to Customers

Is Chip Wood "The Phantom Tire Buyer?" We posed that question at the recent opening of the TireDiscounters' tire store of the future. The Cincinnati-based regional retailers, which is known for free alignment and nitrogen inflation, is upgrading their customers' experience.

There's no more sitting in uncomfortable chairs watching reruns on a fuzzy TV, sipping unusual tasting coffee and wondering what happened to your car after it vanished into the shop. TireDiscounters locations are outfitted with Wi-Fi, work stations for adults, and an entertainment station for kids; complimentary snacks and beverages are in the refreshment area; multiple flat-screen video displays allow you to follow your car's service process; large windows provide the same view of that service; and vehicle service boards also track your vehicle through the process, displaying regular updates on one of the monitors - a transparency previously not seen in the industry.

In 1976 fresh out of the University of Cincinnati, Chip Wood spent 70 percent of his savings on a tire spin-balancing machine for his new automotive service business. Another early expense was a marquee sign to promote the business. Wood recognized the relationship of strong branding and marketing to growth and created a uniform identity for the store exterior and embraced radio as the primary advertising vehicle. This provided a birthplace for the Phantom Tire Buyer, a favorite character highlighting new features in tire technology while educating and entertaining the public.

Training and education is the Phantom's mantra as well as the entire enterprise: a new facility in Sharonville has a fully equipped store used for training only. Because of the complexity and variety of automobiles, TD University was established to train the staff, including store and service managers, to remain competitive. Green elements were also built into the new store design such as ground-up recycled tires to create mulch for landscaping, UV sensitive windows to lower the energy consumption, and Valvoline's NexGen Semi-Synthetic Oil reduces the environmental impact while providing optimum service to newer vehicles.

Starting with the original store on Wooster Pike, the company grew to more than 60 stores in 37 years with its new flagship store on Colerain Avenue just north of I-275. And it's still growing, not only as a presence in the local economy but also in the community. TireDiscounters' workforce is projected to double over the next five years to 1,800 and 60 more stores are scheduled to open by 2018 while the existing stores will be upgraded to the customer-friendly layout.

As for whether Chip Wood is the Phantom Tire Buyer, I'm not sure. But I noticed that he doesn't wear glasses.