Views & Notes: Feb. 2016 Edition | Performance Racing Industry
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Views & Notes: Feb. 2016 Edition
By Dan Schechner on February 5, 2016

* CSI: IUPUI: A new study out of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) exploring the use of illicit chemicals on racing tires has revealed a potential game-changer in the pursuit of fair play.

The report, released last month by the Forensic and Investigative Sciences program at IUPUI, examined the use of tire-softening compounds—many of them readily available—that are typically applied days ahead of time in order to avoid detection during race-day tech inspection. It determined that 10 out of 70 (nearly 15 percent) tires on midget cars that finished among the top three in USAC-sanctioned races over a one-year period had been treated with some type of banned chemical substance. The fact that such products were detected, unfortunately, isn’t news. But what’s interesting is the manner in which researchers were able to discover the substances, as well as the effect it’s had on competition moving forward.

According to the study’s authors, they used a technique called gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) in concert with solid phase microextraction (SPME) to identify two distinct types of tire treatment products: plasticizer-based and hydrocarbon-based. GC-MS is said to be the gold standard for detection of foreign substances, as it’s used extensively in fire investigations, criminal forensics, and sports anti-doping analysis, among other applications. SPME, meantime, is essentially a process that separates different compounds from one another based on their physical and chemical makeups. When compared with an analysis of untainted tires, the treated ones were easily spotted.

“This kind of technique had not been previously used to detect performance-enhancing tire treatments,” stated lead investigator John Goodpaster. “We were able to identify even low levels of illicit chemicals, which would result in disqualification if found in competition.” Goodpaster further noted that as word circulated about his group’s tire-testing activities, the incidence of illegal treatments rapidly declined. What’s more, in addition to tires, IUPUI’s technique could also be used to evaluate race-grade fuels, oils, lubricants and cooling agents. We’ll be interested to see how this story develops.  

* Filling Out Brackets: Bracket racers rejoice, as you now have something special to look forward to when the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) opens its 2016 season at Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park on March 10.

The Pittsboro, North Carolina-based sanctioning body for eighth-mile doorslammers recently announced an all-new Bracket Bash program to accompany each of this year’s national events, beginning at Tulsa. The $3000-to-win, 0 through 4.99 ET category is a non-points earning class that welcomes open and full body cars. In addition, all PDRA/NHRA safety rules apply, and there will be a .500 full tree with crosstalk.

We had a hunch something was afoot late last year when PRI contributor Louise Ann Noeth spoke with the organization’s Senior VP of Marketing Derrick Beach for our January 2016 feature article on bracket racing. While Beach didn’t mention it initially, a follow-up call to PDRA offices in December revealed that officials were considering adding a class for this season. As it turns out, that decision was closer than we realized. More information, including full rules and series regulations, can be found at PDRA’s dedicated competition page, www.pdra660.com/competition/rules/brackets.

* Recipe For Success: It should come as no surprise that a race promoter born into his family’s wholesale/retail bakery business speaks in near-culinary terms when discussing his new Texas-based sprint car series.

“When you stir into a big kettle the ‘ingredients’ of a changing economy, higher costs to race, fans’ cost to attend, promoters’ cost to operate—this series addresses all of those realities,” said Darin Short, who along with Steve Lang recently launched the Sprint Car Bandits Series. Already the operation has booked five Dallas-area tracks—Abeline Speedway, Boyd Raceway, East Texas Speedway, LoneStar Speedway and Superbowl Speedway—for its inaugural season, which begins on April 16.

More dates and venues are in the works, Short told us, noting that at press time some two-dozen teams had committed to the series on either a full- or part-time basis. “As with any business, keeping on-trend with your customers’ needs is priority No. 1,” he added, reminding us that complete rules, scheduling and driver information can be found online at www.sprintcarbandits.com.

About the Author
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Dan Schechner is the Editor of Performance Racing Industry Magazine.
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