It does not take a rocket scientist to determine that new tires are better than old ones. Short of getting new tires for every heat race and main event, what can you do to preserve tires and keep the level of performance as high as possible?
The tire of the same style...
The tire of the same style is grooved in preparation for a qualifying attempt. Notice the additional grooves across the blocks and the grooves emanating from the hole in the block.
The first step is to keep detailed notes. This is your first line of information gathering. You might be asking, how do I take notes, and what is important to document? Those are good questions. You can purchase a multitude of preprinted setup sheets from a variety of racing vendors. In fact, many of them are free! The issue is not so much the format but the fact that you are keeping notes. You most likely will develop a format that works for you over time, but in the beginning you need to keep track of a few things from a tire management perspective that may include but are not limited to the following: * Brand and compound number of tire* Tire age: The number of laps the tires have on them-You should be able to document the number of laps each tire in your inventory may have accumulated to date. If you race on a number of tracks of different sizes, you need to delineate the laps that were on a 11/42- and a 11/44-mile track. (Note: All tires have a serial number, a manufacturing date, or other unique identifier molded into the tire that will help you single them out. You can also mark each tire with your own identifying numbers and/or letters)* Individual tire setup-Tire width-Wheel width-The corner of the car on which the tire was mounted-Air pressure (cold and hot)-Circumference of the tire, pre- and post-race-Tire grooving (size of groove, pattern, and depth)* General condition of the tire, pre- and post-race-Are the edges sharp?-Is the tire feathered or blistered?-Tire temperatures after each run
The difference in diameter...
The difference in diameter from the right rear to the left rear shows the amount of stagger that is in this car to aid in getting it around the corner. Notice that only the left-rear tire on this Sprint car has additional grooving.
Creating a note sheet with each of the parameters you are tracking in a fill-in-the-blank type of format makes this data much easier to keep track of and much quicker to record. The easier and quicker it is to develop or execute, the more likely you can get the crew to accomplish the task. Racers are no different from other people in general. If it takes a great deal of effort to accomplish a given task, then the possibility is greater that the task will not be done. Make this task as easy as possible. You may even want to designate a person on your team who always has this responsibility, or rotate this job from race to race to develop your team. These note pages go into a master notebook you can refer to for future setup information.
This is something you can implement to develop the discipline required to keep track of the information. I have worked with several teams that keep this type of data, and it has helped them understand how the tires are performing. It also helps them keep a better level of control over the number of tires kept in their inventory. They know which ones to sell and which ones they should keep, and they know when new tires are required.
This racer had a very good...
This racer had a very good explanation for the grooving pattern on his tires. The center of the tire with the square grooves was to aid the tire down the straight, and the angled groove on the outside of the tire was to aid the tire in developing grip in the corners while the car was sideways. It must be working for him-he won three features last season.
Asking questions is another way to glean information. Your first resource is the manufacturer. Ask for suggested setups and check this information against your notes. Use this information to further improve your individual racing data bank, which includes wheel widths for a given tire and the recommended air pressure settings. Ask what the recommended tire temperatures are for the best performance and tire life. On the same thought, ask what temperatures are too high and, inversely, what temperatures are too low. The majority of the tire manufacturers have Web sites that explain and answer all of these questions.
Goodyear and Hoosier both have great Web sites for the dissemination of this type of information. Your next resource should be the dealers who are selling you tires. They want you to do well with their tires so that you continue buying more as the need arises. Look at what the other teams around you are doing. I am not suggesting stealing setup information. Rather, I am encouraging you to ask and learn. In general, racers are a helpful group until you start kicking their butts on the track-then, in their minds, you don't need help anymore.