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Cooper will make racing tires in U.S.

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will start manufacturing racing tires at its Athens, Ga., retread materials plant early next year.

Initial production will include the Avon Tech R, a street-legal radial built by Cooper exclusively for The Tire Rack, and a Mickey Thompson brand street tire.

"The plant will be configured to manufacture other racing products as needed to support the company´s overall motorsports strategy," say Cooper officials.

The facility´s conversion to racing tire manufacturing represents an $11 million investment.

"Demand for our motorsport tires in the United States has outpaced our ability to produce them at our United Kingdom factory," says Carl Casalbore, Cooper vice president of marketing and retail sales.

The Athens factory will receive support from Cooper´s technical centers in Findlay, Ohio, and Melksham, England.

"Racing tire expertise also will be provided by Cooper-Avon´s European racing team and Mickey Thompson´s staff based in the U.S. We are enthusiastic about the potential this additional manufacturing capacity gives us to grow our motorsports presence."

Cooper acquired the Athens plant in 1999 as part of its Oliver Retreading Systems purchase.

The company recently announced the consolidation of its precure retread rubber manufacturing into a facility in Asheboro, N.C., which will create space needed for racing tire production.

Change-over to racing tire manufacturing will result in the addition of 30 jobs at Athens.

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