Disclosure: This post is part of a hosted stay. All opinions are my own.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Cooper Tires Vehicle Testing Center near San Antonio, Texas to road test their tires and learn more. I already wrote about a few of the tips that I learned, especially as they pertain to family road trips. I also wanted to write more about my experience in the road tests, and how I was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone to experience how tires work in extreme conditions.
We departed the Riverwalk in San Antonio early in the morning, and headed out to the testing center which is located about an hour away. We had heard all about the 14-acre wet pad that we would be driving on for much of the day, but I was so surprised to see how it looked just like a lake in the middle of the facility. Up close, it didn’t look nearly as deep, but it was still an intimidating sight.
After getting a briefing about Cooper Tires and the new CS5, we made our way out to the wet pad. There, we were called individually to do two sets of three laps – one set in a BMW outfitted with competitive tires, and one set in another BMW outfitted with the new Cooper CS5 tires. After taking one lap with a professional driver behind the wheel showing me the course, I set out in the first BMW.
To be honest, I was very worried about spinning out and hitting cones, which probably made me go a bit slower than I should have. The track is very safe, and I had the professional driver with me, so I could have gone very fast. But I did go fast enough on the wet surface to get some experience with the tires, and I was very impressed with the handling of the new Cooper CS5 Touring Tires. They gripped the surface well and I remained in control of the vehicle.
While we each took turns on the wet pad, we were individually called to ride shotgun with Indy legend, Johnny Unser, for hot laps in a Corvette Stingray outfitted with Cooper Tires. Although the practical application of those laps was minimal (I don’t plan to drive a Stingray anytime soon, unfortunately), that was my favorite part of the day. It was SO much fun!
After lunch, we headed out on two more driving experiences. First, we went back to the wet pad to see the difference between driving on two worn tires in the front and two worn tires in the back. Since drivers often don’t have the budget to pay for four new tires at once, they often will purchase just two. Based upon my experience driving, I definitely agree with the recommendation of putting the new tires in the back. There was a very obvious difference in the driving experience, and I felt much more in control of the vehicle with the new tires in the back.
Our last challenge was a distracted driving challenge. With a professional driver by my side, I completed an obstacle course while being distracted by my “child”, complete with a Nerf gun, radio station requests, and dropped stuffed animals. I’ve had quite a bit of experience driving with kids in my car, but I was still surprised to see how I didn’t even realize I was slowing down as I dealt with the distractions.
Check out the video below to see the highlights of my experience: