Southern National Motorsports Park could be poised to make a significant change to its Limited Late Model division with a potential switch to McCreary (American Racer) tires.
The 4/10-mile track in Lucama, North Carolina staged a test on the tires on Saturday afternoon, which yielded positive responses from the four drivers who participated in the test. The praise for the tires centered around the performance of the tire, primarily on longer race runs.
“I was very surprised with how quickly the tires come up to temperature, especially with how cold it was during the test session,” Brian Obiedzenski, who is moving up from Chargers to Late Models, said. “Tire falloff was very steady and wear was minimal across the tires. They can definitely take some serious ‘qualifying lap’ abuse without being hurt.”
Where American Racer tires have excelled over the more prominent Hoosier tire is the performance during a race run.
“It seems like the harder I pushed the car on entry, the more the tires would hold the car on landing,” Obiedzenski continued. “It honestly surprised me and some of the other drivers.”
Jonathan Kornegay, who won the Charger division championship at Southern National Motorsports Park last season, also had positive feedback to the American Racer tire.
“I think it will be a good thing,” Kornegay stated. “It will take some tweaking to get the cars dialed in but I think, all in all, it will make for more competitive racing and more of somewhat of an equal playing field. I also think the tire will have more life and stop a lot of the riding around until the end of the race because they don’t fall off as bad.”
Southern National Motorsports Park general manager Charlie Hansen said the reaction from racers was positive.
“The test was very successful,” Hansen remarked. “Both Southern National and American Racer gathered some good information regarding all aspects of the tire at Southern National. The drivers said they really liked the tire and that there would be a learning curve.”
Hansen oversaw the test alongside Dominion Raceway owner Steve Britt, which was the testing bed for the new American Racer tire.
“The other thing I heard, which is characteristic of that tire, is repeatability,” Britt explained. “It falls off initially then it’s very stable for the life of the tire so it’s a really good product. I think some people are confused about the origin. It’s a brand-new product from American Racer, it’s not a renaming of an existing product. It’s new molds, carcass designs, and materials. It’s a brand-new product for them and it seems to be really great.”
Britt believes a potential move to American Racer would produce better racing at Southern National. While most people think of Myrtle Beach Speedway or old Rockingham when they think of tire abusing racetracks, Southern National has shown in recent years to be one of the more abrasive track surfaces in short track racing.
“What Mike [Diaz] is looking for is a tire that can last for his races so he can bring value,” Britt stated. “That was his interest in trying to find a tire that might hold up to multiple race situations or perform consistently through a race with length. With that track, and I didn’t notice it until the test, that track eats the Hoosier product significantly so the drivers lay around until the end and that’s not good competition. That’s not fun for the drivers or the fans.
“I think we found a product that will give them consistency for the duration of the race. It will give them stability and allow them to race the whole race.”
Carteret County Speedway raced on American Racer tires during their inaugural season (in 2015) before switching to Hoosier tires. Eric Winslow ran multiple races at the Swansboro, North Carolina track during their inaugural season, picking up two wins. Winslow became a fan of the tire in 2015.
“I think it would be very beneficial to most of the budget racers to be on American Racer tires,” Winslow commented. “the tire lasts longer and stays more consistent to me with tons of heat cycles. I really think it is a great tire. I’ve heard things about they don’t like bump stops but I haven’t seen any effects like that.”
Carteret County Speedway switched to Hoosier tires during their sophomore season in 2017, hoping the switch would provide a noticeable boost to car counts (it didn’t). If Southern National were to make the decision to run on American Racer tires, Winslow said it would potentially sway him to run at Southern National.
“I think it could be a great deal for another track to join Dominion and run a different tire,” Winslow explained. “If Southern National went to the same tire as Dominion, it actually would incline me to run at both tracks a couple more times than I usually do. It’s great for budget racers and I really wish racers and tracks would give it a chance.”
Winslow reiterated his preference for American Racer tires and the need for competition in the tire market which is dominated in the Southeast by Hoosier.
“If I had to buy a set of Hoosier F-45s or American Racers, it would be American Racers every time,” Winslow elaborated. “If I could race on either one in a 100 lap race where either one was legal, it would be American Racers. We need competition to drive tire prices down a bit and I think it’s great Southern National is looking at that option.”
As of now, Southern National Motorsports Park has made no final decision on which tires would be run in 2018. If the Southern National Motorsports Park were to run American Racer tires, it would provide the company with a huge boost in a region that predominantly races on the Hoosier F-45.