Hot Wheels Indy Cars and Crash Test Dummies... It Must Be Summer.

Monday, July 26, 2010
By SeattleTool

It’s the height of summer. If there’s any time of year to sit back and try not to take life too seriously, it’s now.

That might explain why Indy racer Alex Tagliani chose July to announce that he will now be driving a Hot Wheels car and the Smithsonian Institute just welcomed the addition of two jovial crash test dummies to their collection of historical automotive safety artifacts.

Tagliani raced his FAAZT Team car in the Honda Indy Toronto, July 18. The  ultra shiny blue car, decorated in the iconic Hot Wheels colors and logo, no doubt reached far into the memory banks of thousands of race fans who spent their childhoods growling high decibel engine noises, imagining their toys racing in the same events they now attend in real life.

At the July 14 unveiling of the new-look car, the Montreal native said it would be “a huge honor to have my very own life size Hot Wheels race car” also noting that, as a kid, the cars in his Hot Wheels collection always competed to win the “Tour de Tagliani.”

And while the young italian was on the living room floor deciding which car would reach the winner’s circle that day, one can picture an episode of those goofy public service announcements featuring two jovial crash test dummies -- Vince and Larry -- playing on a TV in the background.

Vince and Larry started their careers in the early 1980’s at a time when the ad agencies responsible for automotive safety spots focussed on scare tactics to sell their message. The two dummies, who joked about flying through windshields together and severed limbs, were an innovative departure, whose humor amidst a vital message, caught and held the public’s attention for the next 25 years.

To honor Vince and Larry’s contributions to keeping safety in the public’s collective consciousness, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration donated costumes and limbs from the duo to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on the same day that Tagliani unveiled his Hot Wheels car.

Racing is a high stakes game. There’s no doubt about that. And automotive safety is the most serious of businesses. Yet, if we’ve learned anything from those mid-80’s TV spots, it’s that there’s still room for little levity even amidst heavy subjects.

At Seattle Tool we take quality, design and innovation very seriously. Yet, we also applaud those who can successfully fuse the importance of those core principles in a playful, carefree way . . . especially during hammock and BBQ season. 

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