AKRON—The continuing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the debut of a pair of much-anticipated technical changes in the racing world—the rollout of 18-inch radial racing tires in both NASCAR and Formula 1—until 2022.
Both Goodyear and Pirelli & Cie. S.p.A., the designated sole tire suppliers for the two racing series, respectively, continued to work on these next-generation developments throughout 2020 and are gearing up to complete the tasks by mid-2021 ahead of their expected competitive debut in 2022.
In Goodyear's case, the debut of the 18-inch racing radial for NASCAR is linked with the launch of NASCAR's "NextGen" car platform, which essentially is a uniform chassis and body specification powered separately by engines from the sport's three auto partners—Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.
Goodyear and NASCAR decided to adopt that larger rim-diameter-sized tires in August 2019. The current 15-inch formula has been used since the mid-1960s.
The change is designed to help make cars on the race track resemble more closely their street counterparts, nearly all of which are now fitted OE with larger-diameter tires, Greg Stucker, director of racing for Goodyear, said at that time.
The body styles used in NASCAR are the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro and Toyota Camry.
While the competition debut has been delayed, NASCAR and a handful of the sport's teams tested the Gen-7 platform a number of times in 2020, most recently in mid-December at Daytona International Speedway, and will expand the testing throughout 2021.
NASCAR officials had indicated that one of the top goals of the NextGen vehicle's first superspeedway test was establishing a baseline speed in single-car runs, finding the proper balance of horsepower and drag.
In developing the new tire, Stucker said Goodyear tapped into knowledge about lower-profile tires from the company's road-racing development team to accelerate the learning curve.