Jack Purcell RaceAround: The Stingray of Tennis Shoes
B.F. Goodrich once made shoes for your ‘Vette and your feet.
If you are old enough to remember the days when you wore dress shoes to school and changed into your gym shoes for Phys Ed, you probably remember Jack Purcell, Zips, and P.F.Flyers. Back in the day, rubber soled athletic shoes were made by tire companies, and those three were made by the Goodrich company. In 1972, when this ad was in youth-oriented magazines, the RaceAround and Indy 500 debuted with lines and color blocks inspired by fast cars. Since it would be irresponsible to give a young man an Indy car in a contest, they gave away a new 1972 Corvette painted up to match the shoes.
In the ad these three kids certainly seem into it. When they turn 16, if they are lucky, one of them could be the coolest kid in school, taking the title away from the one what currently owns that minibike.
The Corvette and the RaceAround were not the only sporty automotive tie-ins that B.F.Goodrich made with their shoes. There were also these ads from Car Craft magazine featuring Jaguar E-types, and Alfa Romeo Spyders and their sneakers.
B.F.Goodrich wasn’t the only tire company making rubber soled shoes, Firestone, Uniroyal, Dunlop, and Goodyear all have been in the shoe business (there’s no business like it, no business I know) over the years. Uniroyal created Keds, which are synonymous with sneakers. In England, Dunlop was the shoe for professional tennis players back in the early 1900s, and they still sell plenty of shoes and boots there. These days, Goodyear Footwear is still at it and many of their shoes are specifically made for performance driving, like the Clutch-E and Ori.
Good luck trying to find any of these shoes nowadays. Converse bought out the Goodrich shoe division shortly after the Indy 500 and RaceAround came out in the 1970s. However, just 10 years ago Converse did reissue a bunch of old styles in the Purcell line, and the RaceAround was among them. They also issued a similar style called the Rally, seen below.
What do you think of these kicks?