Designing and producing a competitive race tire is a demanding task. Depending on the race series, a tire company may have to design and build new tires for each race.
But building them is only part of the equation. Getting them to the track is a logistical dance that consumes as much resources as building them.
Race tires for the prestige series are so sensitive they often must be transported from the factory to the track in climate-controlled containers. That includes the time spent in the hold of an airplane-the tires needed for high-profile events like ALMS are air-freighted to each event-from France in Group Michelin's case, Italy in Pirelli S.p.A.'s case, etc.
Should the tires be overheated or cooled too much during transport, they could be rendered useless at the track. Racing tires, which have only about 3/32nds of an inch tread depth, are designed to operate most effectively at temperatures of 220 to 280 degrees Fahrenheit, Michelin said.
As it is, up to half of the tires built for any particular race may not be used and have to be scrapped out after the race weekend.
In addition, every tire has a serial number, and the tire company reps have to account for every single tire that arrives at the track. At times that might even include walking the track at the end of a day to retrieve bits and pieces of a tire that came apart during practice, qualifying or the race.