AMA Pro Racing’s recent announcement of a spec tire was not welcome to at least one other tire manufacturer, Continental, which has been involved in dirt track at the Grand National level for the past two years.
“We’re disappointed,” Continental Tires representative Greg Tysor said. “There has not been a spec tire in dirt track for many years – the class is already spec enough. Our company had offered a sizable contingency plan, but the AMA felt that this move would save riders money.”
One sticking point, according to Tysor, was the fact that AMA Pro Racing mandated that the spec tire be able to be run in either direction, a common practice in dirt track racing. Continental tires were banned briefly at the end of the 2000 season due to safety concerns after an incident at the Springfield Mile when factory Harley-Davidson rider Scott Parker’s Continental rear tire suffered a tread separation. The brand was reinstated in 2001 and proved to be the tire of choice on the looser, pea-gravel tracks on the circuit. Even so, Tysor claims that meeting the AMA’s safety criteria would be all but impossible for any tire manufacturer.
“If you understand tread splicing, then you would also understand that if you ask a tire engineer to build a bi-directional tire that is capable of 140 mph in a high-traction environment, he’ll just laugh at you. That’s like asking Jim Allen of Dunlop to build a bi-directional road race tire. Our tires have a directional arrow, and Goodyear tires have a directional arrow. But the bi-directional thing was something that the AMA mandated to us.
“We are still able to sell tires for the AMA Hot Shoe Series and also for the regular AMA pro races, but it was important to us to be able to compete at the top level in light of the new television opportunities that have come along. This is just an unfortunate turn of events.”