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Is Tire Fall-Off the Way to Fix “Broken” Tracks?

There's been an awful lot of talk recently about changing the layout at various track to make racing more exciting. Bristol is the most-talked-about track, with Bruton Smith planning a $1M revamp of the track to take it back to the way it was before he changed it in 2007.

There’s been an awful lot of talk recently about changing the layout at various track to make racing more exciting.  Bristol is the most-talked-about track, with Bruton Smith planning a $1M revamp of the track to take it back to the way it was before he changed it in 2007.

There are a number of factors that dictate how “exciting” racing is.  For example, the track width and how many “grooves” there are make a big difference in how easy it is to pass cars without “helping” them out of your way with your front bumper.  But last I looked, grip — the source of all speed — is dependent on the interaction of two things:  the tire and the track.  There’s a lot of talk about tracks, but not a lot of talk about tires.

Remember back a few years when tires were a topic of conversation every other week?  Tony Stewart lighting into Goodyear for the tires at Atlanta in 2008?  The Indy tire debacle that same year?  The 2005 Charlotte ‘levigation’ when they “smoothed” the track using a diamond grinder?  Tires aren’t much of a topic these days.  Goodyear’s done an amazing job amidst a slew of re-paving projects from Talladega and Daytona to Bristol and Michigan.

But have they done too good a job?  Some people have suggested that the tires stay in good shape for too long.  It’s possible to go multiple fuel runs without taking tires at many tracks.  If the tires wore faster, might that add an element to the racing that’s missing now by forcing crew chiefs to make tougher decisions about whether to take tires and drivers to take better care of their tires?  Harder tires don’t wear as fast as softer tires – but softer tires are more likely to fail by being worn down rapidly.  It’s a difficult balancing decision and the consequences for Goodyear if they’re not exactly right are significant in terms of how fans perceive the brand.  Take a look at the opinions below and tell me what you think.

5 thoughts on “Is Tire Fall-Off the Way to Fix “Broken” Tracks?

  1. Personally i have thought since sometime last year that they should make a tire that gives up (not necessarily in tire wear) halfwy through a fuel run so the people who would be fast at the start would fall off and the drivers easy on their tires go to the front at the end and also there would be a big unknown at the end when there might be/might not a caution. It would also help with the fuel milage races too.

  2. F1 cars don’t get faster in a run anymore. It is a shame that F1 has more falloff in their tires now than NASCAR. Goodyear needs to stop bringing these rocks to the track. It’s made the racing so static. There are no comers and goers through a run anymore and everyone is hotlapping the whole time with no passing on the big tracks.

  3. The problem isn’t with Goodyear; it is with NASCAR. Goodyear is in this to develop their tire technology (improve the breed); all tires, regardless of purpose are a compromise. Why do I say the problem isn’t with Goodyear? Because NASCAR allows only one tire manufacturer and more importantly, allows that company to bring only one type of tire to each event. Let Goodyear bring two, three, or even four different tires to each event (IndyCar’s Firestone brings two). Crew chiefs would then have to decide between excellent short-term grip but a tire that “falls-off” rapidly or having a tire with less overall initial grip but doesn’t fall-off much and lasts longer. Also, NASCAR needs to let Goodyear develop a wider tire that is more suitable to the COT rather than forcing Goodyear to continue within the design boundaries of the tire for the pre-COT car. Then, fix the damn aero problems with the COT, change the point system to further encourage leading, running up front, and finishing in the top-5, and the result would be that many of these boring races would be a thing of the past.

  4. Since Goodyear runs a business, they have considerations for selling tires on Monday in addition to providing race tires that make great races. Both considerations make them build tires that don’t fail. If NASCAR throws new cars at you, tracks throw new surfaces at you and crew chiefs throw new setups at you, and you have minimal research available, you’re going to build a harder tire just to be safe. Tires only stand out in races when they fail. So unless they get bad PR for a tire too hard (rare), they’re gonna keep erring on the hard side because the PR from blistering tires or tires with bad beads is way worse. And they have decades of sales research to prove this.

  5. Go to a 50 or 100 lap race on a short track and you can see tire drop off. It is also obvious which drivers know how to manage tires without slipping them. Plus you get to see a better race for a lot less money.

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