SPRINTCAR legend Max Dumesny says the tyre shortage impacting the Australian season is the worst he's seen in his 30 years at Hoosier Australia.
Race formats are being altered and drivers' patience tested with resources from America limited owing to staff shortages.
Sky-high freight costs and delays are adding an additional burden to those in the racing industry.
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Sydney-based Dumesny - a three-time Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic champion who was raised at Nullawarre in Victoria's Western District - said it was an unfamiliar situation.
"They've always had an abundance of stock and we order them and get what we want but this has been different," he told The Standard.
"Hoosier can't produce enough tyres at the moment.
"They are having trouble getting staff over there to build with all the COVID relief everyone is getting - they are all on better money to stay home. It is going to impact the whole season on the left-rear tyre side of things. I think the right-rear and the fronts will be OK."
Getting tyres ordered is one thing, getting them on Australian shores another stress.
"We have air freight which arrived over the weekend which should relieve us. It was supposed to be here for last week," he said of the most recent delivery.
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"Sea freight normally takes five weeks and these took four weeks to air freight.
"Our sea freight is taking eight to 10 weeks to get here. Nothing is easy at the moment."
Dumesny said tyre wear was dependant on track conditions. Hoosier is limiting drivers to one right-rear and one left-rear tyre per meeting as it navigates its way through the shortage.
Being resourceful is helping teams stay on the dirt circuits.
"We have to keep on trying. Everyone is recycling what they've got," Dumesny said.
"As long as they don't run out of rubber and blow tyres, it's not too bad.
"Normally a team will go through one right-rear and one left-rear per meeting.
"People who splurge a little bit might use two right-rears. It depends on the track as well. If you are tearing a tyre up in a heat race, it gets very expensive."
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Dumesny, whose sons Matthew and Marcus have followed in his footsteps, said tyres had varying shelf lives.
"When you get on the racetrack you don't think of anything else but racing, you just go out there and do the best you can. If a tyre doesn't make it, it doesn't make it," he said of drivers' mindsets.
"If the track has moisture in it, it doesn't generally kill tyres.
"At Avalon the last two weeks - one night didn't use tyres at all and the other night it did. It depends on the weather - the heat of the day, the sun and the wind all contribute to the track being abrasive. We're at the mercy of the gods."
The South West Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic in three weeks' time will consist of three nights of racing.
Drivers will compete on two of the three nights. Dumesny is hopeful the shortage won't hinder anyone's chances.
"We should be right for right-rear tyres and left-rear we may have a shortage but we're doing our best to get as many as we can here," he said.
"Generally the right-rear takes most of the wear."
Premier Speedway general manager David Mills said he had "a great deal of sympathy" for drivers.
The Allansford-based club is also fine-tuning a new track surface.
"Venues like our which are a little bit left-rear dominant with the way the cars handle makes it tricky because you're trying to find that happy medium," he said.
"If you want passing and no tyre wear, it's a fine line to find. Two meetings in on a new surface, we're still working on it. The boys certainly haven't given up, that's for sure.
"And we anticipated it would take a few shows to work that out and with COVID impacting the delayed start to the year, it probably reduced our capacity to have some shows on it as well.
"It is our lot in life at the moment and we have to deal with that. We pride ourselves on being one of the best venues in the country and at the moment we're not quite where we want to be."
Mills hopes 125 cars - wingless sprints, formula 500s and speedcars - racing on Saturday night will benefit the track.
But he said the tyre shortage was also impacting those classes.
"The wingless, a lot of those teams will run right-rear tyres which have been disposed of by the sprintcar teams and get a few nights out of them," he said.
"And because the sprintcar teams are now utilising second-hand tyres and turning them and running them in the opposite direction, the availability of those tyres is minimal.
"It will be interesting to see how the wingless guys cope throughout the course of the season as well and how the other divisions are going with tyre supply.
"The formula 500 guys are going to struggle to get certain sizes of tyres as well."
Dumesny conceded it was a less than ideal situation but it was a result of "the tail-end of COVID".
"Life will go on and we're able to enjoy our great sport of speedway. I think we're all pretty lucky," he said.
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