When your race car rolls out on the track, you hope to be leading the pack when the checkered flag waves. Of course, getting to that point takes a lot of planning, preparation, and maybe an extra advantage or two.

In the search for that extra edge, many racers are turning to a variety of products to find an advantage. Beyond the normal things like engine and chassis tuning, a growing number of competitors are checking out products that promise even more performance out of a race car.

One example of such a product is Hotlap, which is produced by Pro-Blend Motorsports Products in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It is a product intended to prepare racing tires so they will provide a grip improvement at race time and thus provide a potential for better car performance.

To understand how this Hotlap works, Circle Track traveled to two tracks to take a look at how it performs. First we went to Hickory, North Carolina, to see how it handles asphalt, then we visited Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, South Carolina to take a read on a dirt track.

Our intent was to see how the product functions on asphalt and dirt tracks in a side-by-side comparison between treated and untreated DOT-type race tires. Both drivers in the tests were veterans, and although driving style can weigh into lap speeds, our confidence was high that each test was being done in an effort to get the quickest times from each set of tires.

Preparation
Before reporting on the results of the tests, it is necessary to understand how the Hotlap product is applied and how it works once the car is on the racetrack. To check this out, we spoke with Gather Jenkins of Pro-Blend.

The application of the product is a fairly straightforward method, which encompasses application of the compound to the tire tread over a three-day period. The application begins on the Monday before a Saturday-night race.

The first step is to literally paint the compound onto the footprint of the tire. This can be done with a brush or common paint roller. Each tire receives four layers of the solution, and a drying time of 30 minutes is required between each application. This same procedure is repeated on Tuesday and Wednesday, which means that each tire will have 12 coats of Hotlap applied by the third day. From Wednesday to Saturday, the compound cures in the tire, which, according to the application requirements, provides the highest and best use of the product.

According to Jenkins, this method is sufficient for short races, however for longer races, an interior coating is recommended. This can be achieved by a shot from the aerosol-style dispenser into the tire. Once injected, the tire is rotated to give an even covering inside.

How It Works
The Hotlap product is designed to provide greater gripping characteristics to a tire, and that provides the potential of translating into quicker lap times. This is achieved by "waking up" the compound during warm-up laps, and once the tire compound is activated, it may provide maximum grip characteristics as the race proceeds. As the compound reaches its stabilization point, it "opens the pores" of the rubber, which allows the tire to hold the track more efficiently.

The Comparisons
In both cases (asphalt and dirt) we witnessed a performance of treated and untreated tires. The procedure was basic--each race car was taken out on the track for warm-up laps. After a return to the pits for a tire temperature and pressure check, the car returned to the track for five timed laps.

Each lap was timed via an elec-tronic timer that stored the speed of each lap. The timing module was mounted in the car, and through the use of an electronic beam each lap speed was measured. Additionally, lap times were taken on a handheld stopwatch that was administered by Circle Track.

Between each comparison, there were no other changes made to the car other than the change of tires. Both comparisons provided some interesting numbers, and here is what we saw.

Asphalt
The first comparison took place on asphalt; the car was driven by Hickory Speedway Champion Randy Neal in a Super Stock car, and NASCAR race car driver Dennis Setzer helped confirm the accuracy of the data. These are the figures:

Untreated Tires Treated Tires
Lap Time Lap Time
1 18.01 1 17.71
2 18.06 2 17.70
3 18.07 3 17.62
4 18.02 4 17.61
5 17.86 5 17.57

Dirt
The second test took place on a car with dirt DOT tires that was driven by Mike Duvall in a Modified Dirt car. Patrick Utt of Circle Track confirmed the accuracy of this data. Here are the results of that comparison.

Untreated Tires Treated Tires
1 20.97 1 20.59
2 20.78 2 20.41
3 20.77 3 20.28
4 20.71 4 20.28
5 20.69 5 20.37
SOURCE
Pro-Blend Motorsport Products
830 Manly St.
Winston-Salem
NC  27101