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Race Tire Technology For Your Daily Driver

Posted in How To on July 3, 2013
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Justin Lofton slides his car sideways, at full speed, through a silty corner.

Have you ever been off-roading in sand, mud, or snow and experienced that moment of unease when your speed starts to decrease and the rpm start to increase? Did you wish you had more traction? Your tires are the only things between you and the ground. If your tires don't hook up, you go nowhere. Tire engineers don't call it hooking up; they use the term "bite." There is a tire made by General that gives so much bite that they named it the Grabber. The Grabber was designed from the start as a race tire before being made available for street use. If they can survive the punishment that racers dish out, they will have no problem with anything you will see.

There is a famous saying that goes, "What wins on Sunday sells on Monday." Spectacular action photos and videos of drivers hoisting trophies into geysers of champagne sell tires to some, but people who use their trucks off road care most about how their tires perform. Because the Grabber was designed as a race tire, it was created by engineers whose only concern was pure function. "We started by doing intensive research," said Tony Talbert of General Tire. "We talked to veteran racers, we examined what the competition was doing, and we used our knowledge base that we have amassed in our nearly 100 years of tire manufacturing experience to come up with a tread design that was very aggressive in forward bite and side bite without having a tendency to follow the ruts." General Tire engineers did their part, and now it was time for the racers to put the Grabber to use.

Garrick Freitas is hard on the gas exiting a sandy corner.

We sat down with some of General Tire's racers at the Best in the Desert Parker 425 to find out what they thought about the Grabber. The General Tire team contains a mix of highly experienced veterans like Jerry Whelchel, Rick Johnson, and Macrae Glass, and steady performers like back-to-back Vegas to Reno winner Garrick Freitas, NASCAR racer Justin Lofton, fast-on-two-wheels (or four) Mikey Childress, and 1600 champion Jason Coleman. New to the team this year are very fast newcomers Ray Griffith and Harley Letner.

Ray Griffith makes his way through the infamous Goat Trail at the Parker 425.

"The forward bite is insane," said Letner. "Usually on the pavement I just spin my tires, but with Grabbers on my Alpha, I pull the front end up when I hit the gas. Parker has a lot of sand, but there are rocky and hard-packed sections, too."

Lofton had similar feedback. "Our Jimco is putting out a lot of horsepower. The Grabbers let me get that horsepower to the ground. Instead of sliding around, I can put the car where I want it.."

Freitas explained how the Grabbers helped him win the BITD Vegas to Reno (V2R) race two years in a row. "We've done very well at V2R. It's a long race and the key is to get in long runs between stops with no problems. By braking late in the corners and getting back on the gas early, you pick up time in every corner. By the end of the race, those seconds add up to minutes. Our Generals are super strong; we rarely have one go down, even when I accidently smack a rock I should have avoided."

General Tire's engineers get data and feedback from the racers that cannot be obtained any other way. Consumers get a huge payoff in performance and peace of mind when they venture off road.

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