Le Mans has always served as a proving ground for future road car technologies and it was no different in 1984, when BF Goodrich utilized experimental T/A Radial tires on a Mazda-powered Lola to claim class victory in the French endurance classic. (En Français)
The American tire manufacturer entrusted Jim Busby’s U.S.-based team to take on the FIA World Endurance Championship that year with largely production tires, outfitted on its pair of Lola T616 Mazdas in the C2 class.
Its highlight came at Le Mans, with John O’Steen, John Morton and Yoshimi Katayama claiming top honors, and the sister No. 67 Lola-Mazda of Busby, Boy Hayje and Rick Knoop finishing third in class.
“For years, we used racing as an extension of our tire testing,” said Lee Vandenberg, Vice President of R&D at BF Goodrich, at the time. “All that was done on the T/A Competition tires goes far beyond what most drivers could never imagine doing with their tires.”
BF Goodrich used the production 275/35VR13 tires in the front and 385/35VR13 in the rear. The new radial was able to pass tests for road use.
“The engineers responsible for developing the racing tires also had the task to evaluate the results and see how these tires could be transferred to the road,” Vandenberg added.
The team also enjoyed success beyond Le Mans, with podium finishes in the WEC races at Monza, Nurburgring and Fuji that year.