Most drivers don't think about their tires until they get a flat. That's a shame, because tires are what connect the car to the road and keep the driver in control. Car racing teams understand that. That's why they use high performance tires tailored to their particular form of racing. Technology from those specialized tires has trickled down to production cars.
You've probably noticed that the tires on your car have grooves in them. These groves allow the tire to channel things like water, or even snow and slush, away from the car. If you have off-road or all-terrain tires on your car, the grooves are likely very deep and the rubber very bumpy. That type of tire gives the car teeth that can grip uneven or loose surfaces. If you have a sports car, the tires likely have a fewer number of grooves and the grooves are typically shallower. That allows more of the tire's rubber to maintain contact with the road, making the car handle better. All of these innovations and the development of different tire types came from racing.
Like most racing technologies, high-performance racing tire technology has been translated into production cars for everyday use. For example, F1 and NASCAR cars use tires with very soft rubber. That rubber gets sticky when it's heated, which helps hold the car to the track. While that may sound great, don't go buy a set of racing tires just yet. That softer rubber has a short wear life -- you'll notice that a race car gets several new sets of tires over the course of a single race -- while the tires on most production cars are designed to last for many tens of thousands of miles. Many basic tire designs have evolved from racing innovations, but once again, production cars have put it to everyday use.
It's not time to stop reading yet! Check out the next page to learn how racing technology literally put the brakes on your car.