National Series Introduces Street Tire Stock Classes
The Tire Rack SCCA National Solo Series and the Solo Events Board have announced the addition of several supplemental classes for the 2012 season. These classes, dubbed “Road Tire” or RT, are designed to give competitors who wish to compete within the Stock Category rule set, but do so on traditional street tires, a place to play. The classes will follow the existing Stock class rules, but limit the tire options to those with a 140 or higher tread wear rating.
National Tour events will see the addition of 6 RT Classes, 3 open and 3 ladies, divided by drivetrain. RTF will include all front wheel drive Stock classed cars, RTR will be for all rear wheel drive cars and RTA will cater to all wheel drive vehicles. These classes will be scored on Rick Ruth’s Racer’s Theoretical Performance (RTP) indexing system.
The ProSolo series will only get two of these classes. An Open and a Ladies class for all RT cars. The Open Class will be simply be denoted as RT, while the Ladies class will follow the traditional Ladies classing and carry an L4 designation. These classes will also be scored using the RTP index.
Howard Duncan, VP of Rally/Solo sees this move as keeping the program in line with the core values of the club. Duncan points out that “one of the Core Strategies for the ProSolo Series listed in the rule book for years has been to ‘provide participation opportunities for multiple levels of driver experience and commitment (recreational, club, pro)’ and the National Solo Rules have included for over 20 years Core Values that include a ‘variety of competition experiences’ and ‘increased participation and involvement.’” Duncan adds, “The Road Tire category of classes fits perfectly with those concepts by allowing drivers that have participated for years at the local level in road tire type classes all over the country to now become involved with the Tire Rack National Solo program in a competitive way.”
The concept of traditional street tires in Stock Classes is not a new, but Duncan feels that now is the time to test it. “It is a combination of recent economic forces that are causing Stock category competitors to re-evaluate their participation in Solo due to costs and the number of drivers now running road tire type classes at the local level has increased dramatically in recent years. These factors have created an environment that seems ripe for trying something new at National Solo events.”
Solo Events Board member, Dave Hardy agrees with Duncan that now is a good time to test the concept. Hardy notes, “For years, if not decades, the debate about whether the Stock classes should compete on R-Comps or Street tires has raged on. When stock class was flourishing, the SEB was not very motivated to rock the boat. But after several years of stock class decline, with a large number of competitors pointing to rising tire cost and reduced tire life as the reason, the SEB has decided that it's time to test the waters on street tires in stock class.” Hardy is quick to point out, however, while participation in these classes will be closely monitored to gauge interest, the SEB is not looking to make a change without cause.
For Hardy, the bottom line is participation. “If the response is overwhelmingly positive, that sends us one message. If it is dismal, that sends another. The SEB is not going to pursue such a significant change to a category without a clear mandate, and that mandate is best demonstrated in participation numbers.” According to Hardy, that mandate needs to come not only from the current participants who prefer street tires, but also from the vocal population of drivers who have called for this opportunity. “In short, for all of the people who have for years said that you would be at the national events if not for the need to run R-Comps to be competitive, it's time to put up or shut up!"