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TORC Drivers Win at Charlotte with Cooper Tires

Posted in Product Reviews on August 21, 2015
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Photographers: Courtesy of TORC SeriesCourtesy of Cooper Tire

On a hot and muggy July day I find myself touching down at the Charlotte, North Carolina airport. I didn’t know much about what I was going to be doing other than attending another short-course race, one of hundreds I have attended and covered in my career. This one was going to be different. Cooper Tire had a full schedule laid out for me, all surrounding the release of their new Discoverer STT Pro. As I headed to baggage claim, a representative from Cooper’s PR agency, The Zimmerman Agency was there to greet me. And so the adventure began.

Cooper Roster
Once I was settled in the hotel, it was time to head out to a special dinner set up with Cooper Tire executives and their sponsored drivers. Cooper sponsors some of the top drivers in the TORC series. Doug Mittag campaigns both a Pro-Light and a Pro-2. Mittag is currently the points leader in Pro-Light. Luke Johnson, also on Cooper Tires is a close second in points. There are other drivers on the roster including Scott Douglas and Mike Jenkins, Keegan Kincaid and ABC’s bachelor reality tv star Arie Luyendyk Jr. Excitement was building on what we were about experience at Charlotte Motorspeedway the next day. As we arrived at the race track, we had an opportunity to watch the drivers run their practice session. Everybody was setting down some really fast lap times. After practice, it was time for a ride-along in TORC’s custom built 2-seat pace truck. Going over the jumps blind and sliding sideways into the corners really puts into perspective what these talented drivers go through. What a rush! Quick, who has a truck for sale?

Cooper Tire has releases their newest tire, the Discoverer STT Pro
A set of new STT Discoverer Pro Tires sits waiting to be grooved and mounted on Doug Mittag’s race truck.

Ready for use right out of the gate
One of the coolest rules the Pro-Light class is the drivers are required to run DOT approved tires you can buy off the shelf at your local tire store. This means anyone can go out and buy the same winning tires Doug Mittag or Luke Johnson run for the race. Most of the time, the drivers will add a special groove to the tires for more bite and traction on the track. Groove patterns vary depending on driver preference and track conditions. Doug Mittag was pressed for time getting into the track for the first practice, so he and his team elected not to groove the tires. They quickly learned their Discoverer STT Pro tires allowed them to be fastest in practice on the Charlotte track right off the shelf. That information would play into their decision on a groove pattern for Friday night’s TORC race. Luke Johnson decided not to use new tires in practice, keeping his older STT Pro tires on the truck from the previous race in Crandon. Those tires already had 16 hard laps on them. Johnson said “running older Crandon tires speaks to the durability of the Cooper brand.”

Luke Johnson shows off his grooved Discoverer STT Pro Tires

The Discoverer STT Pro Durability
During the weekend, I learned about the abuse the Discoverer STT Pro Tire can take. I have literally watched hundreds of short-course off-road races and know that tires can be a key component in losing or winning a race. Drivers push their race trucks to the absolute limit and a tire failure will not only take you out of the race, but significantly affect your points standings. Cooper’s new Discoverer STT Pro has AmorTek construction that strengthens the side-wall. It features mud release dimples and scoops that prevent build up and improve traction even on super sloppy, muddy conditions, like a freshly watered TORC race track. The Discoverer STT Pro is also equipped with a new silica-infused tread compound. This tread compound improves wet traction making it an ideal tire for day to day traffic.

Scott Douglas explains his how he will groove his tires for Friday night racing.
Luke Johnson shows off a siping tool use to groove patterns in the tires to add more “bite” on the track.

Winning Drivers
Pro-Light was the first race of the night. We watched the race from Cooper’s VIP Media Suite. As the field went to green, it wasn’t long before Mittag shot out front and was leading the TORC field. Luke Johnson was there too, putting extreme pressure on Mittag. When the checkered flag flew Mittag won the race and Johnson was second. Cooper had secured the first 2 positions on podium for the first race of the night As for groove pattern for the race, Mittag elected to only add a slight groove in the rear. Mittag took the momentum right over the Pro-2 in the next race. Several laps into the race, Mittag was out front going for a Pro-2 win. Not just a Pro-2 win, but his first career Pro-2 win. A huge accomplishment for the young driver. All of the Cooper tire team was there to celebrate on the podium with him. Keegan Kincaid took second in Pro-2 giving Cooper another 1, 2 on the podium. In Pro-4, Scott Douglas secured a third place podium spot. It’s clear why Cooper has selected these drivers. They are winning drivers and their Cooper tires help them get to the podium every single race weekend. Not bad for a set of tires I can run on my street truck.

Doug Mittag takes a win in Pro-Light at Charlotte Motorspeedway
Doug Mittag racing towards his first career Pro-2 win at Charlotte.
The Cooper team celebrates Doug Mittag’s first career win in Pro-2.
Keegan Kincaid celebrates a 2nd place podium

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