FINDLAY, Ohio (July 26, 2004) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. said it plans to begin producing racing tires in the U.S. with an $11 million investment at a plant in Athens, Ga., that currently produces retread materials.
Findlay-based Cooper said the conversion to motorsports tires should begin immediately with developmental tire production beginning in early 2005.
Initial production will include the Avon Tech R—a street-legal radial manufactured by Cooper exclusively for The Tire Rack—and the Mickey Thompson DOT ET street radial sold through the Mickey Thompson operation, owned by Cooper. The tire maker said the Athens plant will be configured to manufacture other racing products as needed to support the company's motorsports strategy. About 30 jobs will be added.
“The demand for our motorsports tires in the U.S. has outpaced our ability to produce them at our U.K. factory,” said Carl Casalbore, vice president of marketing and retail sales, referring to the plant in Melksham, United Kingdom, that handles racing tire production.
Cooper acquired the Athens plant in 1999 as part of the Standard Products purchase, which included Oliver Rubber. Cooper recently announced the consolidation of pre-cure retread manufacturing from Athens to the Asheboro, N.C., facility.