LAS VEGAS—Goodyear´s Dunlop brand launched several products under its Direzza line—including the first Direzza racing slicks—at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, where its booth focused on high performance.
Dunlop unveiled the Direzza GRP street-legal drag race tire and a Direzza bias-ply drag slick, plus 22 new sizes of the Direzza DZ101 and a 24-inch Grandtrek PT9000 high-performance tire for sport trucks.
Goodyear is rebranding its Dunlop SP Sport racing slicks to the Direzza name, promoting Direzza as a "sub-brand" under Dunlop for racing tires, according to Andy Traicoff, director of Dunlop marketing in North America.
The Direzza GRP is for entry- and mid-level racers, while the drag slick is available in both front- and rear-wheel-drive versions for pro drag racers in the sport compact and custom race car classes, such as those sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association, International Drag Racing Association and Number One Parts Inc.
The tires—to be made at Goodyear´s race tire plant at its Akron Technical Center—will be available starting in early 2006 through authorized race tire distributors, Goodyear said.
Dunlop also broadened the range of the Direzza DZ101—"a performance tire with no manners," according to Traicoff—to 34 sizes to replace the FM901 line for sport-compact tuners.
Engineered and built in Japan for sport compact tuner cars, the Direzza Z101 is targeted at the fast-growing vehicle personalization segment—those who bolt on aftermarket parts to make a statement.
"Sport compact starts small, but thinks big. That´s what we had to achieve with the Direzza," Traicoff said in a statement. "With the popularity of sport compacts and the sport of drifting flowing from Asia to North America, the Direzza expansion was a natural extension."
According to Dunlop research, auto enthusiasts buy up to 10 percent of U.S. replacement tires—22.5 million tires—to upgrade sport compacts.
In addition to the product releases, Traicoff said efforts to revitalize the Dunlop brand are reaping some rewards. Dunlop launched three new tires at 2004´s SEMA show plus several marketing initiatives to boost the brand.
Traicoff said Web site traffic is up about 30 percent following new online promotions. One of these was a new program for consumers to buy tires through the Dunlop Web site and pick them up at a participating dealer.
"It´s a great program, our dealers love it," Traicoff said.
He added that Goodyear has made many capital investments in the business to improve longtime dealer complaints about Dunlop, primarily about fill rates.
"We´ve brought a lot of dealers back to the fold, a lot of people who historically had sold Dunlop and a lot of new customers," he said. "It´s really been refreshing to get kind of a resurgence on the retail side of the business."
For the 2005 SEMA show, Goodyear had a booth for only its Dunlop brand, not for Goodyear or Kelly. Traicoff said the Dunlop brand appeals more to the sport performance show with an emphasis on modifying vehicles.
Besides the new tires and a concept motorcycle with racing slicks, the Dunlop booth also featured the "tread-heads" haircuts plus a tattoo artist giving attendees permanent Dunlop logo tattoos in exchange for a set of tires. Traicoff said the tattoo artist´s appointments for the week were booked in the first two hours of the show. The booth also featured remote-control drifting cars.
"People are just having some fun with the Dunlop brand," he said.