(Andy Marquis photo)

It seems the number one topic from 2021 is going to be the number one, two, three, four, and five topic for 2022. Point blank the tire situation at most tracks is going to be worse in 2022 than it was in 2021 and it’s time we all come to grips with that now.

For those living under a rock for the last 12 months or so, there’s been a tire shortage that’s not only affected short track racing but passenger tires to a lesser degree. The cause? It’s complicated and it’s multi-faceted.

Shortages are everywhere and not just in the tire business. Parts are short all over. Bodies for Late Models are in short supply as are many of the parts to build the cars and the engines. There seems to be nothing that’s been unaffected by the global supply chain problems.

The tires specifically have a couple of major problems preventing them from being able to supply the number of tires most tracks are accustomed to selling from year to year. The first is a product of the labor shortage. It seems as if people just don’t want to work and maybe that’s part of it but the labor shortage goes deeper than that.

A friend of mine, who runs a big business in racing told me today he made the same amount of money in 2021 off of selling online on Amazon and eBay as he profited from his business. So, if that’s the case, why would anyone want to go do manual labor when they could sell online and make just as much or likely more with less effort? This problem is affecting businesses everywhere and Hoosier and American Racer can’t escape it.

The other and likely bigger issue is the shortage of nylon that is used to make tires. Like making dinner, it’s hard to make something if you don’t have all the ingredients. And, in this case, there are no substitutes leaving them unable to produce the tires in the numbers it would take to meet the need.

So you might be wondering how this problem is going to get worse? I can’t speak to the nature of the struggle of American Racer/McCreary because I haven’t spoken to anyone from that company or anyone from a track that runs them on this subject. I expect because they don’t have as many tires they need to produce for their tracks and series, that they will have fewer issues but again that’s an assumption on my part and you know what they say assuming does…..

Here’s why at least from the Hoosier perspective, this problem will get worse. Their solution to the problem is a flawed concept.

Let me explain. Hoosier told the race tracks over the last week that they would be getting the same amount of tires overall that they ordered in 2021. So after getting fewer tires than they needed last season, they’re using the numbers from a short 2021 to supply tracks in 2022. At first, it makes sense to get by. They got by last season, so why can’t they get by this season? This flawed concept has many issues.

The first issue is how many tracks already had leftover inventory from 2020 which helped them to get by in 2021. The mandate of only giving them the number they ordered in 2021, will leave many tracks with fewer tires than they sold in 2021 after having to deplete their inventory to get through their last race of the season.

The second issue is that car counts and the need for tires fluctuate from year to year at all race tracks. One track might have had an average car count of 15 last year because of the tire situation and them being in a better spot to offer tires on the occasions they raced on.

Simply put, mandating a tire limit based on the previous season is flawed at best and at worst it’s a foolish mistake that will make this whole deal incredibly worse.

There were a lot of tires sold during speedweeks in Florida. Sure, they limited all the teams to two sets of practice tires at New Smyrna but that still left a lot of tires being sold. The tires sold at New Smyrna and at all the dirt tracks during speedweeks has to be a staggering number. A number that likely would have helped spread more tires to short tracks all across the country this spring and might have aided in giving some more cushion as race season everywhere kicks off over the next month or more. I have nothing against those events, they always happen but maybe they needed a tighter rope on how many tires were distributed for three weeks of racing.

I don’t have all the answers but I know there’s a significant problem that we all can clearly see is going to be worse based on how it’s being handled. Is there a better way for them to handle it? I think so, but obviously, I don’t know everything about their business model.

Race tracks can operate with fewer tires than they think they need but we’ve got to collectively get this under control or the tracks are going to fail badly. Only a handful of tracks can be propped up by the owner’s other business(es) and even then, most of them can’t be propped up by them but so long if they can’t race on a somewhat regular basis.

Full disclosure: I’m a Hoosier customer as I run Franklin County Speedway and we race on Hoosier tires in several classes. This could hurt my availability for tires. I don’t think it will but it could but more importantly, I feel it all needs to be said.

This is not a rant against Hoosier, they’re simply doing what they think is best and whether I agree with them or not, I can’t tell them how to do business. We’re all in this together and we collectively have to find a solution between the racers, tracks, touring series, and the tire distributors/manufacturers. The tough will find a way to make it work but after a 2020 pandemic and shutdowns and a tire shortage in 2021, this is the last thing these race tracks all need.