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Goodyear's road to making Nascar tires

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (GT) is no stranger to very high speeds on the racetrack.

The tiremaker has had a long, storied 100-year history in the sport of racing. It all began for Goodyear back in 1901, when Ford founder Henry Ford put Goodyear rubber on his car sponsored by the Detroit Driving Club. Come 1922 and after years of wins, Goodyear dropped out of active race participation amid the economic uncertainties of the time.

Goodyear’s unofficial return to racing came in 1954 with the test of the Police Special Tire in Darlington, South Carolina. The company made its official return into racing in 1958.

In the 1960s, Goodyear scored major victories at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans with legends Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant behind the wheel of a GT Cobra. Legend AJ Foyt scored a few Indy 500 wins, too.


Today, it’s safe to say Goodyear continues to be the dominant tire player in all things racing. Producing racing tires by hand out of its high-tech Akron, Ohio, manufacturing plant, Goodyear makes every racing tire produced for Nascar’s top three series as well as the NHRA/Top Fuel league. The company churns out more than 100,000 tires each year for Nascar. About 4,000 tires are brought to the track by Goodyear on a typical Nascar race weekend.

A worker hand makes a Nascar tire at Goodyear's Akron, Ohio manufacturing plant.
A worker hand makes a Nascar tire at Goodyear's Akron, Ohio manufacturing plant. (Brian Sozzi)

And suffice it to say, the racing tire of today has come a long way from those Henry Ford days. A Nascar tire is constructed to handle speeds of more than 200 mph. At those 200 mph speeds, the surface area of one tire touching the track is roughly equal to half of an 8.5 inch by 11 inch piece of paper.

Each Nascar tire is 15 inches, weighs 24 pounds, has an RFID tag and the name of the person that made the tire on a sticker. The tire life ranges from 80 to 100 miles, or the distance it takes to use a full tank of fuel. Each tire costs $503.

As for the NHRA tires, they are designed to handle speeds in excess of 300 mph. The front tires for a top fuel car go for $274, and $919 for the ginormous rear tires.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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