"Tires is what wins a race." That was the lesson Harry tried to teach Cole in the stock-car classic Days of Thunder. "If we can't figure a way to run so you don't melt the damn tires, we can't finish a race." How right he was: every NASCAR driver knows that having the right tires can mean the difference between a checkered flag and a DNF, but now the White House is embracing the same message to educate the public about safety and fuel efficiency.

Hold on a second... NASCAR and fuel efficiency? That's right: Tuesday's press conference in front of the West Wing had to signal one of the most bizarre partnerships we've seen yet, bringing together two iconic but very different symbols of American power. At the podium were Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, presidential counselor John Podesta and NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney, who parked his Sprint Cup-spec No. 18 Toyota Camry and his Nationwide Series-spec No. 22 Ford Mustang on the White House driveway. Their message is that having the right tires on your passenger car can reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and the risk of a crash.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which falls under Secretary Foxx's department, if ten percent of Americans fitted low-rolling-resistance tires to their cars, it would net a $200 million reduction in fuel consumption and a drop in pollution by some 690,000 tons each year. That's why the Obama Administration is launching this public awareness campaign in the hope that motorists will spend the extra cash on the more environmentally friendly rubber.

And with 11,000 car accidents each year attributed to tire problems, the White House is teaming up with suppliers like Bridgestone, Michelin and Continental to launch Tire Safety Awareness Month. The initiative aims to highlight the importance of having working tires in good condition and properly inflated.

Whether the campaigns will succeed in convincing Americans, to parrot the Michelin slogan, of just how much is riding on their tires, remains to be seen. But at the very least, it's given us the imagery of stock cars in front of the White House. And what could be more American than that?

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