Burning Rubber in San Antonio: Dual Irons & The Alamo

Although my beloved home of Detroit was still asleep, I was wide awake at 5am. It was a cool Monday in the Motor City. Even in the summer, the mornings have a bit of a chill in Michigan. Yet the welcome from the American Airlines crew was warm. “Our pleasure to have you, Carl,” the First Officer said as I shook his hand boarding flight 2405. My final destination was San Antonio and would ultimately be The Cooper Tire & Vehicle Test Center for the Cooper CS5 Media Ride-N-Drive.

Cooper is celebrating 100 years with the launch of their new CS5 Touring tire and I had an invite to push it to the limit on their proving grounds.

Ariel view of the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center located south of San Antonio on Interstate 35.  Note the wet track - the black square in the upper left corner.

Ariel view of the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center located south of San Antonio on Interstate 35. The Wet Vehicle Dynamics Assessment Pad is the black, 14 acre square in the upper left corner. The Dry Handling Circuit, where testing for the new CS5 Touring also took place, begins at the large oval, just behind the central building.

When I landed in San Antonio, I was greeted by Ross of Elegant Limousine and Charter. I felt like a celebrity with his Texas welcome!  Having never previously been to San Antonio I appreciated his willingness to drive me. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the sincerity of those who call it home – people like Ross and the many other folks I would later meet on this trip.

A big Texas welcome from Ross!

A big Texas welcome from Ross!

He drove me in a Mercedes (I even sat in the back like a real dignitary) and dropped me off at the Omni La Mansión del Rio, arguably the swankiest hotel on the River Walk.

Omni La Mansion Del Rio is directly on the San Antonio River Walk.  It opened as a hotel in 1968 for the World's Fair in San Antonio.  Although construction on the building actually began in 1852 and was established as a school and would later become St. Mary's University Downtown College.  8 mayors of San Antonio would end up receiving an education there.

Omni La Mansion Del Rio is directly on the San Antonio River Walk. It opened as a hotel in 1968 for the World’s Fair in San Antonio.  However, the building, which was constructed in 1852, was first St. Mary’s University Downtown College. 8 mayors of San Antonio would end up receiving an education there.

After I settled into my room, I realized I arrived well ahead of our scheduled dinner with reps from Cooper Tires and the Zimmerman Agency of Tallahassee. Lucky me! Being I was on the River Walk, with about 5 hours all to myself, I decided to check out the sites.

Although it was sunny in Texas, the shade made my stroll on the River Walk nice and relaxing.

Although it was sunny in Texas, the shade made my stroll on the River Walk nice and relaxing.

As I absorbed the River Walk, I fell truly, madly and irresistibly in love with San Antonio. It is a wonderfully special and genuinely endearing place. I have experienced many memorable things in my pursuit to be a respected automotive writer. Cars take people places in the practical sense. That much is true. However, as I stood on the River Walk, I felt “cars” were taking me, at least today, someplace entirely different. Someplace beyond the technical aspects of engines, transmissions and lap times.

That place, for these few hours before dinner, was San Antonio and as I continued to explore the city, this resounding sentiment became immensely validated.

Remember The Alamo

In paying my respects to The Alamo, I was moved by the words of Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis.

The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat

William Travis

Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis as drawn by Wiley Martin.

The quote is from a letter Travis had written known as, “To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World.” Travis, in earnest, answered with a cannon shot but few actually acknowledged his plea for reinforcements. It was more than a tourist attraction at this point – it was the real and living history of San Antonio speaking to me. I am challenging myself to “fire the cannon” with obstacles in my own life and when the stakes are high, to answer the call to action as bravely as those who sound it.

And I challenge everybody to do the same, just as Travis did.

William Travis Rememberance Stone

By now, I needed to return to the hotel and get ready for dinner. It was imperative I look nice since I was also meeting a handful of other automotive writers, bloggers and journalists. After an eventful time discovering San Antonio, I ended up making myself look like a fool – but I got a good laugh.

Dual Irons

And here is where I really have to compliment the staff of Omni La Mansión del Rio.  I unpacked my new shirt for dinner but after being in my suitcase, it needed ironing.  I looked all over the room but could not find an iron.  Surely a place this nice has one?

I walked down to the lobby and requested one (kindly of course) and Yasmeen at the front desk replied, “there is one in the closet sir, just pull the handle on the door right next to the bathroom.”

There’s a closet by the bathroom?  How did I miss that?

Back to my room and sure enough, the closet was there.

Closet Door

Either one of two things happened.  I neglected to see this full sized door in my room or the staff magically placed it there while I was down in the lobby. The jury is still out but I opened the door and beheld an iron!  So, I quickly phoned the lobby and told Yasmeen I indeed found the closet and more importantly, the iron.  I thanked her but she insisted, “no problem sir and just in case, we are sending another up.”

And right then, a knock at my door. Impeccable timing…I will hand it to them.

The gentlemen who brought the iron informed me it was “already warm.” I am sure they figured if I could not see the closet door then I probably could not efficiently operate an iron. Fair assessment on their part. I am not the most observant person.  I admit it.

But my stupidity ensured I was the only guy at Omni La Mansión del Rio with TWO IRONS!

The hallway in which the second iron was delivered.

The hallway in which the second iron was delivered.

My next installment will detail what happened at the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center, 40 miles south of San Antonio. It was a grueling and hot day, deep in the heart of Texas, with a fury of burning rubber on two very different tracks. The scent of molten silica hung in the air for hours…

Silver Mustang Carl Anthony

I put the new CS5 through the paces and drove harder than I ever have before…the question is, did the new Cooper CS5 stand up to the punishment I delivered?

The results may not be what you think when the tires finally started talking…

One of my many runs with the Ford Mustang and the Cooper CS5 on the wet track at the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center.

One of my many runs with the Ford Mustang and the Cooper CS5 on the wet track at the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center.

The Cooper CS5 Media Ride-N-Drive was organized, promoted and sponsored by Cooper Tires and The Zimmerman Agency. However, the thoughts and opinions of this series are my own.

In my next installment:
A day at the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center.
How Cooper, Hankook and Pirelli brands held up on two very different tracks.
Did the Coopers actually stay true to their claims?
Are good tires even necessary if the car has traction control?
When I had a major wipe out, the tires I was testing.
What tire, of all the competing brands, would be best for real world driving.
And…
How I entertained the idea of test driving a boat.

Update: Read my next installment of Day 2 in San Antonio here.

I will explain the significance of this car in my next installment...

I will explain the significance of this car in one of my later installments too…

Carl Anthony

Carl Anthony

Contributor
Growing up, Carl was a car and truck enthusiast and often wrote auto themed articles for his high school paper. His stay at Sioux Falls Ford as a Master Certified Sales Consultant would lead sister dealership Luxury Auto Mall of Sioux Falls (Cadillac, Mercedes, BMW, Sprinter) to recruit him when they re-branded. Carl would later assume a critical management role for the organization and mentor many employees under his direction. At the same time, his voice was heard across South Dakota on radio station KELO-FM and his writings were featured monthly in 605 Magazine, The Motor Market and The Sioux Falls Business Journal. The career combinations earned him accolades as one of the most influential young figures in the state. Carl now lives in Detroit and contracts as a Project Manager and Program Advisor for Badillo Engineering. He regularly consults with other figures in the auto industry, sharing insights, lessons and stories. Carl is a member of Detroit Working Writers and co-founder of Farmhouse Fitness along with his wife Cassandra. They have two cats and share a mutual love for Fords.


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