LAS VeGAS, Oct. 31, 2016 — Four decades ago, light trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles were just beginning to captivate drivers' attention. They were drawn to vehicles that enabled them to escape the pavement and seek adventure in places that were yet inaccessible. Often the trucks were capable, but the tires were not — until BFGoodrich® Tires answered the call in 1976 with a revolutionary radial all-terrain tire, the BFGoodrich Radial All-Terrain T/A®, that redefined an entire class of vehicles for generations to come.
BFGoodrich officially celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Radial All-Terrain T/A tire line at the SeMA Show in Las Vegas this week. BFGoodrich remains an all-terrain industry leader today, equipping millions of recreational light-truck, JeeP® and 4-wheel-drive enthusiasts for their daily adventures while empowering tough and stable performance for off-road racing. BFGoodrich has sold more than 5 million of its latest all-terrain tire, the All-Terrain T/A® KO2, since it was launched in 2015.
In the mid-1970s, most tires were designed either for paved roads, or for off-road trails, but not for both. Yet drivers wanted a tough off-road tire with on-road manners. The tire products of the day lacked versatility ― off-road tires were unruly on the road and on-road tires withered off-road.
BFGoodrich engineers traveled to Baja California, Mexico, in 1975 to test a new concept ― a radial light-truck tire for off- and on-road use. They learned quickly that they could use the Baja peninsula as a real-life laboratory to develop tires. If the tires could withstand the grueling terrain of Baja, they could survive almost anywhere else.
A year later, BFGoodrich launched its first radial all-terrain tire, the BFGoodrich Radial All-Terrain T/A®, testing the new tire's durability in the SCORe Baja 1000 desert race. Mounted on an Oldsmobile Starfire, perhaps the most unlikely desert-racing vehicle, the team didn't win, but it did succeed. The experiment strengthened the brand's resolve to build and race unmatched light truck tires. Returning the next year, BFGoodrich claimed the first off-road win for a radial all-terrain tire, as Frank "Scoop" Vessels raced his Ford F-100 to class 8 wins at the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 that year.
These keystone moments marked the beginning of what has become a story of unrivaled desert-racing success for a tire company — 86 overall wins in SCORe Baja racing over the next 40 years, more than all other tire manufacturers combined. Those early racing successes also launched a revolutionary new tire category that contributed to the growth of the entire light-truck and four-wheel-drive industry.
BFGoodrich timed the market perfectly for the introduction of the radial all-terrain — a light-truck tire that provided low noise, smooth ride, long tread life, great traction and toughness. BFGoodrich set the standard for an entirely new product category that, according to industry experts, contributed to the meaningful shift in driver preferences for the light truck that would continue for decades to come.
"I would say that the BFGoodrich Radial All-Terrain T/A revolutionized the Jeep and 4x4 market when it was introduced in 1976," said Rick Pewe of Four Wheeler Network. "The new tread pattern, white-letter sidewalls, and radial construction were unlike any other tire produced. It was a hot seller for a reason — it worked."
In a short span of time, BFGoodrich expanded its portfolio from one product and one size for the light truck segment to 10 products today, with seven of those tires claiming Baja class championships. BFGoodrich currently has more than 200 different sizes in the market and also ranks among the market-share leaders in the recreational light-truck category.
BFGoodrich Tires Radial All-Terrain milestones include:
1975 - BFGoodrich goes to Baja California, in Mexico, to test its all-terrain tires
1976 - BFGoodrich enters the SCORe Baja 1000 desert race to test its radial all-terrain technology; BFGoodrich Tires launches the first radial all-terrain tire (Radial All-Terrain T/A®)
1977 - BFGoodrich Tires claims its first SCORe Baja desert race class title at the Baja 500 and 1000, on the new Radial All-Terrain T/A®
1986 - Second-generation Radial All-Terrain T/A® released
1999 - Third-generation all-terrain (Radial All-Terrain T/A® KO) released
2015 - Fourth generation of all-terrain tire (Radial All-Terrain T/A® KO2) released.
"I can remember when I started recreational wheeling that you aspired to the all-terrain tire that would go anywhere and do it for 60,000 miles," said John Herrick of Crawl Magazine
"I drove 110 miles a day in my round-trip commute through Seattle in a Jeep Cherokee that every month leaned more toward trail rig and became less friendly on the highway. The one constant was the tires. With the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A, I could still get 20 mpg on Interstate 5 while getting anywhere on the weekend in Western Washington and beyond. I knew they would last and I knew they wouldn't let me down," Herrick said. "Just hearing the name conjures up the greatest memories of adventure for me. There is nobody else with as strong and well-earned reputation for a single tire that will take you anywhere on the planet."
Forty years ago, revolutionary thinking brought about innovative engineering to set the standard for radial all-terrain tires and ignited a racing passion within the brand, both of which continue today.
About BFGoodrich® Tires
With more than 100 years of heritage, BFGoodrich® Tires is dedicated to providing high performance tires for those who have a passion for driving in virtually any environment. Combining technical expertise with 45 years of motorsports experience, BFGoodrich Tires delivers tires for a full range of driving experiences from ultra-high performance street to off-road terrain with one common theme - extreme performance. Come upgrade your performance with BFGoodrich and see where our tires can take you at www.BFGoodrichTires.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BFGoodrichTires or on Twitter at @BFGoodrichTires.
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BFGoodrich Tires is dedicated to providing high performance tires for those who have a passion for driving in virtually any environment. Combining technical expertise with 50 years of motorsports experience, BFGoodrich delivers tires for a full range of driving experiences from ultra-high performance street to off-road terrain with one common theme – extreme performance. Come upgrade your performance with BFGoodrich and see where our tires can take you at www.BFGoodrichTires.com, www.BFGoodrichRacing.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @BFGoodrichTires.