2018 ULTRA4 Rule Change
To Ultra4 Drivers, fans, and partners,
As many of you are aware, the concept of eliminating the use of redundant tire inflation systems (Tire Liners, Tire Balls, etc) has been discussed from multiple perspectives. From my perspective as the promoter of Ultra4 Racing, I need to provide a safe and competitive racing series. The bottom line is that having the ‘safety net’ that you won’t get a flat tire allows drivers to take risks with impunity. Those risks lead to an event that is harder to contain in a safe and predictable manner (as predictable as Off Road Racing can be). Secondarily, as a fan of the sport, I believe the ability to take care of your equipment is an area that differentiates competitors. I have held these views for several years now but have staunchly stood by our chief tenant of Unlimited Off Road Racing.
Over the past year, I have been approached by both competitors and Tire Manufacturers regarding the continued use of the technology. At this year’s King of the Hammers I asked all of our participating tire partners to join us for a meeting to discuss this issue and enforcing the DOT Tire rule in the EMC Classes of racing. All of the partners, with the exception of one, were present and all unanimously indicated from their point of view they would like to see this technology eliminated. This is not an indictment of a given brand. In fact, most tire companies have a variation of the same technology. Their perspective was that they wanted their tire designs to stand on their own merit. They all agreed that without the fall back of a secondary inflation system, they would be required to keep pushing development technology to make a better product. I have spoken to at least twenty teams individually and with very few exceptions have received variations of the same sentiments.
I want to be very clear. There has never been discussion about the safety or performance of any of these technologies. The ancillary finding that teams with secondary inflation systems experience more flats is almost certainly attributed to more aggressive driving as opposed to performance of the systems.
The final concern I had was an obligation to our drivers to protect their investments as best as possible. I do not want to cause teams to mothball thousands of dollars of parts based on a rule change. I have spoken to both manufacturers and teams and have quantified the service life of existing systems at two years.
As such, effective 12/31/2017, redundant tire inflation systems, anything that could be used to retain the tire profile in a puncture situation, will be illegal for use in Ultra4 competition.
As always, I am available to discuss this, or any matter, at any time.