Gail Truess and I at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Gail Truess and I at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Before you drive down the road, how much real thought do you put into one of the biggest safety features on your vehicle? Your four tires and their performance can make all the difference.

My newfound appreciation for the need for quality tires comes after spending an exhilarating day speeding up to 100mph around the 2.23-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.

Cooper Tire has teamed up with Lucas Oil School of Racing to show off just how great its tires really are. All the school’s Formula cars are outfitted with the Cooper Tire ultra-high-performance Zeon RS3-G1. (In case you’re wondering, the G stands for G-force, and is a testament to the tires’ grip going around G-force corners.) Cooper Tire’s devotion to technological and material advancement is well-respected within the tire community. Recently, the team let me and eight other journalists find out the deal for ourselves on Laguna Seca’s infamous corkscrew corners.

A tire can make all the difference!
A tire can make all the difference!

The partnership between Cooper Tire and Lucas Oil School made for one of the most memorable and adventurous days of my career. As my group was greeted by the instructors and drivers, the anticipation to get behind the wheel was palatable. You too can have the same experience and test Cooper Tire for yourself!

The experience

To start, the Lucas instructors provided us with a safety tutorial and a lesson on the finer points of cornering at speed. We then set off on practice runs, which culminated with one-on-one races against the schools’ seasoned drivers. My race was against former Indy driver Johnny Unser. From the starting line to a few corners later, unsurprisingly, Johnny opened up a healthy lead in spite of my best efforts. But what really surprised me was how confident I had already become in my tires’ grip and handling at speed.

Johnny Unser talks to the class while RC Enerson demonstrates
Johnny Unser talks to the class while RC Enerson demonstrates

Later, I rode shotgun with Indy driver RC Enerson while getting a feel for the track with a professional driver. It felt like we were riding on rails as he powered into the turns at high speeds in a new Ford Mustang. I was taken aback by what little noise came from the tires as the car took the high-speed turns.

Another wild run came alongside driving coach Jonathan Jorge. I felt like a kid on a roller coaster speeding through the corkscrew and feeling the car drop a few stories!

In one more thrilling ride, I tried to catch up with rally car driver Gail Truess. We were in the school’s formula cars and hers seemed to quickly disappear into the track. I tried to keep up for the first two laps. I was impressed by Gail’s confidence and ability. As we were getting out of the cars in the pit lane, Gail said with a huge smile, “Isn’t racing addicting?”

On the track
On the track

At the end of the day, and just to drive the point home further, Cooper Tire arranged a comparison test: two Ford Mustangs, one supplied with the Zeon RS3-G1 and the other with one of its major competitors. The competitor’s tires sell at a comparable price and carry similar ratings, but the performances were miles apart. The competitor’s tires just felt sloppy and unstable in the corners and had little of the road-gripping ability of the Zeons.

RC Enerson, Indy driver
RC Enerson, Indy driver

The Bernardus Lodge and Spa

The Cooper Tire team were wonderful hosts, putting us up at the fabulous Bernardus Lodge and Spa in the picturesque Carmel Valley. It was the perfect place to relax and an easy 10-minute trip from the Laguna Seca track. This renowned lodge has an elegant charm and a tranquil rustic atmosphere that inspires total surrender from modern day stresses and exhausting days at the track.

Bernardus Lodge and Spa
Bernardus Lodge and Spa

The hotel offered epicurean food in an idyllic setting. The cheerful staff greeted me with a glass of sauvignon blanc after my drive in from the San Francisco airport. The lodge is located in the heart of wine country, surrounded by colorful aromatic herbs and flowers throughout. The food served here is organic and grown locally. There are honey bees on location and Chef Cal Stamenov makes sure that many of his recipes include their delicious Monterey Gold honey.

Bernardus Lodge and Spa
Bernardus Lodge and Spa

My room was cozy, with fine textures including a soft mohair throw on the chenille bed. A welcoming fireplace with a picturesque view of the pool from the balcony. I loved walking barefoot on the wide-plank wood floors and especially on the heated herringbone marble floors in the spa-like bathroom. The healing atmosphere was incredible. I’m looking forward to returning soon!

More on the Zeon RS3-G1 (and a $100 offer)

The Zeon RS3-G1 is a very special all-season performance tire. In my opinion, the Cooper team has every right to be so proud of it. The company’s research and development team has been working hard not only at making improvements to its material make-up and design, but in coming up with a quick and foolproof method of checking your tire depths.

Significantly more silica has been added to the Zeon RS3-G1, which no doubt helps give it extra bite on the asphalt corners. The tire’s thread design is state of the art and designed to disperse water and light snow quickly. The team has also added siping (small channels) that helps remove water and increase traction and grip. The tire even looks more solid and durable as the designers have added more rubber to the shoulder, providing a square design and ensuring an overall smooth ride.

The new and innovative way of identifying the remaining thread life on a Zeon RS3-G1 is a simple square that’s replicated in three places around the tire. As the tire thread wears down, the squares will begin to disappear until you see an exclamation mark. The Zeon RS3-G1 has a very respectable 50,000-mile thread wear warranty for the ultra-performance tire.

I have been guilty in the past of basing my tire choice solely on finding the cheapest deals. But the amazing fact is that these Zeons are so competitively priced and offer so much more than my previous choice of tire. Even better: Cooper Tire is now offering a $100 reward when you buy four before October 31, 2017. Cooper Tire products are available at most national tire supplier and now at

For more on Cooper Tire and the Zeon RS3-G1—as well as how to get $100 back—check out



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