Street Car Slicks - Your Cheating Heart

Street Legal Slicks

Wayne Scraba Jun 1, 2000 0 Comment(s)
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The sidewall of a DOT tire includes some important information. For example, this M/T tire shows the load range, the maximum tire load (2,170 pounds) and the sidewall and tread construction (2-ply and 4-ply, respectively). One thing you won't find on a M/T tire is a directional arrow. It's not required since the tires can operate in either direction.

What range of tires are available? You might be surprised at the choices. Using Hoosier and Mickey Thompson as the examples, sizes range from 8-inch wide by 26-inch tall tires all the way up to simply massive 22-1/2-inch-wide by 35- inch tall tires (these huge by large tires have true tread widths of 17 inches)! Mickey Thompson has 14 tires in their ET Street series, while Hoosier offers 17 different tires in their Quick Time Pro series. Mickey Thompson sizes are in the 15 and 16-inch rim diameter range, while Hoosier's line up covers sizes in 14, 15, and 16-inch rim diameter sizes. In terms of rim width, each manufacturer publishes a range of wheel rim widths that are applicable to the tire you select. This is most often referred to as the "design rim" in the application charts. Typically, street drag tires are available in sizes to fit rim widths ranging from 6 inches all the way up to 16-plus inches.

On another front, M&H Racemaster is in the process of releasing an entire new line of DOT race tires. In the past, the M&H tires were primarily a full-tread design. The new lineup (called the HB-10 series) is based upon the in-vogue "cheater slick" configuration. In other words, shallow grooves and maximum dry weather race track traction. What's interesting about the M&H lineup is the fact they have taken a focused approach to sizing. Many of the rules currently in style for Quickest Street Car drag racing limit certain classes to a "10-inch wide" tire. For practical purposes, these tires are most often 11.5 inches wide (the maximum most sanctioning bodies will accept). None of the rules limit diameter, and as a result, M&H will offer at least three different tires to fit this rule: An 11.5 X 30-inch tire, an 11.5 X 31-inch tire, and a monstrous 11.5 X 32-inch tire (shades of vintage Top Fuel tires). Other sizes will be offered as well. Expect to see these tires available for sale as this is printed.

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Another thing to keep in mind is the DOT marking. For some racing organizations, this is mandatory if you're going to compete. There are a number of classes that restrict cars to DOT tires only. Some specify maximum tire dimensions. Others don't.

How much air pressure is required for these tires? According to Mickey Thompson, proper air pressure is critical in their ET Street drag tire, especially from a performance perspective. Thompson notes that recommending air pressure isn't easy, since there are so many variables involved. For example, the weight distribution of the car, the transmission type, the chassis setup, wheel size, and other factors add up, and they can have an effect upon operating pressures. M/T offers this advice: "In drag racing, many racers feel that "less is better" with regard to air pressure. This is not always the case. While there are exceptions to every rule, we have found higher pressures generally work best with Mickey Thompson tires. Not only do the higher pressures lead to quicker times, but they also contribute to a safer, more stable ride at the finish line".

Mickey Thompson has a list of six categories as recommended starting points for tire pressure. According to M/T, the actual optimum air pressure may vary significantly, depending, of course on the previously mentioned variables. The recommended baseline pressures are on the last page of this article.

Summary
As you can see, tires designed principally for street car drag racing are not slicks with a couple of grooves cut in them. But they are dedicated race tires that were designed from the ground up for the application. Given the reduced tread depth and the special compounds found in these tires, they should be used on dry pavement only and they really aren't suitable for highway use. Remember, these are specialized race tires. And they offer way more bite than a set of recapped Atlas Bucrons!

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