A couple weeks ago, I was invited to San Antonio for a day of test-driving with Continental Tires. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’m not a big “car person” and I’ve certainly never been to a test track. And I had absolutely no knowledge or opinion on tires.
The day after we flew in (and a lovely dinner on the River Walk), we woke up bright and early to drive out to Continental’s “proving grounds”  . . . an expansive space dedicated to testing out tires. They wanted to show us the difference a good tire can make.
Our first task was to do a sudden stop test, to compare the performance of Continental’s tires to a competitor.
There was a fancy device hooked up to the dash that would measure the distance between hitting the brakes and actually stopping, to illustrate the lag time. As they explained, that lag time could be the difference between a close call and an accident.
We had to get the car all the way to 50 miles an hour and then make a sudden stop. I have to say, it was a little nerve-wracking to make a sudden stop like that. I don’t think I’ve ever slammed the brakes going that fast. But also? It was a little invigorating. It was also fascinating to see the difference in stop times from tire to tire. Continental had a clear advantage, stopping in almost half the time. I was beginning to see the light,
After the stop track, they had us drive on a “wet track” that involved cones and turns and obstacles. This was my favorite part. It was so much fun to be able to do some controlled risky driving.  They also had us compare tires on a skid track, where we had to get the car going over 60 miles per hour and then take a corner with water on the road. Basically, we were forcing our cars to fishtail. FREAKY. But oddly fun. And once again, Contintal came out the winner. It was much easier to control the car in their tires. (You can see me on the test track in this video):
In all of the testing conditions, in addition to comparing competitor tires, we were also comparing the difference between new tires and tires that had been worn down. Gulp. That was convicting for me. We’ve been really bad about replacing our tires, and the ones on my minivan were nearly bald. Our tests made it pretty clear that this was a safety risk, and honestly, its not one I’d considered before.
In the midst of our hard work (heh) testing tires, we also got to do some fun things. Like ride in a helicopter while chasing a car:
We did some off-roading in a buggy:
And after our long day, they took us to a ranch where we could try our hand at skeet shooting. This was my first time ever holding or shooting a gun.
This is how we west-coasters prepared for the shooting experience.

I can’t say Texas made a gun enthusiast out of me, but it did make me a tire enthusiast. This morning, Mark brought our car home from the shop with four new Continental tires installed . . . and while I’m hoping I won’t be doing any sudden stops or skids, I feel better knowing the tires can handle it if it happens. This post was sponsored by Continental Tires.