When the three tires checked at the Skyler Trull memorial race held March 12 at Gastonia, NC proved to be "illegal’" tempers flared on all sides. I talked with teams, series directors, tire engineers and track owners. But since I didn’t tell them I would quote them in print I will not make this an official document, just an educational paper for the fans.
Tires soaked while you sleep...they'll never find it"
The Carolina Clash series of late model race cars held its first race of the2011 season at Carolina Speedway, Gastonia North Carolina on March 12. Teams were told that tires would be checked for any illegal softening chemicals that had been added to improve traction. Thirty two teams showed up for the race and Ricky Weeks won the event. A quick check with a durometer probe was made at the track to make sure the tires are not too soft. However a chemically treated "soft" tire will show "hard" as it cools down after the race. So now after the race pieces of the tires are cut off the three fastest qualifiers, including Weeks, and sent to an independent testing lab. The results…all three tires were "treated with an illegal substance". Now how could this happen? Possibly by accident! If you have ever soaked tires in your shop or trailer the chemicals could still be in the air. Something like nuclear radiation (Japan is an example). I worked for Jacobsen Lawnmower Company when they had problems with their paint. It was traced to a small amount of silicon spray being used in the office, at the other end of the shop, behind several closed doors! If a team set their new tires anywhere near where soaked tires had been laid…the new tires could show an illegal amount of chemical had been added…without the teams knowing or intention! When I asked could they pick up the chemical from the track where treated tires had been run everyone seemed to agree that was not a possibility? At a banquet last winter one tire engineer told me that there is one chemical that can not be detected….yet. He expected that by now they would have a way to find it, so as Dirty Harry said…"Do you feel lucky?"
Now here is a statement from Kelly Carlton of KelCar Motorsports that will get more technical….
KELCAR Motorsports Tire Testing Procedures
1. It is the intent of KELCAR Motorsports Management to maintain a consistent and level playing field at each event they officiate. Therefore the use of chemical tire treatments or conditioners is strictly prohibited. To ensure that these chemicals are not used in competition KELCAR Motorsports Officials will randomly select tires from multiple competitors to remove samples from.
2. The tires selected will be based on a formula created by the Race Director or Lead Technical Official. This formula will change from event to event but at a minimum shall always include the event winner; second and third place finishers from the feature; and a minimum of 2 other random samples throughout the event.
3. These samples will be delivered by courier to an independent laboratory for analysis. An initial positive result will automatically indicate a second, more in-depth affirmation analysis. If the second test has the same findings the competitor will be notified and disqualified from the event.
4. Each Competitor that chooses to enter an event managed by KELCAR Motorsports shall be subject at ANYTIME to have samples taken from any or all tires affixed to their race car or within their pit area.
1. When a competitor has been selected for tire sampling an official will notify the driver of the selection and will be assigned to the race car until the Lead Technical Official has secured the tire sample(s). The driver's purse money for the event will be held until samples have been deemed clean.
2. The official will accompany the driver and car back to their pit area. At that time work can begin on competitor’s car however the selected tire(s) may not be removed or otherwise touched until the Lead Technical Official is present.
3. When the Lead Technical Official arrives to collect samples, with the driver present, a team representative will remove the tire from the car and will use THE TEAM’S grooving iron to remove a minimum of 3 one inch samples from various points around each tire selected. The Lead Technical Official will choose the area from which samples will be removed. If more than a grooving iron sample is required the Lead Technical Official will use a newly opened razor blade to remove the needed sample and will follow the same procedures listed herein.
4. Each sample will then be placed into its own container, sealed and numbered.
The containers will be labeled and initialed by the Lead Technical Official and the driver. The container will then be placed into a tamper-proof plastic bag and will be sealed, numbered and initialed by the Lead Technical Official and the driver. The driver and Lead Technical Official will then complete and sign a Tire Sample Form. The driver will receive a copy at that time.
Sampling Procedures (continued)
5. The sealed samples will then be delivered by secure courier to the selected independent laboratory. Upon arrival at the laboratory a representative will inspect the sample and confirm that it was sealed and in good order for testing.
6. The lab technician will perform initial testing on each sample noting the number of each sample on all results and documentation. The independent laboratory will provide a "sample result" sheet which documents all findings. A copy of these will be provided to drivers upon request.
7. If samples are found clean on initial analysis no further testing is required and sample is deemed clean. The promoter and driver will be immediately notified and any held purse monies will be released forthwith.
8. If initial testing is questionable or indicates the presence of non-native chemicals the lab technician will notify KELCAR Motorsports Officials and will automatically begin secondary affirmation testing.
9. If affirmation testing results in conclusive positive chemical alteration findings the race promoter and driver will be notified of results. The driver will be disqualified and will forfeit all winnings from said event.
1. Drivers found to have chemically altered tires will be disqualified from the event and will forfeit all purse monies, entry and other fees associated with the event.
2. Driver will be responsible for testing fees of $300 per tire.
3. Driver will be subject to automatic tire sampling at each subsequent KELCAR Motorsports event for a time of not less than 365 days. Driver will be responsible for ALL testing fees during this period with the exception of their involvement in the sampling formula for the event.
1. Drivers who have been disqualified from an event have the final option of appealing the ruling by one of two different methods.
2. The driver may opt to have the third sample tested at their own expense at an approved independent laboratory. If results are not confirmed the driver will be reinstated to his or her previous finishing position and will receive all purse monies associated with that position.
3. The driver may also opt to request a review of the disqualification by an independent review board appointed by KELCAR Motorsports. The review board shall consist of individuals with intimate knowledge of the racing industry and shall have no affiliation with KELCAR Motorsports or the appellate driver.
4. The review board may only choose to overrule or uphold the disqualification. The decision of restoration of purse monies lies solely with KELCAR Motorsports and the event promoter.
5. The review board’s decision in the matter shall serve as a final ruling and may only be challenged by means of litigation.
6. Appeals requests must be made within 72 hours of notification of disqualification. All appeals requests must be made IN WRITING to:
6 Birch Street
Woodruff, SC 29388
Requests by any other means shall not be accepted in any circumstance.
Now with that said let me say that because I take 12 samples does not mean I will send all 12 to the lab. As a rule of thumb I take samples from the top 3 in the feature. In some cases those 3 drivers will fit into the formula for that night in some cases not all will.
For example I always send the winner's sample in. If the 2nd and 3rd place guy didn't factor into the night's formula I hold their samples. If the winner is found wrong in initial testing I would send in the 2nd place guy's sample should the secondary testing confirm that the winner is deemed disqualified. The same would happen if second place is disqualified too. If all the top 3 are found wrong then the 4th place guy wins.
That’s about as fair as you can get without breaking the bank. Kind of the same thing most do with weighing cars - top 3. So if 4th happened to have been light well they just got lucky to have finished 4th.
Everything about this tire mess is convoluted. However it has become a necessary evil. My comments are not aimed at any driver, series or official but are intended to shed some light on what takes place. The idea is that if you are testing and doing random sampling guys will get caught and will eventually leave this garbage alone.
However I do think you must also take EVERY precaution to ensure that you aren't convicting the innocent. Extra care must be used whencollecting these samples so that no contamination can take place. I believe that has not always been the case with those that have been found wrong.