FINDLAY, Ohio, Feb. 19, 2003) — Racing professional Johnny Unser has become a technical consultant for Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s ultra-high performance and racing tire product lines.
The son of racing veteran Jerry Unser and nephew of Indy 500 winers Al and Bobby Unser, Johnny Unser joined the Indy Car circuit in 1993.
Carl Casalbore, vice president retail sales and high performance tire development for Cooper, said Mr. Unser will add valuable insight into the design and manufacture of tires purchased by consumers who value both performance and appearance. “Our research shows that drivers expect control, handling, performance as well as style, speed and energy in their tires. Who better to help us meet those expectations in a tire than Unser, whose career depends on all of those attributes.”
According to Cooper, Mr. Unser will work closely with the Findlay-based tire maker's technology, research and sales teams to help create and market tires that deliver great quality, outstanding performance and exceptional value. It said Mr. Unser's experience with race tire performance will help Cooper transfer that technology to the consumer market.
In a prepared statement, Mr. Unser said the “technology and highly engineered performance and design that give Cooper racing tires excellent handling and control capabilities can also be applied to everyday driving. My role is to work with Cooper engineers to develop the highest-value, ultra-high performance tires for both car enthusiasts and those who race for a living. I'm proud to be associated with such a quality company.”
Mr. Casalbore noted that Mr. Unser's expertise also will be invaluable to Cooper Tire's independent dealers, wholesalers and retailers who want to offer their customers an affordable and reliable option in performance tires. “Our distribution network tells us that consumers are becoming more interested in their tires, especially in the growing sports car, sport SUV, and performance-car markets. Today's drivers view tires as true extensions of their cars. So if they buy cars for safety, performance and style, they should expect the same in their tires,” he said. “Johnny's expertise enables Cooper technology to deliver on that expectation.”
Mr. Unser, 42, has raced only sporadically the past few years, concentrating on the Indianapolis 500, where he qualified five times from 1996-2000, finishing a best of 16th in 1996. Outside of IndyCar racing, Mr. Unser has done endurance racing, including the 24 hour races at Daytona, Fla., and Le Mans, France, also done some rally racing.
Cooper markets motorsport tires under the Avon brand name both in the U.S. and Europe. Its Cooper-Avon Tyres Racing Division supplies race tires for F.I.A., Formula 3000 and the global Formula Ford series.