Dave Argabright
Dave Argabright

ARGABRIGHT: Too Much Racing?

A couple of months ago we mentioned in this space the current racing tire situation — shortage, crisis, whatever you want to call it — and it’s led to another line of thinking that has come to the forefront.

Are we racing too much?

More specifically, how much racing can our motorsports ecosystem support?

Some racers and fans would be perfectly happy racing every night of the week, from New Year’s Day until New Year’s Eve. It seems as though that’s where we’re headed.

Contemplate a couple of points. One, Hoosier Tire is having difficulty meeting the current need for racing tires, and in recent weeks we’ve seen races cancelled because of a short supply of tires. Two, Hoosier insists that they are manufacturing more tires today than ever before.

That’s an interesting element. If true, we don’t really have a shortage; it’s just that demand has finally exceeded supply. So…have we reached the point of racing beyond the sustainable production of racing tires? In a sense, that question is answering itself as we speak.

There is definitely more racing happening now than ever before. Within the past 40-plus years the World of Outlaws sprint cars and late models, All Stars, ASCS, POWRi, and many more series were born. Ohio Sprint Speedweek, Pennsylvania Speedweek, Indiana Sprint Week, ASCS Summer Sprint Week, among others, came on the scene.

The Tulsa Shootout and Chili Bowl arrived. Modified racing, 600 micros, Legends cars. The sport of dirt late model racing was essentially born in 1971, and today boasts hundreds of racing teams and several major series.

Historic events have added nights, tacked on to an existing race or races. A great example is the Knoxville Nationals; what was once four nights of racing has ballooned to 10 with the 360 Nationals, the Capitani Classic, and the Front Row Challenge at Oskaloosa.

With the recent announcement of 12 new high-dollar midweek races proposed by the High Limit Sprint Car series, the calendar grows all the more full.

Every series, every type of car, every track, and every major event needs a truckload of tires — more or less — in order to happen.

All of this growth in our sport is capitalism at work. Events, tracks, and series exist because a financial backer believes they will create a return on their investment. As it should be, of course.

But it does bring about the inevitable question: How much racing — over the long haul — can actually be sustained? Is there a limit — a ceiling?

At the moment, the finite element is a disposable item: Tires. Maybe the next shortage down the road will be racing fuel, or titanium. Never can tell, as the saying goes.

A more curious element is this: Among people who put a race car together, people who buy event tickets, people who subscribe to streaming services … is there a burnout factor? Will too much of a good thing be … too much? Perhaps that’s the subject of another column on another day.

So here we are, dealing with the existing tire situation. Back to that capitalism thing: If Hoosier Tire makes money on every tire they sell, they’ll want to produce as many tires as needed to meet the demand. They’ll invest in new facilities and processes in order to expand their capacity and the problem is solved. This is one of those scenarios where throwing money at the problem would probably resolve it.

In the meantime, good luck getting those tires. This much I know for certain: A year from now I hope we’re not talking about a tire shortage.End Bug

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