RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — NASCAR teams at the Richmond Raceway could be the first to try out new tires on the track that could make a big difference during rainy race days.
Wet Weather Radials, a tire by Goodyear, will debut this weekend at Spring Race Weekend, which starts Friday and runs through Sunday. These new tires are mounted on racecars with a specific tread pattern meant to prevent slipping, and can help teams get back to the racetrack faster when it rains.
“Elements and compounds from this tire will be used to help when the course gets a little bit of rain,” Tommy Tran, a manager with Discount Tire, said. “It still maintains traction, so it doesn’t slip around. As far as the sipes, this is what channels the water out. So as you go over puddles and stuff, displacement for water helps with hydroplaning.”
It takes between 45 minutes to an hour 15 minutes to dry the racetrack when it rains. Crews at the Raceway normally use an air squeegee to remove standing water from the track. Then they use jet dryers, sweepers and vaccuums to dry the rest.
But if it rains this weekend, competing NASCAR teams can use these tires to continue racing while the track is drying.
Matt Humphrey, with the Richmond Raceway, said that while teams won’t race while it’s raining, Wet Weather Radials can cut the track’s drying process in half.
“They won’t be sliding around all over the place, and that rubber that’s used there too is also designed to run in a cooler environment,” he said. “If there’s moisture on the track, the surface on the track is going to be a lot cooler than under normal race conditions, so it’s going to be interesting to see.”
If teams use the new tires this weekend, the Raceway could make history by being the first to debut the tires on an oval track.
“We’ve never done it before on an oval,” Humphrey said. “Hopefully, we don’t have to do it this weekend. But if we do, we’re prepared.”
In addition to the tires, there will be other new regulations on cars at the Raceway. NASCAR is also requiring teams that compete on short tracks, like the Raceway, to have windshield wipers, rear lights and tire flaps. The mandate takes effect this season.
Wet Weather Radials have another connection to Virginia in addition to their debut at the Raceway. They were originally tested at Martinsville Speedway in Henry County.