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Dunlop marking 125 years of pneumatic tires

BIRMINGHAM, England (May 13, 2013) — Goodyear Dunlop Europe is marking the 125th anniversary of the invention of the pneumatic tire with a 125th-themed entry at this coming weekend's ADAC Nurburgring 24-hour race.

The car—a GT3 version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG gull-wing two-seat sports car—is entered by Rowe Racing, which Dunlop Motorsports describes as a development partner team for its endurance racing tires.

The car is painted black with yellow accents and a "Dunlop 125 Jahre" logo on the doors.

For the annual round-the-clock enduro at the famed 15.5-mile Nurburgring "Nordschleife" course, Dunlop Motorsports is working with front-running 10 teams, which are running 17 cars. Dunlop said it will supply more than 4,000 tires to teams competing in the race this year.

Dunlop's anniversary refers to the invention in 1888 by Scottish veterinarian John Boyd Dunlop of the first viable pneumatic tire. He and other investors founded a company shortly thereafter bearing his name

That firm went through a number of iterations and evolutions over the decades following its founding. In 1984 Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Indutries Ltd.—a licensee of the brand name since 1964—acquired the European assets of Dunlop Holdings in 1984 and then two years later Dunlop Tire Corp. in the U.S.

Goodyear acquired 75-percent control of the Dunlop assets in Europe and North America in 1999 from Sumitomo, and the pair continue to operate the business as a 75-25 venture.

The Dunlop Motorsport unit is based in Birmingham at the traditional Fort Dunlop factory, where annual race tire output is listed as about 250,000 car and motorcycle competition tires a year.

More than 300 people are employed at Fort Dunlop in research, development, manufacturing, engineering and commercial teams.