The Truth About Shinola, Tudor and the Detroit Grand Prix
When the word “truth” is in the title of the publication, there’s an obligation to keep things factual. Also, I have an ego and don’t like to make mistakes in public. Much of what I write about involves automotive history one way or another and it annoys me when I come across inaccurate sources. Someone may use my work as a reference, I want it to be accurate. Due to a press release from the Detroit Grand Prix that was in error, and some inattention on my part, there were some inaccuracies in my recent post about the Tudor and Shinola watch companies racing sponsorships and how they might conflict at this year’s Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.
To begin with, Shinola watches will be awarded only to the winners of the two IndyCar races that weekend, not all race winners, as it said in the original CDBIGP press release and my post. The winners of the Pirelli World Challenge race and the Tudor United SportsCar Championship race will be awarded custom Shinola branded leather goods. In addition, my post quoted Shinola founder Tom Kartsotis regarding some market research showing that consumers favored “made in Detroit” products over Chinese or generic “made in U.S.A.” items of the same quality. While the quote was accurate, the attribution to Kartsotis was my error. An unnamed Shinola employee was the source of that quote. Kartsotis guards his privacy and apparently doesn’t give interviews. If you can find a photo of the man, let me know.
All parties involved say that Shinola and Tudor have a respectful relationship and will work out whatever issues may arrive in a respectful and professional manner. The situation has not appreciably changed since last year when Tudor’s corporate parent, Rolex, sponsored a race at the CDBIGP and Shinola was an event sponsor. In my post I mentioned that at a recent publicity event in connection with the Detroit auto show, drivers from the Indycar and Pirelli World Challenge races had visited Shinola’s Detroit watch assembly facility, where they were presented with Shinola watches. I noted that drivers from the Tudor United SportsCar Championship series had not participated. According the the CDBIGP, that had nothing to do with a sponsorship conflict but rather with the unarguable fact that the USCC drivers were busy with the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona race.
Shinola’s account manager at the Lovie George public relations agency also me asked to point out that only some of Shinola’s watches have been limited, numbered editions. Additionally, in my post I referred to a Shinola press kit on a thumb drive wrapped in leather and said that it had been sewn in Shinola’s Detroit factory. Shinola’s tagline is “where American is made” and they try to be transparent about their suppliers. The leather wrapping and sewing was not done in Detroit but rather by the Eric Scott company of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, one of Shinola’s supplier partners.
Finally, quoting publicity materials from the CDBIGP and Shinola, I said that Shinola was the official timepiece and timekeeper of the Detroit Grand Prix. On that later point, when I got a chance to tour Shinola’s Detroit watch assembly facility before last year’s race, I specifically asked if they were actually providing timekeeping services for the race or just paying a sponsorship fee. Race timekeeping seemed to be outside the core competencies of Shinola. I was assured that Shinola was indeed keeping time for the racing at the Grand Prix. Apparently that’s not actually the case. One of the things mentioned in the feedback that I got from the concerned parties was, “To clarify – Shinola is the official timepiece and timekeeper of the Grand Prix in name, not actual function.”
I’m a bit bemused about making the mistakes and chagrined that an attempt to say something positive about a company that has invested substantial amounts of money locating some of their production facilities in Detroit ended up in a flurry of emails and phone calls about clarifications and corrections. I guess a few nerves were touched and I suppose that a lot of dollars are involved in things like series and race sponsorships. My primary concern is, as mentioned, keeping things factual. Still, it’s nice to know that when we write about businesses like Shinola and Tudor, or events like the CDBIGP, that the people involved with those concerns pay attention to what we have to say.
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