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Monday, August 10, 2009

Rain, rain, don’t go away … just give us rain tires, Goodyear

We can put a man on the moon.
We can shoot lasers into people’s eyes and prevent them from going blind.
We can put satellites in space that are so advanced and detailed, they can take a picture of my car.

But we still can’t race a Cup event in the rain, even if it's on a road course.


For the second straight week, the race will be on Monday, this time from Watkins Glen. The only thing I have to say to that is , “Why?”

This region of the country is known for rain at this time of year. Qualifying for the Glen is often rained out. So how is it possible that NASCAR and Goodyear have yet to come up with a tire that the teams can use at the Glen or Sears Point in the case of a rainy Sunday?

I recognize the dangers of using rain tires on oval tracks, and am not advocating that. But after seeing a pretty successful event at Montreal last year in the Nationwide Series in the rain, Goodyear should have jumped at the opportunity to design a tire that would work on the Cup cars.

Barring a torrential downpour, there is no reason a proper tire can’t be created so the race can be run on Sunday.

For their part, Goodyear agrees that it could be done.
"We certainly think so," Goodyear spokesman Greg Stucker said. "There's not that big a difference between the two cars and if you go back years ago, we did run them in Japan on the Cup cars. We're confident we could have a package that would be suitable, if that's what they chose to do."

Of course, there are always the critics, who have various reasons for not wanting this to happen.

Some people say it would be terrible for the fans who show up to have to sit in a rainstorm and watch the race. That’s a bunch of hooey, because those fans in Montreal last year were loving what they say, and any true race fan will endure a lot to see the sport they love. Besides, many have endured rain delays that were longer than an actual race might take.

Some also say the race would be boring, as the drivers won’t be able to go as fast due to the rain. The key thing in a race, though, is competition … not speed. And some of the more competitive races I’ve seen over the years in motorsports have been in the rain. This is because racing in the rain brings the truly talented drivers to the front and exposes the drivers who aren’t in that top tier. (For example, Michael Schumacher usually ended up on top in a wet Formula 1 race)

Those who say the Car of Tomorrow just isn't built to run in the rain, that it's too heavy, or some other excuse are living in the past. As I noted at the beginning of this post, science and technology can do pretty much what we want them to do nowadays, and have solved problems much bigger than anything NASCAR could present.

It might be just lip service, but I’m glad to see NASCAR and Goodyear speaking as if there is a legitimate chance that at some point in the future, rain tires in Cup may be an option.

I see no reason to wait until Monday to race at a road course, when the technology is there to develop a tire that can be raced on Sunday. I’m not holding my breath, but I hope I can see it happen in my lifetime.


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