Super Tires History
by Sandy Laratonda
Nick Laratonda has been affiliated with H.O. slot car racing since 1960. He was the owner and operator of Williamsville National Speedway, a H.O. scale slot car raceway in Buffalo, New York for 10 years, from 1989 to 1999. During the years that Nick was running his H.O. slot car raceway, with the help of his family, he had the opportunity to try the different H.O. scale tires that were available. He realized that most of these after market H.O. tires were of poor quality. Nick decided to try to design a slip-on silicone racing tire that wouldn’t fly off the wheels and rip and tear easily after only a few laps.
Nick’s late father, Henry, helped him while he engineered and tested various compounds. It took years of experiments, while continuing to work construction with his dad and operating his raceway, but he finally accomplished his goal. Marty Leslie, a super stock racer from Nick’s H.O. racetrack, got Nick started with a 2 hole H.O. scale mold, back in 1994. It didn’t take long before that mold became a paperweight on Nick’s desk, which is where it is now.
Jerry Lange, a mutual friend of both Nick and his father, is the key machinist behind all of Super Tires special tools and equipment. Nick would tell Jerry what he needed and in a week or less, Jerry would call Nick so that he could pick up the requested item. Without Jerry’s ability to figure out how to create the necessary tools to do various jobs, Super Tires wouldn’t exist.
In 1995, Nick started manufacturing H.O. scale silicone racing tires. There wasn’t a Super Tires website back then and you couldn’t find anything about us on the internet either. Nick’s slot car hobby shop, Williamsville National Speedway, needed supplies and he bought his H.O. slot cars and parts from R.E.H. Distributing in Ohio. Nick sent Robert Haines, the owner of R.E.H., a dozen sample pairs of the H.O. tires that he made. Bob looked at the tires, called Nick on the phone and asked, “How many pairs do you have in inventory, right now?” Nick told Bob that he had about 10,000 pairs in stock. Bob asked, “How much for all of them?” The deal was made over the phone and the tires were packed, mailed and delivered to Bob’s place in 3 days. Nick has been doing business with R.E.H. for 25 years, first as a customer and then as a supplier. Their business relationship is stronger than ever and R.E.H. Distributing is Super Tires’ number 1, North American distributor. Thanks Bob, Kim & Terri, hope to meet you all one day soon.
Nick believes that Super Tires are the best rear slip-on H.O. tires that you will find on the market today. The years that he spent designing, engineering and testing Super Tires have made him certain that he has produced the finest rear slip-on H.O. silicone slot car racing tires available today. Super Tires H.O. scale tires come in multiple compounds, sizes and colors.
Nick would like to thank Ron and Mike from the machine shop for their great service and workmanship. They have been honest and fair with him since they started doing business together in 2003. Their high tech machinery and craftsmanship is the best that money can buy. They always treat him like he is their best customer whenever he goes to their shop.
Once Nick had H.O. scale tires down to a science, he decided to try his hand at making 1/32 scale tires. He followed the same process as before, but this time he had to have his tires tested by 1/32 scale racers. Steve Carfi, from PPR Slots, who had helped Nick in testing H.O. scale tires, now helped to test 1/32 scale tires. Nick also enlisted the help of the guys at Ace Hobby Shop in Niagara Falls, New York. Ron Shatzel, the owner of Ace Hobby Shop and “Yellow Dog” Dan O’Grady both played a part in this 1/32 scale testing. Super Tires Yellow Dog urethane tires are named after “Yellow Dog” Dan.
In 2007, Super Tires became a registered trademark that belongs to Nick Laratonda. The small business that Nick and his father, Henry started continues to be a family effort with Nick’s wife, Sandy and his son-in-law, Todd currently helping him. The business has expanded over the years. Nick now makes 26 different H.O. scale tires in 3 different compounds and a variety of colors. He also makes the H.O. Pro Series that come in 10 sizes with 20 combinations. In the 1/32 scale, Nick makes 70 different tires that are available in both silicone and urethane (Yellow Dog) compounds. Over all, Super Tires fit over 600 different applications including the most popular cars from the current slot car manufacturers in business today. In addition, we make a few of the 1/24 and 1/43 scale tires. Rounding things out, we also carry wheels for H.O. scale and 1/32 scale slot cars that specifically go with Super Tires. In fact, Super Tires makes tires to fit the majority of the original existing stock wheels from most of the slot car manufacturers in existence today.
Nick describes Super Tires as a “Dream that became true.”, but there is a lot of hard work that Nick put into his dream, Unlike other manufacturers, Super Tires is not just a part time hobby, it’s his livelihood. His 1/32 scale tires have been part of record setting, winning teams for years. Super Tires 1/32 scale tires won the Slot Car Illustrated 2009 award for “Best Enhancement Product for Scale Model Slot Cars” and continue to be the standard for comparison for all other 1/32 scale tires.
Team Super Tires wants to give a very special thanks to Rich Dumas, normally called Rich D on both Slot Car Illustrated, (SCI), and Home Racing World. This kind gentleman was our “most valuable player” in the fine tuning and development stages of the Super Tires H.O. scale department. Over the last four years, (2012-2016), Rich D has been good enough to share his extensive knowledge in every scale of slot cars with the Super Tires Team. He has used his own track and slot cars to test a number of our H.O. tires before they were put into production. There aren’t many people who are willing to use their time and equipment to help improve a product for someone else.
If there is ever a slot car hall of fame, Rich D would receive the votes from the entire Super Tires Team. Since we don’t know if we’ll ever get the opportunity to meet Rich in person, we want to make sure that his contribution is recorded on the Super Tires website. This will give the members of the slot car industry some insight as to the kind of guy that Rich is.
Super Tires Nick may not be a regular, routine type of racer, but he has been very dedicated to making high performance slot car tires for quite a few years. He knows a class A, heads up, type of guy when he talks with him on the phone and Rich D is up there with the best of the best. As always, we thank you for all of your time, effort and equipment.
This page is far from being completed. Team Super Tires is still working on new tires and wheels and we will make sure that we let all of our Super Tires racers and supporters know when new products are available.