New Gloucester native Dalton Myers checks tire pressures on Derek Ramstrom’s Pro All Series (PASS) North series entry. Myers took an interest in race tires at an early age and has become a go-to guru for race teams around the northeast. (Submitted photo)

For 24-year-old New Gloucester native Dalton Myers, keeping track of race tires is a way of life. He’s been around racing since he was a baby, taken to the tracks by his parents, Sharlene and Donnie, both heavily involved in the sport for years.

Dalton’s in-depth knowledge of tires and how to maximize them has made him a popular man. In 2018, he’s working with Massachusetts-based Derek Ramstrom as his primary gig, yet he also helps several other teams on a part-time basis. 

Ramstrom got off to a slow start this year but has improved in recent weeks. 

“It’s been a little bit of a struggle this year with Derek’s program,” Myers said. “He got a new car, so we’ve experienced some new-car blues. We’ve made some gains, we just haven’t had any good luck.

“We went to Seekonk (Mass.) on July 18 for the Pro Stock Nationals and finished third, our best run of 2018.”

Along with Ramstrom, Myers also picks out the tires for Travis Benjamin, Reid Lanpher, Derek Griffith, Ivan Kaffel, Ray Christian III and John Peters. 

Myers has been in the pit area at local short tracks for over a decade. How he came to be a tire guru may surprise you.

“The whole time I’ve been working on race cars, I’ve been doing tires,” Myers said. “I started when I was 12 years old when DJ Shaw started racing Late Models at White Mountain Motorsports Park. My parents and his parents have been friends for years.

“Dale (DJ’s father) asked my dad if he would come help on the car, and I tagged along. They put me on tire duty at that point, and from then on, I just kind of stuck with them.” 

Myers has picked up skills from one of the sport’s top tire masters, Wesley Weed. Now living in Concord, North Carolina, Weed is a Maine native with years of experience.

“I met Dalton in Anderson, South Carolina, when he and his parents came down while working with Ben Rowe,” Weed said. “We won the race, and Dalton has really come into his own. He’s always trying to get better. We work very well together, and I know he’s a real asset to the teams he helps.” 

For those uninitiated in race tire terminology, the key thing specialists keep track of is “stagger.” It’s a term used to describe the difference in circumference between left and right side tires. 

Cars that race on oval tracks and always turn left use slightly larger tires (two to three inches of stagger, depending on the car) on the right side versus the left to help the car get through the corners easier.

To visualize this concept, you can do an easy demonstration at home using two common household items.

“Whenever somebody asks me, I grab a water bottle and a plastic coffee cup,” Myers said. “If you roll the water bottle on the table, it goes straight. When you roll the coffee cup with one small end and one bigger one, it goes in a circle. A race car is the same way, tire stagger helps it turn left easier.”

Myers has already built quite a resume for himself as a tire specialist. In 2015, he was part of Mike Rowe’s PASS North championship effort with Petit Motorsports.

“Being a part of that title run with Mike was very rewarding,” Myers said. “I also went back to the Petit team about halfway through last year and helped them win a PASS title with Travis Benjamin, which was pretty cool.

“My favorite accomplishment happened back in August of 2013 over at White Mountain. We had been rained out there earlier in the month, so we ended up running a doubleheader. I was working with Joey Doiron at the time, and we actually won both races. That was satisfying for the entire team.”

Things are going pretty well for the tire man these days, as well. He counts an impressive day on the famed New Hampshire Motor Speedway among the highlights.

“This year, having cars I manage tires for finish first and second in Loudon during the New England Short Track Showdown on June 24 was huge,” Myers said. “The cars were using different tires than I’ve ever seen before. They were using McCreary tires, similar to American Racer but just a little different.”

As the region’s top tire specialist, at least on the touring and local Super Late Model levels, Myers has started serving as a mentor for a talented young racer who shares his interest in tire management. Garrett Lamb races in the Mad Bomber class at Beech Ridge on Thursday nights.

“Garrett has that passion for racing, and he’s definitely picking up on the right skills. Greg Emerson asked me to teach him a few things, so I agreed to meet him,” Myers said. “Garrett is a great kid, he’s really smart and I enjoy working with him. He seems to be picking it up pretty quickly.”

“The biggest thing about this deal is you have to love doing it,” Myers added. “Most of the time, the tire guy will get credit for helping to win races. Yet when something goes wrong and the team has a bad night, it’s easy for them to say it must be the tires. You have to be able to absorb and fight through it.”

Lamb serves as the tire man for Dan Mckeage’s Naughty Racing No. 40 Pro Series entry. Mckeage is a 25-year veteran at Beech Ridge and is starting to rebound in performance after a little slump in 2017.

Dalton has basically taken me under his wing and taught me everything I need to know about tires,” Lamb said. “He has given me opportunities to work with other teams, and I can’t thank him enough.

“He’s a great teacher and has treated me like we’ve known each other for 16 years. He is a great mentor to me, and I have a ton of respect for his knowledge.”

As the 2018 season starts to wind down, Myers, just like every driver in the pit area, has a few goals in mind to check off before the pit gates are locked. 

“Just like a lot of drivers and team members, I’d really like to win the Oxford 250,” Myers said. “I also want to improve my skills on the weekly side. It’s a lot harder to work with two tires weekly than it is four. Tires are always a challenge.”

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