On July 17, DIRT Motorsports issued a tech bulletin so "as to forestall any misinterpretations in the 2002 DIRT Rulebook," stating that "traction control, in any form, is not allowed." DIRT inspectors will randomly confiscate ignition controls during 2002, and "cars found to have traction control devices will be subject to disqualification."

Earlier this year (2002) at Kankakee (Illinois) Speedway the UDTRA publicly pilloried Late Model racer Dale McDowell and his car builder Mark Richards when UDTRA head tech inspector Richie Lewis found a connector he believed could have been used to hook up ETC into the car's wiring harness. Ultimately, McDowell was fined $2,500 for the potential intent to use ETC.

While the UDTRA, with its tough inspection procedures, demonstrates the current police-state mentality about ETC held by most racing sanctioning groups, the Southern All-Stars Late Model series lets ETC be used, and the tech people of the Renegades sanctioning group for Late Models have accepted the futility in policing current ETC technology and don't seem to be rigorously teching it.

ETC Evolution

Rudimentary ETC for stock cars was first accomplished by bootstrapping racers with some homebrew electronic expertise in the late-1980s and early '90s. They electronically mated MSD racing ignition spark boxes with the company's timing or rpm limiter controls, and secretly mounted these what could be labeled "Frankenstein ETCs" in race cars. The policy of that ignition company then, as it is today, is not to market an MSD-branded ETC product--even though it is well within its electronic expertise. In fact, MSD has worked closely with NASCAR and modified its NASCAR-legal ignition controls to make the track inspection process easier to determine if they have been tampered with and packed with "extra" electronics.

The basic physics and tactics of the electronic management of tire slip also haven't changed much since these first efforts at ETC on stock cars. But the cost of miniaturization and packaging of electronic sensing and controlling components has become impressively affordable. Today, effective mass-produced ETC units are available that are so small and portable they are almost undetectable. Expensive, yes (in the $6,500 range), but you pay for the stealthiness of the technology. In the September 1999 issue of Circle Track we examined the TracMate electronic traction control system, which was/is representative of a typical sensor-based unit. Effective, but not exactly undetectable because of its bulk and accompanying sensor wiring.