By admin | October 3, 2011
By Richard Allen
On Monday morning NASCAR and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company jointly announced that the tire manufacturer has been granted an extension to the deal which gives them exclusive rights to supply tires for the sport’s top three divisions through 2017. In the opinion of this writer, that was a less than exciting announcement.
This NASCAR season has featured an unusual number of races in which the endings have come down to fuel mileage stretch runs with drivers spending more time coasting to save enough gas to limp to the end than actually racing. A big part of that has been due to the fact that the tires brought to the track by Goodyear each week are so hard that they don’t wear away. Thus, teams are not forced to bring their cars to pit road often enough to take fuel mileage out of the equation.
While to the novice it may sound like good news that the tires hold up so well over long runs, the reality is that hard tires make for less competitive racing and give rise to parade formations on most tracks. Hard tires do not grip the track surface as well as softer tires and in turn make side by side racing less probable. The recent events in New Hampshire and Dover have provided a great deal of proof to back that statement.
Every time this topic is raised there are a multitude of talking heads who take to television and radio microphones to hurl the phrase “This sport doesn’t need a tire war” in all directions. These people have been too long engrained in a form a racing that everyday removes more and more choices and replaces them with mandates.
Dirt Late Model racing offers some of the best competition in all of motorsports and both the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and the World of Outlaws Late Models Series allow not only for multiple brands of tires to be used but also for multiple compounds to be provided by those manufacturers.
Having more than one supplier of anything is always better for the consumer. That’s good capitalism and it’s the American way.
The reason so many higher ups in NASCAR are opposed to a so called tire war is because like so many other facets of the sport they allowed their greed to overtake their good sense in the days in which multiple tire suppliers were allowed. Every major team tied themselves into binding contracts with one tire maker or the other and thus found themselves in a bad situation on those weekends when the other supplier had a better tire.
The removal choices prevents people from making the wrong choices. That seems to be the prevailing sentiment in NASCAR these days.
In the coming week, there will be scores of commentators who will take to the airwaves to tell any who will listen that this extension granted to Goodyear is good for the sport. After taking a look at the parade racing and fuel stretches, do you agree?
Of course, these commentators will use safety as one of their key arguments. If a company brings tires that are not safe to the track, no one will buy them. Again, that’s good capitalism and it’s the American way.
After the tire debacle of 2008 in Indianapolis in which the ground up track chewed through tires at an alarming rate, Goodyear has seemingly decided that their tires will not provide the central storyline again. The best way to do that has been to bring hard tires to the track week after week. And with no competition, why should they cease to do so?
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