If you’re one of those who think there’s nothing sexy about tires, well then you haven’t seen BFGoodrich’s latest development. The tire company has long been a name synonymous with racing and it has once again left its mark, thanks to last week’s Red Bull Frozen Rush event.
Now in its second year, Frozen Rush features nine of the best Pro 4 off-road truck drivers in a head-to-head, single-elimination competition on a course built right into a ski slope. Last year, BFGoodrich featured a brand new, state of the art tire at the event, taking them on the road to Sunday River Ski Resort in western Maine to show off just what they’re capable of in snow and ice. The tires were such a hit – and an integral reason the event was successful – that the company returned for year two.
Every truck at this year’s event was fitted with BFGoodrich’s All-Terrain T/A FR2 tire. While this might sound like a mouthful, the characteristics are really fairly simple. The tire manufacturer took its mud-terrain tires, the same ones Ricky Johnson, Bryce Menzies, Scott Douglas and the rest of the drivers use in the dirt and sand, and modified them in a small, yet time consuming, way.
Normal tires would not be able to handle the snow and ice combination in the frigid Maine temperature – instead of plowing through the landscape, the tires would simply spin out. The All-Terrain T/A/ FR2 tire is equipped with spikes that allow for better traction and control – about 700 spikes to be precise. The design of the spikes provide drivers with the ability to reach speeds of close to 100 mph, while hitting turns, 50-foot jumps and eight-foot tall berms, often with the greatest of ease.
“The tires are the key to it,” Douglas, who drives the AMSOIL truck, admitted. “Without the studded tires, we could never get any traction. You could take our normal tires and try and make it up that hill and you wouldn’t make it 10 feet – even with the four wheel drive. A lot of times, we get more bite in the snow with those spiked tires than in the dirt.”
Every team uses the tires for Frozen Rush, offering no advantage to one team or another. With nine drivers competing, BFGoodrich had to make certain there were enough tires for the two-day event, bringing four for each team and several spares, just in case – about 50 total. Toughness was a major factor when designing these tires and the company swears by each and every one.
“Even in snow and ice, if you look back from the first event into this year, we have yet to lose a stud,” said Jon Jewell, a design engineer for BFGoodrich.
Frozen Rush is the only event currently using the studded tire, which allows Jewell and the BFGoodrich staff plenty of time to test the tires, which take about eight hours to make. And with over 40 years of providing tires for various motorsports, the company certainly knows what it’s doing.
“The carcass of the tire, without the studs, goes through an involved testing process,” Jewell added. “It goes through the development cycle, which includes a lot of on-track testing, partner-driver testing and endurance testing. After we’ve added the studs, we do essentially the same process again.”
And although some of the drivers weren’t familiar with the tires, they’ve earned rave reviews.
“I’ve never drove on studded tires before, so this is all new to me,” RJ Anderson, the youngest participant at Frozen Rush, admitted. “But I’m super impressed with how much traction you get and how much control you get with these studded BFGoodrich tires.”