Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rookie Stripe: You Won’t See These Wheels on the Highway -- 13 Things to Know About NASCAR Tires

Photo Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
By Logan Stewart

Like everything else in NASCAR, tires are almost always in motion. They have to be changed with lightning speed during a pit stop, stay intact amid soaring temperatures and hug the track tightly. Racing tires are radial-ply tires just like those on your car, but that’s where the similarities end. Here are some of the fastest facts you might not know about NASCAR’s wheels:

1. NASCAR tires are supplied exclusively by Goodyear®, who has a presence at every race. In fact, Goodyear sets up shop in the infield at a special spot to distribute and collect race-used tires.

2. Tires cost about $500 each, meaning a set of four will cost a team $2,000. The number of sets of tires a team goes through during a race depends on the track. At longer super speedways they may only use six sets, but at a shorter track they will use 12-14 sets (if you’re not great at math, that’s up to a whopping $28,000 in tires alone for one race for one car).

3. Teams pay for their own tires.
Photo Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
4. Tires used in practice cost the same as race tires, making the cost even higher.

5. Smaller teams with less funding can’t afford as many sets, and will sometimes re-glue lug nuts and reuse tires later in the race. If a car wrecks out early a smaller team may ask to use their unused tires.

6. Most race teams use nitrogen instead of air in the tires because they have more control over the increasing pressure as the tire gets hotter on the track.

7. Every team has a tire specialist who goes to pick up tires from Goodyear before the race and takes care of putting them into sets by the pit box, determining what tires go into what set. Tires manufactured on the same day are normally grouped together.

8. Tires pick up rubber and debris on the track which contribute to wear. Before a tire is out on the track the tire specialist will mark it to determine how much wear the tire will have so teams know how many laps they can go or how to adjust air pressure before the tire burns out.

9. Tires are made from materials known as compounds. Different tracks need different compounds. Softer compounds grip or hug the racing surface better but wear more quickly than harder compounds. Each track has a unique number of turns, degree of banking, surface and other factors that determine how a compound will perform. Compounds are a safety issue and regulated by NASCAR. Right side tires are also bigger in size than left side tires on oval tracks and have different compound makeups, because of the banking and load on the car.
Photo Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
10. New tires going on to a car already have five lug nuts attached to the wheel by a special glue. This adhesive is stretchy and helps tire changers during what is already a high speed, complicated maneuver.

11. There are heavy and light tires used depending on the track. Heavier tires have an inner liner that is almost like an inner tube; if the outer layer blows the inner liner enables the driver to get to pit road safely. NASCAR requires the inner liner tires on tracks more than one mile long.

12. It’s hard to rain on a road course’s parade. While it is dangerous and nearly impossible to race in the rain on an oval track, Goodyear manufactures special rain tires that can be used on NASCAR road courses.

13. Skirts and Scuffs?? Try stickers and scuffs! New tires from Goodyear come with a sticker. Once they’ve been used, they’re considered scuffed. Check out this video from NASCAR.com.

If your wheels aren’t spinning enough check out one of the most informative pieces on NASCAR tires I’ve read to date.
Road and Track: An Inside Look at the Incredible Engineering Behind NASCAR’s Tires.
Photo Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs

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