Most people find long distance road trips both exciting and tiring. Especially when you are just a few hours from home after a long day of nothing but driving.
Cruising up Interstate 94 in Michigan, just around the Allan Park area, you will certainly get tired – in a very literal sense.
Sitting at the side of the road is a 24 metre high real rubber truck tire weighing in at over 10 (metric) tonnes! It is the largest non-production tire in the world.
The wheel was created by Uniroyal (then U.S. Royal Tires) as a ferris wheel by the firm that designed the Empire state building (Shreve, Lamb and Harmon) for the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
During the fair the giant tire branded with the U.S. Royal Tires name held 24 gondolas carrying four people each. The gondolas were powered by a 100 hp motor. The interior of the tire is some 11,202 square metres and if the tire to actually fit on a giant truck, the truck would be over 60 metres high!
When the fair ended, in 1966 Uniroyal was very impressed by the tire and decided to strip the mechanics from the interior, dismantle the tire, and ship it in pieces to their head office in Allan Park, Michigan. The tire became an important symbol of Uniroyal’s 100+ year history and a cultural icon for the city of Detroit known all over the world.
Sadly the giant tire fell into disrepair and locals were known to take pot-shots at it with guns and bows. Frequently the tire could be seen with arrows sticking out of its thick rubber. There has been a long-standing urban myth that during a severe windstorm the tire rolled across the interstate. However no evidence of this has been produced.
In 1994 the tire received some modernising which included removing the “white-walls” and new hubcap to align with the modern vision of Uniroyal.
A few years later in 1998 Uniroyal came out with their NailGard® tire. To promote the product, a giant 3 metre nail was placed in the 30cm thick rubber tread to demonstrate the product’s ability to seal almost 90% of tread punctures up to 4mm in diameter. The nail was removed and sold at an auction in 2003.
During the Interstate 94 revitalization efforts of 2003, Uniroyal invested over one million dollars to refurbish the tire once again. These upgrades included a new steel sub-structure and even more modernising of the tires look and feel.
So if you are even cruising up the Interstate 94 just outside of Detroit, Michigan, be sure to get “tired” and check out one of the worlds more unique giant structures, the Uniroyal tire. It’s a one-of-a-kind site from a bygone era and is well worth stopping to examine.