The topic of tire supply buzzed among racers across the country after Tri-County Speedway in Hudson, North Carolina, cancelled its races due to a “tire shortage.” The two tire manufacturers that serve most of the oval-track market — Hoosier Racing Tire and Specialty Tires of America, Inc., manufacturer of American Racer and McCreary tires — offered their take on the state of the tire supply.
Hoosier Racing Tire’s Irish Saunders confirmed inventory is tight, but mostly because of demand.
“Forty years in this place, and I’ve never seen it like this,” said Saunders. “We’re producing more tires than we ever have in the history of this company. I don’t see where it’s all going. Car counts aren’t escalating. I talk to tracks across the country all the time. [The tracks told me] guys come up and [ask] for 16 tires.
“I said, ‘How were they in 2018?’
“[The tracks said the racers would say,] ‘Well, give me four or six [tires].’”
Specialty Tires of America, Inc.’s Scott Junod said they’ve ramped up production as well.
“We’re making as many tires now for the American Racer and McCreary brands as we ever have,” Junod said.
For those who may be wondering, Junod added it’s been several months since Specialty Tires of America, Inc. felt the effects from a fire last June. (See “American Racer: Bouncing Back from a Fire”.)
“Last August … we were running at full steam,” said Junod. “From October [through] March, we produced more tires in those six months since I’ve been here, which would be over eight years. So, we’ve rebounded quite well from the fire.”
The increased demand may have resulted from the same reason consumers stocked up other products, such as toilet paper and fuel.
“People are trying to hoard a little bit here and there,” Junod said. “They hear there might be a shortage, so they buy up all they can.”
In Tri-County Speedway’s statement on their website, the track said, “Hoosier is apparently having issues getting raw materials into the country which are essential for creating tires and are working diligently to resolve the issue.”
Both manufacturers confirmed bad weather in Texas affected supply of raw materials earlier this year. However, both Hoosier and Specialty Tires of America, Inc. said they have overcome those issues. Instead, another resource plagues production.
“Supply is tight, everywhere on everything, including us, mainly because of labor,” said Junod.
For those who have wanted to work in the automotive industry, here’s your chance. Hoosier Racing Tire manufactures its tires out of Plymouth, Indiana. Specialty Tires of America, Inc. builds theirs out of two plants — one in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and the other in Unicoi, Tennessee.
Current Plan to Address Tire Supply
While the manufacturers try to build their workforce, they are working with distributors to ensure racers get what they need.
“We’re trying to make sure we don’t have any more of these Tri-Countys,” Saunders said. “You got to look [at the orders] and adjust. [We will ask the dealer,] ‘If you need a hundred [tires], can you get by with 50?’ We’re looking at what you really need.
“We might also have certain items we have more of. [We’ll ask the dealer,] ‘What do you think about for this one-off race that you use these [tires]? It might not give you the optimum performance you want, but you know what? You can still race.’”
Junod said Specialty Tires of America, Inc. is working with the needs of their distributors.
“We are doing everything we can to protect our existing customer base,” said Junod. “We’re making sure they get what they need. They have to conserve, but we’ve been getting by pretty well. I’ve told all my distributors that we should not be looking to add any customers, as much as we would like to help.”
As with the toilet paper and fuel shortages, the tire supply issues will eventually let up. The forecast for when that will happen remains a bit hazy.
“Do I think we’ll get through the summer completely unscathed? Of course not,” Junod said. “We might run into some rough spots, here and there. Our message is to hang in there and don’t hoard so other people have a chance to race.”
Hoosier Racing Tire
Specialty Tires of America, Inc.
The Outside Groove Executive Editor has covered motorsports since 2000. His many awards include the 2019 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Jim Hunter Writer of the Year and the 2013 Russ Catlin Award for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism.