NASCAR – Behind The Scenes Of Goodyear’s Race Tire Production For NASCAR

NASCAR – Behind The Scenes Of Goodyear’s Race Tire Production For NASCAR


Goodyear race tires ready to be mounted for a NASCAR raceGoodyear

Perhaps no sponsor in sports is more intertwined with the sport than Goodyear with NASCAR. Since 1969, every champion of the premiere Cup series has been on Goodyear tires, and Goodyear became the exclusive supplier to NASCAR in the top three race series in 1997, a deal that was renewed in 2017.

“Our most important sponsorship is NASCAR,” said Todd Macsuga, general manager of brand marketing at Goodyear. “It’s at the core of who we are as an organization. We’re endemic in the sport. We’re literally the foundation of the sport — what touches the track and makes the thing go.” 

It is a sponsorship, but we are a part of the competition,” said Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales and marketing for Goodyear.

“It’s our brand out there, our tire out there every week. We can have a significant impact on the race itself and whether it’s a competitive race or not. We take that very seriously.” 

Each week during race season, Goodyear delivers 4,000 tires that are custom-designed for that week’s track. Goodyear repeats this more than 90 times a year, making the sponsorship a significant commitment for the company.

Developing these custom tires each week involves a complicated equation. The construction for each race is based on the track’s geometry, length and bank angle. The tread compound itself is selected based on the surface characteristics of the specific track, and different left-side and right-side tires have to be crafted for oval racetracks. As if that weren’t enough, the tire also has to work on the multitude of different cars being raced.

A race tire is crafted from many various components and ingredients.Goodyear

Overall, the goal is to create a tire that can run a full fuel stop, but that requires a delicate balance because traction gives you more speed, but traction also produces heat and that impacts a tire’s longevity.

The research and development that goes into developing these race tires has an impact on consumer tires as well. Goodyear is constantly developing new fabrics and rubber compounds as part of the NASCAR sponsorship. The sponsorship also serves as publicity for the brand.

“If you look at the tire market, in any given day less than 3% of people are in the market for tires,” said Macsuga.

“An even smaller percentage actually buys tires, so we have to constantly remind them of the Goodyear name, because tomorrow it’s another 3%. It’s the reason we engage in sports sponsorships. We keep the Goodyear name relative every day of the year.” 

The sponsorship appears to be paying off for Goodyear. Goodyear is the most-recognized sponsor in NASCAR year after year in the Turnkey Sports & Entertainment sponsor loyalty surveys. In the survey released in early 2018, Goodyear’s NASCAR sponsorship tied for the second most-recognized sports sponsorship with Papa John’s NFL deal, trailing on FedEx’s sponsorship with the PGA Tour. 

I recently had the opportunity to tour the tire production facility in Akron, Ohio that produces all of the race tires for NASCAR. The facility turns out 700-800 tires each day, the majority of which are for NASCAR. All of the tire’s components are made in-house, from the beads to the sidewall to the belts. Tires are constructed one element at a time, handcrafted in such a way that the individual who makes each tire proudly affixes a sticker with his name to the inner wall of the tire before it’s sent off to other departments for inspection.

Each machine used to make the NASCAR tires proudly displays the NASCAR logo and the employees I met were all incredibly knowledgeable about the sport. Not only had many worked at Goodyear for their entire career, but many were second or third generation Goodyear employees.

The seriousness with which Goodyear approaches the task of crafting NASCAR tires is evident in many ways. Not only are there multiple rounds of safety checks, including hand inspection, x-ray machines and laser scanning to detect even the tiniest defects, but it’s obvious from speaking to the employees they are aware of the true gravity of the nature of what they’re creating.

One employee, who was running the laser scanner the day I visited, told me, “Every tire is a potential loss of life.” He said he can’t watch the races on television because if there’s a crash he’s immediately thinking about whether the tire played a role and if it was a tire he inspected personally.

On the trim and inspect line, Goodyear tire builder Rob Ford performs a visual inspection of the cured race tire before it’s stenciled with the iconic gold “Goodyear Eagle.”Goodyear

Every tire is affixed with a RFID tag that allows Goodyear to track the tire’s performance every step of the way, even after it’s been mounted and driven at the racetrack. The facility also has a simulator that can put tires through the exact conditions of each track.

It’s one of the most complex and integrated sports sponsorship in existence – if not the most complex and integrated. But it’s one that’s been paying dividends for both parties in a way that makes it hard to imagine another brand could come in and duplicate or improve upon the process.

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