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Asking Tony Talbert why General Tire goes racing is like asking him why he breathes. "To the American public you have to prove your tires through racing, and General Tire has rebuilt its name since 2005 in off road racing," said Talbert, who manages the off road program for a company that was one of the leaders in the sport in the 1980s, nowhere to be found in the 1990s and one of the leaders again today in both desert endurance racing and the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series presented by GEICO.

The focus in the 1980s was solely on the desert and endurance races like the Mint 400, Baja 500 and Baja 1000. But in October of 1987 the company was sold to Continental Tire AG of Hanover, Germany, and in the reorganization that followed the highly-regarded off road racing program was suspended.

Talbert said some reorganization was needed, especially in the U.S., so "from a corporate standpoint it was the right step to take at the time, (although) somewhat heartbreaking for those of us that were there. But certainly we were gratified to be able to come back in 2005."

"A lot of people were happy to see us come back, too," event coordinator Spencer Robinson said, "because we had such a good reputation back in the '80s with our motor sports division and that never went away. We were doing it then and we're doing it now."

The way the company is doing it is different, though, because of the growing popularity of the Lucas Oil series and short course racing. Talbert said that for now the emphasis General Tire places on the desert and short course programs is "relatively equal. But the short course, the Lucas Oil people know how to put together a sponsor valuable program and with the media coverage they generate that's all value added.

"We're going to continue desert, there's no way we're stepping out of that, but we're certainly looking at short course more and more."

The off road program primarily is a way of selling the GT red-letter "Grabber," a tire designed for light truck and off road use. The Lucas Oil Pro Lites and several of desert classes use the production tire (Pro 2 and Pro 4 use specially-constructed race tires) and Talbert said that marketing decision was the reason the company came back to the sport in 2005.

"We saw the perfect fit," Talbert said. "We already had a good relationship with Lucas Oil at the time so it was perfect in a couple of different ways. It was an obvious step for us to come into short course racing. It's a great series and it really does prove our products."

That's true at every level. General Tire also is the official tire of the Best in the Desert series and was the first tire company to establish a contingency program for the Lucas Oil Regional series.

There are 13 teams competing for Team GT in the main short course series, with a driver roster that includes Carl Renezeder, Casey Currie, Robby Woods, Kyle Lucas, Ryan Beat and Ray Griffith.

In addition, General Tire is an enthusiastic member of Team Lucas, the marketing program that gives its members a presence in all forms of action sports nationwide. And Talbert said even though the company has no direct involvement in some of the series it is sold on the concept.

"Our name is out there with every bit of that," Talbert said, "and our relationship with Team Lucas is one of the most valued relationships we have in our entire company worldwide. It's just that strong. Spencer and I value it and our company values it greatly."

About General Tire: For more than 95 years General Tire has offered a complete quality line of ultra-high performance, passenger, light truck, off-road and commercial tires to meet all your needs.  General Tire is a proud supporter of Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series, Best in the Desert Racing Series, Major League Fishing, Chili Bowl, Pro-Pulling, Late-Model Dirt Series, Drag Boat Series, American Sprint Car Series, FreestyleMx.com Tour, Zero One Odyssey, and Spec Tire of Trophylite and JeepSpeed. 

General Tire is part of Continental Tire the Americas, LLC. (www.generaltire.com).  With preliminary sales of €32.7 billion in 2012, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires, and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has more than 170,000 employees in 46 countries.

What is Team Lucas? It's an entertainment package for race fans across the country and a dynamic advertising and marketing medium for company's everywhere.  Team Lucas showcases the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, Lucas Oil Pro Pulling Series, Lucas Oil Modified Series Presented by Loan Mart, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing presented by GEICO Powersports, Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series, Lucas Oil Speedway, Lucas Oil Production Studios, and yes, a presence in the the Indianapolis Colts Lucas Oil Stadium.  In short, the most well rounded, action packed entertainment package ever offered.  These Team Lucas entities represent over 300 annual live events, trumping that statistic is our 350 plus hours of prime time programming on national and international levels, orchestrated by Executive Vice-President Bob Patison.  All this adds up to enough adrenaline to stop your heart and then jump start it again!  Team Lucas is a full circle grass roots marketing powerhouse designed to entertain the audience and perform for its partners!

For more information please visit www.GeneralTire.com orwww.LucasOil.com.