RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.—Falken Tire Corp. has ended its involvement in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship (TUSCC), wrapping up an eight-year run that resulted in six class wins.
Rancho Cucamonga-based Falken, a subsidiary of Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., said it will instead expand its support of multi-terrain grassroots motorsports programs, including drifting, autocross, road racing, off-road racing and rock crawling.
It stressed that the Falken brand will continue to compete in select European and Asian market road-racing venues. “While we're concluding what's been a very valuable and rewarding relationship with IMSA and TUSCC after this season, we look forward to following—and cheering on—the continued growth of American sports car racing under the expert guidance of IMSA President Scott Atherton and his entire accomplished team,” said Falken President and CEO Richard Smallwood.
Falken did not disclose what it has spent on its involvement in the IMSA and TUSCC programs. After starting solely as a tire supplier in 2008, the tire marketer founded its own team in 2009 to carry the Fal-ken colors on various derivatives of the Porsche 911 RSR.
Falken was the only tire brand other than Michelin available in the IMSA/TUSCC GT class for the past three seasons, after Goodyear's Dunlop brand exited the series after the 2012 season.
Rick Brennan, Falken's executive director of marketing, lauded Walker Racing and team manager Derrick Walker for the team's success, calling Mr. Walker a “trusted partner” and “invaluable adviser” to Falken's high-performance tire development and test program.
Falken Tire's decision dovetails with its consumer marketing and retail strategy—unveiled at the 2014 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show—which the company said was designed to build a strong foundation of North American consumer awareness.
Falken's other racing endeavors this year have included:
c Formula Drift—Drivers using Falken tires have earned 21 event victories and two championships in the past few years;
c Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)—Falken added contingency programs this year for SCCA autocross events, for drivers using Falken's Azenis RT615K tire in the SCCA National Tour, SCCA ProSolo and SCCA TireRack National Championship;
c Pro Touring—Falken took up the reins of road course sponsor of the Optima Ultimate Street Car Association (USCA) and the season-ending Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational, as well as serving as an event sponsor for the Good Guys AutoCross;
c Ultra 4 Series—Ultra 4 features purpose-built four-wheel-drive vehicles to traverse some of the harshest terrain found in North America. Race courses feature man-made and natural terrain, such as rock walls, combined with high-speed desert sections;
c Off-road desert racing—Falken Tire ventured into off-road desert racing for the first time, supplying SCORE International teams competing in the legendary Baja 500 and Baja 1000, among others, as well as a team in the Best in the Desert's Spec Trophy Truck class, with Falken Wildpeak M/T tires; and
c W.E. Rock Crawling Championship—Falken supported several teams.