Robbert Moree likes to attend the Members Meeting of the Goodwood Road Racing Club to keep in close contact. Something he takes very literally this time around.
It just happens to me, out of a black rubbery nothing. No idea where they all come from, but suddenly there are tires everywhere I can see. Stacks of tires in front and next to cars, tires half hidden underneath cars, tires that are being replaced and tires that are being inflated to the right and optimal pressure for the upcoming race. Quite extraordinary the such an important part of the motorcar consists mainly of air. Where we usually use the phrase ‘hot air’ to reflect on something being extremely overrated, the air inside a tire is, be it cold or hot, of the greatest importance. It provides comfort and safety, but it also gets rid of the heat that builds up during driving. I doubt however if the latter is the case during this icy cold members meeting.
There are tires in every price range, some drivers can’t really be bothered and just go for het cheapest tire, most drivers however do feel more reassured using a tire by a well known brand. Like with cars, where one will swear to always drive Opel, others BMW and some nothing but Toyota, with tires the brand is quite a sensitive subject. Where some wouldn’t be found that in car by the ‘wrong’ manufacturer, that same brand loyalty goes for tires. Michelin for one, Goodyear for the other. ‘Otherwise it just doesn’t drive like it should.’ Besides the essential link between the road and the vehicle, tires appear to be an article of emotion as well.
Here at Goodwood it’s mainly the fast and the furious when talking racing tire brands. Tires for a dry track and tires for rainy circumstances. It all takes a thorough taxation of the track condition up front and often leads to last minute changes of the tire strategy. During this particular Members Meeting it’s not just about dry and wet, the track is icy as well. No dry tarmac slicks today, so most pick the rain tires. Winter tires alas are hardly developed or suitable for racing. Cornering will be highly influenced by the soft compound of winter rubber.
Between the well known brands I am confronted with an Avon tire. Thank God there are still quintessential good old British things that will never change, not even during a proces of Brexit. That said, I’m sad to say that Avon tires, like so many British car manufacturers is no longer British owned. Avon, manufacturing tires for British automobiles, motorcycles and even trailers, for both road and track, is currently owned by Cooper, a modern American company that ‘only’ started making tires in 1914. 1957 up til 1963 were the glory years for Avon in racing. The likes of John Surtees, Roy Salvador and Carol Shelby are know by every racing enthousiast. Whether they rode bikes or drove cars, Avon tires where there to help them win there biggest successes. Since 1981 Avon is back in racing, adding more victories to their palmares.
Whether it is the emotion of my renewed acquaintance with a strong brand, or the sudden awareness that these common black things are actually the glue that has always kept racing together, never I would have thought that a stack of tires here and there would have changed the way I experienced a cold weekend like it did. There is no reason to blow that thought in the wind.