by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

It’s no secret that there is a shortage of racing tires. Whether it’s Hoosier, or American Racer, you’ll be hard pressed to find a new right rear to put on for Friday night’s action. After talking to some local teams and drivers, the shortage may be at a tipping point for the local scene sooner rather than later. That’s not a good thing. We’ve already seen races be canceled due to the shortage, most notably the All Stars visit to Bedford. The way things are trending, this could become a much, much bigger issue.’s Jacob Hord caught up with Michael Linder from Ray Brooks Racing, Brett Lane, owner of Lane Racing, DJ Foos, driver for Burmeister Racing, Trey Jacobs, driver for Jacobs Motorsports, and owner/driver Craig Mintz to see how the tire shortage is impacting their season, and what could happen if things don’t get better.

What is your current tire situation?

Michael Linder: “We are fortunate to have the resources to have a few tires, but we are trying to save them for races we really need new tires for.” 

DJ Foos: “I believe we have two new right rears left in our trailer. We have a few decent used tires that we will be able to use if we can continue to race.”

Brett Lane:  “I went out and got tires to run the month of Apri, calling Missouri, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, everyone in Ohio, and Indiana looking for tires for April and now I paid for tires I can’t use to try and make money to pay the bills.”

Craig Mintz: “I currently have three used tires and one new one I am saving for the World of Outlaws race at Attica in two weeks. Three used ones aren’t great, but would be solid used tires for the 305’s that I can’t sell to them now.”

Trey Jacobs: “We actually got a new right rear this week, the last one the supplier had. We have a couple nice used ones, and I’m hoping to buy some more good used ones from my brother (Cody Jacobs) when the Outlaw guys come through Ohio. We can get through this weekend most likely, but after that, it’s up in the air.”

How is it affecting your season?

Michael Linder: “It hasn’t affected our season much yet, other than the increasing cost of tires. Other teams are starting to feel the pinch of limited supply, though.” 

DJ Foos: “I can say this last Saturday night was the first time that I can remember having a used right rear on for a feature. Burmeister’s don’t usually slack in the tire department. There are times I could start mid-pack in a feature and they will have brand new tires on the rear of the car.”

Brett Lane: “Last weekend we had three races in Pennsylvania. All teams that signed in at The Grove were given one token to buy a right rear tire. There were 34 right rears and I believe 41 cars. For a team that is budgeted week-by-week, it makes it extremely hard. Only one time last season did I pre-buy tires; it was due to a sponsor helping us out for a trip out west. I was a regular at Kistler’s on Wednesday’s when the tire truck came to deliver for that week and I would only buy a right rear for the races I was attending and whatever lefts I would need to get through. Now, I’m being told I need to buy 10-12 tires at a time so I have enough to get through. This makes it extremely expensive at $306 a tire to stock up on them when you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to race because no one else has tires.” 

Craig Mintz: “Tire size availability is an issue. Getting right rears at 106” or 105.75”, getting a 100” chalk mark tire that’s supposed to go 95”-96” is going 92”. This is a major issue.” 

Trey Jacobs: “It’s made things tough. There has been a quality issue with Hoosier for a few years now, but with the cost rising dramatically, it has put us underfunded teams even more strapped for cash. We had planned on doing more traveling this year, but I am unsure how much we will get out now. To this point, it hasn’t hindered our performance because we have had tires each week. We run a lot of used tires with our team because of financial situations. But, we can only run them for so many nights before they’re totally junk. Opening weekend at Attica junked tires because of track conditions. So I normally love slick tracks, but I am hoping for heavier, wet tracks, at least until the supply is better, because the tires don’t get junked out on wetter track conditions.”

How hard is it to get tires right now?

Michael Linder: “All of the local speed shops are out of right rears. So if we absolutely had to get one, I’m not sure what we would do.”

DJ Foos: “As of right now, I would say I don’t know where we can get new right rears. I don’t believe, as of right now, getting left rear tires is impossible.” 

Brett Lane: “Hard enough that if you were to call any dealer in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, you would not be able to purchase a right rear anywhere. Left rears and front tires, there is not a single problem getting. They may size funky, but you can call Hoosier anywhere and get them.”

Craig Mintz: “As of last weekend, there were no available right rears at Attica or Fremont at either tire suppliers.”

Trey Jacobs: “I made a call to a guy about an hour away and grabbed the last right rear he had. Kears and Kistler have zero right rears to my knowledge, and I have heard it will be a couple weeks before the next shipment. When the next shipment comes, we have to try and beat the All Star and more heavily funded teams to them, because they will write a check for whatever dollar amount to buy all of them they can get.”

Do you think there is an end in sight?

Michael Linder: “I don’t see how this comes to an end. I can see this lasting a long time. I feel once tires become available again, they will have to ration them out. The larger teams will certainly try to buy them all up otherwise. We’ll have teams hoarding tires like toilet paper. I’m not sure any other manufacturer can gear up to produce tires in time to help things for this season. They all have had to retool away from sprint car tires to other forms of racing because Hoosier has monopolized almost all of sprint car racing.” 

DJ Foos: “Unfortunately I don’t see an end to this for a little while. I have heard that they were supposed to start running the H-series tires this week. The dealers won’t see the product for at least another week. That’s dealers all across the U.S. So if each dealer gets 20 tires or so, how does a speed shop decide who gets tires and who doesn’t? It’s definitely a position I wouldn’t want to be in.”

Brett Lane: “I believe this was kind of created like the toilet paper situation. Everyone said that there would be none, and everyone ran, grabbed, and hoarded them, which in return makes none available. Like the toilet paper, I was not the one that was running to the store to stock up, I let it ride. Well I did the same with the tires.”

Craig Mintz: “An end in sight I don’t believe is near. I only think we have scratched the surface. Two weekends in of racing and we’re in trouble. Think, 100 race cars, two tires a night, two races a weekend. That’s just two tracks. Toss in Wayne County and Atomic and you’re looking at 500-1000 tires a weekend.”

Trey Jacobs: “I sure as hell hope so! We have only had two weekends of racing here in Ohio and we already can’t get tires. If it doesn’t change, Speedweek doesn’t happen. Weekly racing will be forced to shut down. That is unless changes are made at tracks with rules, which leads to the last question…”

Is there anything you think tracks/series could do to help combat the tire shortage?

Michael Linder: “I don’t think there’s much tracks and series can do other than make sure the tracks are prepared well enough to not destroy tires. Opening up the tire rule is an option, but I’m afraid that it would only be a short-term patch. It would take a manufacturer that has enough access to the raw materials to supply the entire country with tires. That takes time. We don’t have that. There is already talk of tracks and series dropping the less profitable shows to ease the shortage.”

DJ Foos: “I would hate to suggest it, but at some point we may have to stop racing for a little bit. If this is still an issue in the summer and we are burning off two tires a night, eventually we will run out of tires, or be on such old tires that it would almost be a waste of time knowing that you don’t have the equipment to compete. With everyone being racers, if one track cancels, we all would probably go race at a different race track and that would defeat the purpose. I am sure we could all think of some suggestions, but ultimately, we have to do what is best for the sport. I don’t know how hard it would be for tracks to get out of their Hoosier contracts, since they can’t provide the product that is required to race?”

Brett Lane: “I don’t believe it should be on the teams to find tires, or have tires. Tires should be available at every race track a car goes to. Race tracks get paid for every car that goes through the gate by Hoosier. If they want us to run their tires and race tracks want us to come and compete, then they should be the ones that should be putting in the effort to make sure there are tires available. I’m sure there are many issues behind closed doors at Hoosier, and many other tire manufactures. But at the end of the day, the only way we can beat this is if we ALL come together and work on a plan together. Tracks, series, owners, drivers, and even fans because sadly, in some way, we will all be affected.”

Craig Mintz: “I believe limiting the amount of shows is the only thing that’s going to help. Limited the number of races to meet demand– if we get a shipment a month of tires, that allows us to race ‘x’ amount of times.”

Trey Jacobs: “I do think tracks and series have options to try and help the situation. I think opening up the tire rule isn’t a fix-all idea, but it wouldn’t hurt by any means! Production of other dirt tires is way down, also, but there are some out there. Whether it’s opening up the tire rule to allow any Hoosier tires, or allowing guys to choose other manufacturers, as well. I say ‘Why not?’ In the end, it can also create some competition and drive the cost down for everyone, and force the manufacturers to put out a quality product because they have competition. Hoosier has had everyone backed into a corner for a while now, and competition is good for ANY business or industry. At the end of the day, if the rule is opened up and guys can buy cheaper American Racers or other tires, but their performance isn’t on the same level as the guys running Hoosiers, everyone will spend the extra money to buy the better tire. Because we all want to compete to win. An open rule at least gives teams an option.”