Burnout lengths vary depending on the car and the track conditions, so some experimentation is necessary. However, there are some basic guidelines beginners can benefit from. M/T recommends spinning the tires until you see smoke billowing over the rear bumper in the rearview mirror. "Drive the car hard out of the burnout box and prestage immediately," says Ken. "In a very light car or a dragster, you will feel the tires bog you down during the burnout when it's been long enough. Again, prestage immediately, as this will glue you to the track." When the ambient temperature is hot, the burnout can be shortened to about half to two-thirds the normal length.
Mixing Slicks And Radials
For those who don't want to invest in a set of skinnies, it's common practice to run regular street tires up front when bolting up slicks at the dragstrip. This can make a car twitchy, but as long as you're smooth with the steering wheel you should be OK. "We recommend that bias-ply tires and radials not be mixed due to poor tracking," says Ken. "However, it is fairly uncommon in drag racing to have adverse handling issues due to mixing radials up front and bias-ply slicks out back. Drag racing is not considered a sustained duration of speed; therefore, it does not amplify the poor handling characteristics you would experience during normal street driving."
"The more air pressure the better," Ken says. "If the tire is right, the chassis is right, and everything is working properly, you want to run the most air pressure possible. More air equates to less rolling resistance, which yields better e.t.'s and trap speed. With too little air pressure, a car tends to drive the wheel into the ground at the starting line, which could pinch the tube and de-bead or cut the tire. Also, the car will handle very poorly by swaying around at the top end of the track. If you need assistance, you can always call M/T or check the tech section on our Web site for an air pressure staring point."
It's not uncommon for a tire to lose grip before its tread wears out. All tires and compounds will harden or cure when subjected to heat cycles. Fortunately, some simple techniques can greatly increase the effective lifespan of drag tires. "Overheating the tire will accelerate the effect of hardening, so it's important not to perform a longer burnout than necessary," explains Ken. "If you see any signs of graining on the tread, rotate the tires from side to side. This will reverse the direction of the tread tearing and smooth the tire back to a velvet texture rather than a rough texture."