Enigmatic. Helmeted. Red. Large-beaked. Deadly with a t-shirt air cannon. It's Firestone FIREHAWK, and he's going on record with pressdog about tweeting, t-shirt gunning, Cameron the IZOD Trophy Girl and and concerning anger issues toward geckos.
WORD to the Firehawks PR operative Darla and the festival of management who most likely had to approve this 100% real Q&A. BAM.
pressdog: How does someone get to be The Officail Firehawk? Is it like beauty pageants where there are local, regional, state, national Mr. Firehawk contests?
pressdog: Do you practice with that T-shirt gun? I swear you could drop a T-shirt into a bushel basket from 100 yards with that thing.
Firehawk: Being a raptor, I have keen eyesight and lightning-sharp reflexes. So I have a natural talent in that area. But I have been known to aim for neighboring nests for practice when I’m bored at home. So the next time you see a bird flying around wearing a Firestone t-shirt, you know where he got it. I’ve been trying to get the chicken that guest stars on Family Guy to wear one, but he wants too much money.
pressdog: Are you constantly amazed how people FREAK OUT when they get a chance for a free T-shirt delivered via air cannon?
Firehawk: Hey, free is FREE! And the t-shirts are emblazoned with my glorious visage, so you’d be crazy not to want one.
pressdog: If you hit someone with a T-shirt from the gun at point blank range would it knock them unconscious?
Firehawk: Oh I would never try to find out! I love IndyCar fans and Firestone fans, and I wouldn’t want to harm anyone! Now rodents and small woodland creatures are a different story. And bring on that Geico Gecko. I heard Dario Franchitti’s willing to donate $1,000 to the “With You Japan” cause if Tony Kanaan will dress up as the lizard. I want to go on the record now to say that I will not be held responsible for my actions should Tony decide to do so…my natural predatory instincts might kick in, and the results could be ugly.
pressdog: Is it hotter than hell inside that jumper thing you wear? Do you have to hose the thing out after every race (or is it dry cleanable?) or is it just super sweet smelling?
Firehawk: Well, Texas is usually hotter than the seventh circle of Dante’s Inferno, so it does get pretty hot with the suit over my feathers. But the sweat just rolls off like water off a duck’s back. My bird keeper helps keep my suit clean for me. What can I say, it’s nice to have “people.” And for the record, my natural aroma is quite amazing -- I smell like cinnamon and habaneros. The cinnamon attracts the ladies, and the habanero pepper deters potential predators. Although those are few -– I’m pretty much at the top of the food chain.
pressdog: Is it hard to sign with those Firehawk hands? Did you have to go into training to learn to do it?
Firehawk: I’ve become pretty adept at clutching a Sharpie with my talons. It took a little practice, but I’ve gotten the hang of it over the years. I’m honored that fans would want my autograph.
pressdog: What's up with Izod Trophy Girl Cameron? She gave you massive props for showing her the ropes for getting in the picture. Where did you learn your skills?
Firehawk: I did go to a special mascot training school, so I am a professional. Natural talent can go a long way, but education is very important as well. Remember, kids – do like Firehawk and STAY IN SCHOOL! I’m happy to pass my skills along to Cameron and any other IndyCar mascots! Unless Kanaan does don the gecko suit, then all bets are off.
Firehawk: Actually, like most male birds, seeing an attractive female makes me want to strut my stuff even more. So I feel that Cameron’s presence has really enhanced my performance at the track!
pressdog: Could the Firehawk totally pull off the beach wear look right along with Cameron?
Firehawk: While I am a fine specimen of my species, I could never compete with her tan or her luxurious flowing locks. My feathers won’t allow it. Besides, I’m not an aquatic bird like a gull or pelican. My natural habitat is the racetrack, not the beach.
pressdog: What's Cameron REALLY like? Does she smoke cigarettes and drink hard liquor when off camera or what?
Firehawk: She’s just as lovely off camera as she is on! I adore her and hope that she likes cinnamon and habaneros…
pressdog: Was it Tension City in Camp Firehawk when it appeared that IndyCar and Firestone were done? Was there open weeping on your end?
Firehawk: I may have shed a few tears of flame, and I seriously contemplated flying south (way south) for the winter and never coming back! I watched that movie Happy Feet, and those penguins looked like a fun bunch…
pressdog: If you met the Goodyear mascot (if they even have one), would it be GO TIME?
Firehawk: I don’t think Goodyear has a mascot. I mean, what would it be – a giant foot or a walking blimp? As for Bib the Michelin man and others, I would never pick a fight; however, as the fiercely proud keeper of Firestone’s legacy, I would do my best to protect the company’s good name.
pressdog: Do people grab your tail inappropriately? Is there a way to grab it appropriately?
Firehawk: People are intrigued by my spectacular fiery tail feathers. But I must warn everyone…proceed with caution. You might get burned…
pressdog: How often do you approach kids who are excited at first, but when you get close they act like you're the Raptor of DEATH and get scared?
Firehawk: It happens quite often, and I can totally understand. I mean, I’m not a barnyard chick or the Easter Bunny. A lot of kids are scared of Santa Claus as well, so I try not to take it personally. Maybe it’s the red suit? The weirder thing is when adults are scared. But I must make a confession –- even I, the mighty FIREHAWK, was freaked out by that stork in Iowa last year. What the heck was that unholy abomination of nature? Creepy!!!
pressdog: You're named after a tire. Does that create some issues for you, self-worth-wise?
Firehawk: Tread carefully… HA! I said “tread.” No, I am PROUD to represent Firestone’s outstanding performance passenger car and race tires.
pressdog: If a pit crew was a man short, could you jump in? Are you standing by, ready to go in case of emergencies?
Firehawk: No way, my name is FIREhawk. Do you think I should be close to the ethanol while they’re fueling? As much as I would love to see how fast I could change a Firehawk tire, I’m relegated to my place in victory circle after the race and mingling amongst the fans at other times.
pressdog: Didn't the Firehawk used to be on Twitter? Are you still on there? It must be tough to Tweet with the Mighty Talons.
Firehawk: Yes, I used to tweet, since it was my native language. However, you’re right –- it got a bit cumbersome to tweet with talons on a little smartphone (I kept scratching it beyond recognition), so I delegated my responsibilities to the Firestone Racing PR folks (@FirestoneRacing). They will keep everyone apprised of my activities, so be sure to follow them for the latest in Firehawk (and IndyCar) news.
pressdog: Complete the sentence: On race weekends, the mission of the Firehawk is to .....
Firehawk: Get on camera and in pictures as much as possible. Make as many people smile as possible. Shoot as many t-shirts into the crowd as possible. Fiercely represent and protect Firestone’s good name. Shake my tailfeathers.
pressdog: Favorite part of your Firehawk life?
Firehawk: Making people smile.
pressdog: Least favorite part of your Firehawk life?
Firehawk: The off-season.