Recently, Parker Nirenstein from supercar YouTube series Vehicle Virgins went to a Michelin press event where there was an autocross. You know, actual hard driving that requires skill and precision, the likes of which we don’t see on supercar YouTube very often. He is immediately called out by Alex Roy. It is hilarious.
Parker’s regurgitating a lot of tire jargon that I’m not sure he quite understands, so The Drive’s Roy is doing the public service of calling him “the influencer we got, not the influencer we need or deserve.” I’m not sure Nirenstein even knows what “modulate between understeer and oversteer,” is supposed to mean. Isn’t there a word missing there, like “throttle,” maybe?
Mind you, Nirenstein just posted a video from a track day a couple months ago where he appears to be in one of the instructed groups for novice drivers, given the lead-follow laps done to familiarize everyone with the line of the track at the start. That’s great! More auto personalities should be going to the track for instruction so they can be better at what they do. It’s one of Nirenstein’s best videos since it’s an honest look at what happens at the track and how fun it is.
But there’s the rub—I don’t expect a guy who’s just starting to dabble in performance driving to be consistent enough to discern the difference between “snap oversteer” and “ham-footing the go-fast pedal.” He’s not exactly carrying much speed in the corners at the track, either.
This is also why we don’t do tire junkets here. They’re dumb and bad! What’s the takeaway? What’s the story? “Dunlop tires feel amazing at the limit! I can really feel the car in these Dunlop tires! Only buy Dunlop tires from now on!” It is press graft at its worst.
You see, Nirenstein’s puzzling tire remarks are what the lovely people who sell tires want: their message coming out of a pretty face who gets lots of attention. If your schtick is look-at-me shiny objects and not the art of driving said shiny objects fast, you’re going to be more inclined to spit back out something that sounds way too close to the manufacturer’s marketing presentation as opposed to your own thoughts in your own voice. (Especially when a tire manufacturer is footing the bill for the whole event.)
Here’s a thought: if you’re looking for tire advice, seek out the people who are very good at flogging on tires, not a guy who got famous on YouTube for spending a lot of money on cars.
Grassroots Motorsports has a habit of putting national autocross champions behind the wheel for their head-to-head tire tests, and it’s an annual must-read for performance street tires. Tire Rack also does absurdly thorough tests of even more normal fare, if you’re able to read between the lines of “this is a company trying to sell you tires.” Alternately, ask any track day instructors you know, as they experience a little bit of everything thanks to the massive variety of tires that students show up with at the track.
But don’t listen to “influencers,” who are too easily influenced on press junkets.
[Full disclosure: I am hot garbage at autocross, and I don’t get to do anywhere near the number of track days I’d like to do. I’m surprised Jalopnik trusts me with cars at all, to be honest.]
Update: On the other hand, if we’re talking about influencers:
Update 2: Alex called to say he wants you to know he used Michelin Pilot Sports for his Cannonball Run, and he swears by them.
Everything is terrible, influence yourself, trust no one.