Fullerton-based Yokohama Tire Corp., the North American manufacturing and marketing arm of Tokyo-based Yokohama Rubber Co., wants you to know it is "making history" today at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, where each Porsche 911 race car competing in the Patrón GT3 Challenge series event is outfitted with the world's first "eco-friendly" orange oil-infused race tire. Yokohama ADVAN® ENV-R1™ race tires were created with technology combining orange oil with natural rubber to form a new compound called "Super Nano-Power Rubber."
The technology was first developed by Yokohama's motorsports division in the 1980s, but putting that in practice was stepped up due to the company's new "global environmental strategy." Besides reducing the need for petroleum by approximately 10 percent, the new tires are easier to recycle.
Yokohama says it will adapt the technology for passenger tires on the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid and other models this summer.
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"It's apropos that we're launching an orange oil tire among the citrus groves of Florida," said Mark Chung, Yokohama's director of corporate strategy and planning. "The development of this ENV-R1 will benefit race fans, consumers and the environment."
Alex Job, owner of Alex Job Racing, says the tires "have performed very well" since his team started testing them in February.
Many will embrace these eco-friendly boasts, while others will find difficulty getting excited about this breakthrough in a sport that still has vehicles running on petroleum bringing fans to Sebring, providing support functions and rounding the track. (Near as I can tell, GT3 Challenge rules stipulate the Porsches run on "commercial petroleum" with no more than 10 percent Ethanol.) Me, I have questions.
Will burning rubber soon produce a pleasing citrus scent? If these race tires are ever under race cars that run on alcohol, will they bottle and serve the liquid goo created by fiery crashes as screwdrivers in racetrack bars? And how much will the tire giant pay me for this marketing slogan: Orange you glad I said Yokohoma?