Long Beach: BFGoodrich preview

BFGoodrich® Tires readies for Long Beach round. LONG BEACH, Calif. -- BFGoodrich® Tires will have a hefty shipping bill after the Grand Prix of Long Beach, as the company is bringing 560 g-Force T/A® radial racing tires to the temporary road...

BFGoodrich® Tires readies for Long Beach round.

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- BFGoodrich® Tires will have a hefty shipping bill after the Grand Prix of Long Beach, as the company is bringing 560 g-Force T/A® radial racing tires to the temporary road course. BFGoodrich® Tires, presenting sponsor of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup, is specifying two dry compounds for the Long Beach race--medium and hard--and one full-wet compound. Totals for each compound are: medium, 400; hard, 60; and full wet, 100.

"We're going to bring our normal complement of mostly mediums, and a few hards, just in case there is a team there that needs a Band Aid or if it's incredibly hot there," said BFGoodrich® Tires Engineer Gary Blalock. "That's my standard routine for most circuits."

Although the Series has competed at Long Beach in the past, Blalock will still walk the course to ensure nothing has changed from year's past.

"I'll do my standard walk around to see if there are any changes there from last year," said Blalock. "They're city streets, so things can change.

"We don't run until late Friday, which is both good and bad," added Blalock. "Sometimes it's good to be the street sweeper so we can learn where the approximate braking points are and get the lay of the land. The track evolves so much from that first session to the next. After the Champ Cars get out there and 're-pave' it, the lap times sure don't mean anything and the setups are usually very different."

Blalock said the Long Beach circuit poses some unique challenges.

"Long Beach is a fast street circuit," said Blalock. "It's not like Denver or Miami. It's more like St. Petersburg or Washington, D.C., but doesn't have as much grip. The average speed is higher. Shoreline Drive and the pit straight are quite lengthy for a street circuit."

Blalock is recommending teams run 26 psi hot air pressure in the front tires and 24 psi in the rears.

"We make changes to our inflation pressures to maximize the drive off of the corners on all street circuits," said Blalock. "Rather than running a 'square' chassis with equal pressure front and rear, we prescribe a 2 psi reduction in rear pressure to try to maximize mechanical grip.

"There's really more rear tire wear at a circuit like Long Beach," added Blalock. "The cars are accelerating from a slower cornering speed. It's like a series of little drag races. So, to maximize your lap times, you try to concentrate on that drive off of the corner. Cornering speed is slow on all street circuits. Long Beach is a little faster, but it's still slow compared to a permanent road course."

The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running sports car racing series and celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2003.

The next Trans-Am Series race is scheduled for April 13, during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. The race will air on a same-day, tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel at 9 p.m. ET.

-bfg-

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Series Trans-Am