Ever wonder what's inside Uniroyal's giant tire along I-94 in Allen Park? The answer is: a whole lot of metal supports and a stairway to the top. Not much else.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the tire, which came to Michigan from the 1964 World's Fair, where it was a working Ferris wheel, Uniroyal opened the behemoth to journalists Wednesday, giving them a rare glimpse inside the 80-foot structure.

After a half century, the tread's still holding up pretty well, and it's not likely to deteriorate anytime soon; instead of rubber, the exterior of the tire is made of a Uniroyal-developed polyester resin reinforced with glass fiber. A car proportionate to the size of the tire would be 200 feet tall.

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About 2 million people rode it during the World's Fair in New York, including Jacqueline and Caroline Kennedy and the Shah of Iran. The 12-ton tire was disassembled and sent to Detroit by rail, where it was resurrected along the expressway and has greeted local motorists and visitors on their way downtown from Metro Airport.

"People know us by that tire," Allen Park Mayor William Matakas said.

Michael Martinez

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