ow many companies does it take to
mount and balance 1,400 tires per race
weekend for a three-tier, open-wheel
ladder system? Just the one.
Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper Tire, the sole
provider of race tires for the Mazda Road
To Indy, handles it all and has done since
before the formalization of the Andersen
Promotions-run system that includes
Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000.
Its remit is to provide a unique tire,
specific to the demands for each of those
series, in separate road course and oval
track constructions. Accounting for front
and rear sets, plus dry and wet weather
iterations, that comes to 18 different tire
specifications. Feeder series or otherwise,
it’s a truly massive undertaking.
“We bring between three to five 53-foot
trailers filled with tires, plus our service
truck, to every Mazda Road To Indy event,”
says Chris Pantani, director of motorsport
for Cooper Tire. “On a given weekend, when
all three series are racing, it’s as many as
60 different cars that need tires.”
Cooper Tire manufactures all of its race
tires in Melksham, England, and it’s a
continuous operation with the team that’s
Stateside to juggle as many as four shipping
containers of tires that come across the
pond every month. To what end?
Well, there’s obviously the business
interest in selling the tires, but Cooper
Tire gives back to the series in spades as
thanks for that business. Over $100,000
worth of scholarship tires are awarded to
the champions of each series to be
utilized the following year, whether they
move up a rung within the system or stay
where they are to defend their title.
GRIP FOR THE LADDER
Cooper Tire is sole supplier for the Mazda Road To Indy. It’s a complex undertaking, but a successful one.
HThere’s also an abundance of training that
all participating teams and drivers get in
seminars hosted by people such as Johnny
Unser, who is a technical consultant for
Cooper Tire, or through active IndyCar
drivers like James Hinchcliffe and Simona
de Silvestro, and even Dario Franchitti, that
range in topics from tire tech, to driver
fitness, to media training.
“We first began supplying tires to the
USF2000 series in 2006,” says Pantani.
“When Pro Mazda came together in 2013,
we began supplying a spec tire for that
series as well. The last piece of the puzzle
fell into place once Dan Andersen, Mazda
and IndyCar added Indy Lights under a
unified system. Cooper Tire was awarded
that tire supply contract in 2014 and then
worked in conjunction with Andersen
Promotions and Tony Cotman on the
For Cooper Tire,
the race track is a
laboratory and testing
ground for technology
that will feed back
into its street tires.