Have you ever wondered where all those tires come from in Nascar? And why when you look at a photo from the Clash at the Coliseum and a photo from the a few years earlier the wheels are different. We explore both the wheels and tires of NASCAR below. and answer the question who makes NASCAR racing tires. After all, these are the only things keeping the car on the road.
Since 1988 -1989 Racing tires in NASCAR have been almost exclusively supplied by Goodyear. Previously there was brief but fierce competition to supply the three nationwide NASCAR series between Hoosier and Goodyear, with Hoosiers tire regarded as faster and softer and Goodyear more durable and safer.
So currently Goodyear are the supplier of tires for NASCAR, and that’s a company you can use to buy tires for your own car, though using racing slick tires for your daily commute to work will start to be expensive very quickly. We take a look in more detail below
Where do Nascar’s tires come from?
All Nascar tires are made by hand in Goodyear’s high-tech manufacturing plant in Akron, OH, where the company makes every tire for Nascar’s top three divisions as well as for the NHRA/Top Fuel league.
On any given typical triple header race weekend with the Camping World Trucks, Xfinity and Cup Series, Goodyear will supply about 4000 tires for that weekend of racing alone. In all, Goodyear produces about 100,000 racing tires for Nascar every year. That is a whole lot of tires, by the way!
How is the Next-Gen tire different from Gen 6?
The Next-Gen car will sport 18-inch wheels, a change from the ones used in the past, which featured a 15-inch diameter. These wheels will also have a single lug, another change from the five-lug wheels that had been used since just about anyone can remember.
Although reportedly the switch to single lug wheels will not really have an effect on tire design one way or another, the larger wheels are sure to be a game changer in how Goodyear designs tires for Nascar stock cars.
While the new tire will actually not be much taller than that of the past, it will about 1.5 inches wider, which is bound to change the way the tires distribute the load put upon them. It’s true that Goodyear has made 18-inch tires before, but never for 3200 lb. stock cars that go 200 mph.
Why is Goodyear Nascar’s only tire supplier?
Actually, it isn’t. But it’s a good question nonetheless, and to answer it we need to take a quick look at the history of Nascar rubber, the first chapter of which was punctuated by a two-decade long tire war between Firestone and Goodyear.
(On a side note, it was these two companies that pioneered the so-called “lifesaver,” or inner-liner safety tire, following a series of deadly accidents) until Firestone left in the mid-seventies.
Following the McCreary Tire and Rubber Company’s departure not long after, Goodyear was left as the sole tire supplier for Nascar for over a decade until Hoosier joined the fray in 1988.
The Lakeville, Indiana company’s entry into stock car competition came at Nascar’s invitation, following an attempted hostile buyout of Goodyear that might have put its racing program in jeopardy (thus leaving Nascar without a tire supplier).
Throughout the 1988 and 1989 seasons there ensued a brief but bitter tire war between the two companies. Hoosier’s tires were considered softer and faster, while Goodyears had the durability and safety advantage.
While each supplier faced a multitude of setbacks, in the end Goodyear’s new radial tire became the standard after an impressive debut at the First Union 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Soon Hoosier (which it must be remembered is a specialty manufacturer that only makes tires for competition), would leave the sport when it could not sell enough tires at the track to be profitable, only to return briefly a few years later with a radial tire of its own, though it met with little success.
Goodyear has been the sole tire supplier in Nascar’s top three series since, though Hoosier supplied tires for the ARCA Series for many years, and Continental Tire (essentially a rebranded Hoosier after its acquisition by Continental) supplies tires for most regional lower division Nascar Touring series, such as the Whelen Modified Series.
How are Nascar tires different from the tires on your car?
In many ways, Nascar race tires and the tires on your personal ride are similar, and incorporate much of the same technology. Yet they are also very different, obviously. One way in which Nascar tires vary from yours (most likely, at least, unless you happen to be one of those street racer types) is that they are filled with nitrogen, not air.
The reason for this: nitrogen is dryer than air. Hence, filling the tires with nitrogen minimizes pressure fluctuation as the tires heat up out on the track, as in comparison to air-filled tires that gain pressure when they gain heat.
And you’ve probably noticed that Nascar tires are as bald as an egg. This is why they are sometimes referred to as “slicks” and another way they are different from the tires on your own car (or at least we hope so).
On a race track it is desirable to have as much of the contact patch (the surface area of the tire that actually comes into contact with the track surface) as possible connect with the track itself, which is why racing tires are devoid of tread.
This only applies to dry surfaces, however, and this brings us to the difference in rain tires: tread. Which is needed to expel moisture from the tires surface and avoid hydroplaning. And this is the reason why your car’s tires have tread – to deal with all weather conditions.
How do Nascar tires differ from track to track?
Not all Nascar tires are created equal, apparently. Because all race tracks are different in their characteristics – banking, turning radius, surface irregularities, etc., – they create different tire wear patterns.
For this reason, Goodyear develops a different tire package for each track, and the reason for this is more for safety concerns than competition, though that certainly is a consideration as well. One of the tires’ most important aspects, the rubber compound from which it is made, differs depending on the demands of a given racetrack.
But generally, a softer compound makes for a tire that has more grip, but less durability; and conversely, harder-compound tires are more durable but have less grip — hence less speed.
What do they do with the old NASCAR Tires?
Once race day is over there are a lot of used tires to deal with. Unlike your car NASCAR tires are built and produced for a racetrack, not for years of use. As we mentioned above this can equal up to 4000 tires on a race weekend, and 100,000 over the course of a year and this figure doesn’t include testing or practices.
Luckily the Goodyear tires can be recycled after use. Both Goodyear and Liberty Tire Recycling (who can recycle up to 300,000 tires a year) take the tires, and after study and research on their wear. After they have studied the tires they can use them for multiple reasons including.
- Creating Tire derived fuel
- Making rubber mulch to put around trees, used at NASCAR R and D.
- Padding for children’s playgrounds
- Crumb rubber for carpet backs and running tracks
- Rubberized pavements
It is also possible to buy tires, or parts of tires as souvenirs as tracks and concessions, often pretty cheaply, so you can have a piece of an actual NASCAR as a momento.
So when you go for a run after that NASCAR race and all those chicken wings it might be that you are running on a track that has actual NASCAR tires in it. While this is pretty cool, there is no guarantee it will make you run as fast as a NASCAR!
But in 2022 Nascar will debut its much-anticipated Next-Gen Car, with its new 18-inch wheels (up from the 15-inch wheel that had been traditionally used). This is certain to present Goodyear with new challenges as it searches for the best tire package possible for each track on the circuit, though much pre-season tire testing was conducted.
Goodyear does have a considerable amount of experience making 18-inch tires for other types of vehicles however, and it is pretty safe to say that Nascar rubber is in good hands with the 120-plus-year-old company.