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LA Deputy Sheriff 'Nabbed' for Dunlop Drivers Cup

AKRON, Ohio, Aug. 30, 2006 -- A Los Angeles County deputy sheriff has been selected to participate in the Dunlop Drivers Cup driving challenge.

Steve Woolem, 41, of Montebello, Calif., will be competing against 11 other amateur drivers at the U.S. Regional Qualifier in Danville, Va., on Sept. 11-15.

Woolem said the Virginia International Raceway event might be a "stretch" from his daily responsibilities with the Sheriff Department's fleet management unit. He now evaluates police vehicles for the department.

The deputy sheriff said he realizes Dunlop Drivers Cup is completely different from any other type of driving challenge. A unique competition, it includes on-track racing, autocross, off-road sport-utility, off-road all- terrain vehicle and motocross events to test the skills of hard-core driving enthusiasts.

Two two-driver teams from the three-day U.S. Regional Qualifier will represent Dunlop USA at the world Drivers Cup next year. The 10-day excursion is scheduled to travel through six European countries -- with driving events in each nation -- and finish on the African continent.

Janice Consolacion, brand planning manager for Dunlop in North America, said Cup organizers were impressed by Woolem's work in police-car development as well as his off-road motorcycle and ATV skills.

"Steve loves his job, but his fantasy is to be a racer. Through Dunlop Drivers Cup, he'll get a chance to fulfill that dream," Consolacion said.

Woolem said the drivers' challenge is another milestone in his lifelong love of the automobile. Another was driving a supercharged Ford Crown Victoria at the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's driver training course in Pomona.

"Ford entered the modified police car in the 2005 One Lap of America event. It was too big and too heavy, but it was the fastest car I've ever driven," he said.

Surely it was faster than his first car, a 1971 Ford Pinto. "My Dad gave it to me when I was 16. It cost him a hundred bucks. It was slow and it smoked, but I remember it handling really well," he recalled.

The deputy sheriff said he would use a "smooth, consistent and calculating" driving style in Virginia.

European Dunlop officials started Drivers Cup in 1998 to showcase Dunlop's racing heritage and its broad range of passenger, truck, motorcycle and all- terrain-vehicle tire lines. Dunlop SP Sport Maxx ultra-performance tires and Mud Rover off-road tires will be featured in the competition.

Dunlop is a global tire brand with an excellent reputation among performance car enthusiasts. Well known for its prestigious original- equipment fitments and sports car racing heritage, Dunlop is also a key supplier to sport compact enthusiasts featuring "tuner" tire sizes and race series sponsorships.

Woolen said he entered Drivers Cup after reading about it on Dunlop Tire's Website.

Applications are being accepted now for those interested in competing in the 2007 Dunlop Drivers Cup U.S. Regionals. To apply, go to