GREENVILLE, S.C.—Those used tires coming off race cars running in the International Motor Sports Association are black gold to researchers at Michelin North America Inc.
Every turn, every hill, every course puts to the test the company's tires, which are collected after each race and analyzed to provide valuable insight into performance.
The details then are used to not only improve the company's racing tires, but in the development of Michelin's traditional tires sold to the general public, said Tom Sullivan, motorsports marketing manager at the Greenville-based tire maker.
While it's nice to get a name boost by being the official tire supplier to IMSA, Michelin does not look primarily at the partnership as an advertising vehicle.
"We're not a company that needs a tremendous amount of awareness. People know the Michelin brand. It doesn't hurt to connect a little bit more with your consumers through racing directly. That's one of the reasons we race. But really it's a technology development," Sullivan said.
This technology transfer from the racetrack to the roadway is the driving force behind the world's largest tire manufacturer's involvement.
"It is really a laboratory where you can test a tire in the most extreme conditions, get the most amount of data and really get a jump start on the development because you've got that tremendous amount of data," Sullivan said.