A Look at the Engineering Behind NASCAR Tires

by SM Staff On Thu, Apr. 05, 2018

Photo Credit: Fred Blood

We usually focus on the cars, the big and powerful engines under the hood, and the drivers wrestling with the immense power of NASCAR cars. The sporting events we follow are just as exciting. But NASCAR is not as crude as many think – we’re looking at you, Formula 1 fans – and there is a lot of engineering that goes into preparing the car for every race.

In this article, however, we are going to focus more on the tires. A set of NASCAR tires has to endure an incredible amount of force while maintaining grip and allowing the car to channel its power to the tarmac. The engineering feat behind NASCAR tires is nothing short of incredible.

They Need to be Managed

It is not a secret that tire degradation and managing that rate of degradation are critical to the success of a NASCAR team. There is an engineer behind every NASCAR team and its tire management system. One of the tasks of that engineer is measuring tire temperature before and after the tires are used, and then calculating tire degradation based on various metrics.

NASCAR tires need to be managed because each team only has access to a limited set. You can’t expect to blow through tires and win the race. Teams can have as many as 14 sets for a single race – usually a longer one – but not all teams need to buy the maximum number of sets.

NASCAR tire management really shows how engineers can lead in a management situation. Students pursuing their Ohio University masters in engineering management and a similar degree from other universities are learning to incorporate management skills into their work by using NASCAR as one of the case studies.

They’re More High-Tech Than You Think

It is also worth noting that NASCAR tires have more technology than you think. For starters, every tire has its own RFID chip and identifier. The chip used to be for managing tire distribution, especially with the regulation in force dictating that tires need to be returned at the end of every session.

Today, the RFID chip works more for identification and research purposes. Goodyear, who is currently supplying the tires for NASCAR teams, always know which tires go to which team.

“We know where they are, and if at any time we want a particular tire back, we can do that,” according to Goodyear’s director of racing Greg Stucker in an interview with Road and Track.

Different Compounds for Different Challenges

The most interesting thing about NASCAR tires is the many compounds teams can choose from, depending on the challenges they will face. Once again, students at top universities such as Ohio University often use these different compounds in their studies, particularly in relation to safety and performance.

In fact, the Ohio University Online master of engineering management program teaches the same Six Sigma method used to improve NASCAR tires. The amount of engineering that goes into every compound provided for a particular race is simply mind-blowing.

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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