Turn 2 Blog: It wouldn’t be racing season without a tire controversy


*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the dirt racing topics of the day from east Tennessee and beyond.

Richard: Well, we’ve barely started the 2015 racing season and tires have already been an issue. But at least so far, it had nothing to do with tires that had been illegally treated.

Steve Casebolt won a feature race during the UMP/World of Outlaws Late Models weekend at Screven Motorsports Complex on American Racer tires. And this was not lost on drivers whose cars were shod with Hoosier rubber as several of them made sure to point out that the competing brand seemed to have an advantage.

I know we have discussed this before, but the subject of tires in dirt racing is one that will never go away. As I have stated before, I see nothing wrong with a little competition in the area of racing tires(and I said that before American Racer became a sponsor of this site). After all, racing is about competition. However, there has to be regulation involved or else the costs will get completely out of hand.

After having spent a recent weekend with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, I have to say that I like the approach they use regarding tires. Before hot laps begin, each team has to bring the tires they intend to use for that night to the series trailer to be approved and marked. They are then required to use those same tires throughout hot laps, qualifying and heat races with some changes allowed prior to the feature in certain instances.

Although the LOLMDS only allows one brand of tire to be used, it seems as if this is a system that could be employed by other series, no matter how many brands they allow, to keep costs in check.

Is there a right answer out there when it comes to tires in racing?

Michael: When you talk to racers, you hear different things regarding the differing brands. When you talk to folks that run these series, you hear something completely different. And when you talk to fans, they say they want open brand and open compound rule. But fans don’t have to buy tires.

It seems like whenever a driver on American Racers gets on a roll, their Hoosier counterparts start screaming about some sort of unfair advantage. A prominent driver from the Lucas Oil series implied that very thing just two years ago.

There is no right answer because so many people have such differing opinions on tires. And usually those opinions are because of vested interests.

Personally, I like seeing all tire brands being involved. I used to be in favor of an open compound rule. But with so many versions of the same tire, the open compound rule is a quick way to bankrupt the sport. I like only having a few compounds being legal because it cuts down on the costs and puts the competition back into the hands of the teams in other areas. I like the Lucas Oil tire rule a lot, I just wish other brands were legal as well. Competition, even among brands, is good for racing.

Richard: You’re definitely right about the open compound rule. Doing something like that would be detrimental. But as you say, a little competition among the brands with a limited number of choices in terms of compounds helps create more discussion, and ultimately more interest.

Aside from tires, there have been some other interesting developments here in the early part of the season.

For one, Josh Richards has left little doubt that he is completely back from a medical issue that sidelined him for virtually all of 2014. The Shinnston, WV driver notched his 50th career World of Outlaws Late Models win on Sunday night at Bubba Raceway Park in Florida after winning an unsanctioned race at Screven Motorsports Complex in Georgia last week. I was completely wrong when I anticipated him taking a couple of months to shake the rust off and get back in the groove.

At the same time, 2014 WoO Late Models champion Darrell Lanigan is not off to a very hot start at all.

One thing is for sure, that particular series needed another contender to emerge after the beating Langian put on the competition last year.

Michael: I agree. Nothing personal against Langian, but that series became rather boring last year when there seemed to be little competition for wins most nights. Richards coming back is a needed shot in the arm.

It was easy to think it might take some time for Richards to be fully back. He didn’t set the world on fire in the few races he entered at the end of the season. He and that team are already on their A-game. It will be interesting to see what that does for Rocket Chassis this season with so many of their drivers bolting for other chassis last year.

Richard: Bringing the discussion around to local subjects, there has been a bit of a strange trade off going on so far in 2015 between our area and Georgia. 411 Motor Speedway has hosted two events to date and both were won by residents of the ‘Peach State’.

Donald McIntosh from Dawsonville, GA won ‘The Hangover’ while Aaron Ridley of Chatsworth, GA was victorious in the ‘Sweetheart’. At the same time, Matt Henderson of Loudon, Tenn. went down to Golden Isles Speedway in Waynesville, GA and brought back a winner’s trophy from the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series race down there.

To me, the point of the above geography lesson was to point out that it seems to indicate the health of both the economy and the sport are currently such that race teams can branch out a bit further away from home to race than they could have a year or two ago. That, in turn, could be a good sign for car counts at the special events on this year’s calender.

Michael: I certainly hope so. I know some folks have complained about car counts at the Lucas Oil races at Golden Isles and at East Bay along with the WoO Late Models races at Screven and BRP. But both of these series are going head-to-head. The days of 50+ cars at any of these races are over unless the situation changes where only one race a night is taking place. At least there is more money out there for these racers to race for. I think that only encourages more of them to get out there and compete for it.

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