I think my real fascination began when I needed to purchase a set of tires for my Land Rover LR4. I went off-roading once and hoped to do it again so I wanted tires that would support that kind of activity while lasting a long time with typical over the road traveling. The Land Rover weighs close to 2 tons so that is a lot of pressure on the tire. I had purchased a set of inexpensive tires previously for the Land Rover and they didn’t even last 10 months! This time I wanted the tires to last, even if I had to pay more. My family used to own and operate a tire store for 45 years where my brother was the salesman for many of those years. For my new set of tires my brother explained to me what treads would grip the road better and what type of tire had better rubber allowing the tire to last longer. The more expensive tires only cost me an additional $200 for the set and were a world of difference for performance and durability. I was hooked! My brother proved how invaluable a knowledgeable salesperson can be.
ITEC proved to be the honey-hole for all that the tire world has drawn me into. This convention educated the engineers on rubber, plastics, molding, chemicals, machinery and everything an engineer of all walks would need to know about the making of a tire from A to Z. I visited every booth, asked questions, soaked up a lot of information and picked up some cool pens and tire swag along the way.
If you’re like me, you would think that the majority, if not all, the tires are manufactured somewhere in the Midwestern region of the USA. Actually, of the top 50 tire manufacturers, only 3 are headquartered in the USA: Goodyear, Cooper and Carlstar Group, which is a producer for specialty tires for agriculture and construction. 18 (35%) of the top 50 are headquartered in China. A few of the other top producers of tires are headquartered in Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia, Canada and India. Tire operations for the USA are mostly planted in the Southern and Midwestern states. Bridgestone, Carlstar, Continental, Cooper, Goodyear and Michelin produce the majority of their auto and light truck tires in states like Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma and Alabama. In the USA the top producers of racing tires are Hoosier Racing Tire Corp. and Goodyear.