Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tire Wars

Tire Wars

Tire Trouble May Doom Clark, Gurney

Rubber Chunks Are Spotted By USAC Officials

By Rick Johnson-Indianapolis Star, May 19, 1964

The Lotus Fords, to be driven by Jimmy Clark and Dan Gurney, may well have lost the 500-Mile Race before they even run a single lap because of serious tire trouble that was discovered yesterday during test runs by Gurney.

According to USAC officials and other observers, Gurney was making tire and fuel tests in the No. 12 Lotus Ford and ran 22 laps at speeds of 150 miles an hour, with a high lap of 155, when the tires on his car began to throw off chunks of rubber.

Dan Gurney (IMS Photo)

The chunks of rubber were spotted on the track by observers, who closed the track for inspection when Len Sutton of Portland, Ore., blew a transmission seal in the No. 66 Bryant Heating and Cooling Spl.

Other USAC officials, and at least one race driver, spotted the chunked tire as Gurney was pushed from the pit apron to the garage area.

The officials of the Dunlop Rubber Company were present at the track for comment, and the Lotus car builder and crew chief, Colin Chapman, said he was not in the least bit bothered by the rubber chunking off.

Say What? Colin Chapman

“We have no tire problem,” he said. “We plan to run the race on one set of tires.”

Chapman was asked if he was concerned by the fact that the tires had thrown off chunks of rubber while making the tests yesterday.

Calmly, Chapman dismissed the incident, and with a wave of his hand, said, “It is normal. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to talk to this chap.”

Jim Clark (IMS Photo)

Representatives of the two largest tires manufacturers represented at the track this year agreed that Gurney’s tires actually blistered during his tests at racing speeds.

One representative said, “They really got a good test. The track temperature was 132 degrees in the straightaways, and 137 degrees in the turns. That is just about the average heat of the track on race day.”

Henry Banks, director of racing for USAC, was asked if the Team Lotus cars assigned to Clark and Gurney would be allowed to switch tires if they proved to be a safety hazard.

Banks said, “Only if the tires failed completely would we allow that…these tires just blistered. They won’t be permitted to alter the types of tires or the compound of their tires now.”

“This,” Banks said, “is set forth clearly in the entry blank.”

Another USAC official said, “They will either have to run the race more slowly than they planned to, or make pit stops they hadn’t planned on.”

A spokesman for one of the tire companies said he thought the reason for the Dunlop tires blistering yesterday could be traced to a compound that is a little too soft, and a tread depth that is too deep and holds tire heat too long, which causes the rubber to blister.

Clark has no problem and everything is normal. (Rick Johnson Photo)

Heat Put On USAC For Goodyear Tire Ban

Tire Pressure Up?

By Rick Johnson-Indianapolis Star, May 21, 1964

The United States Auto Club is being subjected to pressures to ban a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company racing tire designed primarily for use on rear-engine cars at the Speedway, it was reported yesterday.

It was said that the principal objections regarding the tire were (1) that the tire had not been available to drivers at the track prior to the first weekend of qualifications; (2) that the tire had not been tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway prior to May 1 and (3) that to allow Goodyear to equip the five remaining cars of the rear-engine variety would be unfair because none of the qualified rear-engine cars had the opportunity to test the Goodyear tires.

A spokesman for the Goodyear Company denied that any of the allegations were true.

It was pointed out that Len Sutton, driving the No. 66 Bryant Heating and Cooling Special, and Bobby Johns, Miami Fla., rookie, driver of the No. 47 Hurst Floor-Shift Special, both had practiced on Goodyear tires similar to the ones in question.

Sutton tested tires for Goodyear of identical contour and compound at the Speedway in March, as did national driving champion A.J. Foyt, of Houston, Tex., a Goodyear representative said.

The tires were available if they had been wanted, he said.

At the present time, the only two rear-engine cars so far equipped with Goodyear tires are the No. 54 MG Liquid Suspension Special driven by Bob Veith, and the No. 8 Vita-Fresh Orange Juice Special driven by Duane Carter.

Both drivers are practicing on Goodyear tires, but have not qualified. Veith yesterday reached his highest speed of the month by turning a lap at 151.700 miles an hour.

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