The National Tire Research Center, located in Halifax County adjacent to the Virginia International Raceway, will have a ribbon cutting on 24 Oct. for its renovated facility. The $14-million National Tire Research Center was created in 2010 through a collaborative effort led by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in alliance with the Virginia Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, General Motors, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.
An $11.3 million force and moment tire test machine known as a “Flat-Trac LTRe” that measures tire performance has been custom-built for the tire research center by MTS Systems Corporation of Minnesota. The machine is unique in its use of electric motor technology and can run a tire up to 200 mph. It provides data on handling, ride, torque, and braking capabilities on various surfaces, including on wet road conditions.
Facilities also include the Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion (SoVa Motion) Laboratory, which has an eight-post test rig, wheel force transducers, and simulator lab. Proximity to the Virginia International Raceway creates synergy, enabling researchers and commercial customers to take what has been done in the laboratory testing environment and see if the results can be replicated on a closed-course circuit. Therefore, motorsports involvement is expected and projects are already under way.
In addition to research, companies would pay the center by the hour to run independent tests.