Street Car Slicks - Your Cheating Heart

Street Legal Slicks

Wayne Scraba Jun 1, 2000 0 Comment(s)
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When you take the time to peruse the specs for street car race tires and compare them to an identically-sized slick, you'll often find that many of the street tires are heavier. Why? Two reasons: DOT tire requirements and the weight of the car.

The type of burnout you perform is related to the tire compound. For a car equipped with M5 compound tires, M/T offers this advice: "For the first pass of the day, make a hard burnout. Once that is accomplished, for an automatic transmission car, make a fairly hard burnout on the first pass or two. After that, a light burnout should suffice. For a stick shift car similar to a Super Stocker (a relatively heavy, full-bodied car), perform a light burnout, haze the tires, and stage immediately. Generally speaking, tires work better with a light burnout rather than a hard burnout. ET Street tires may require a fairly hard burnout on the first and second pass to break them in."

When it comes to overall life expectancy, these new-generation Quickest Street Car tires are much the same as slicks, and slick life can vary from car to car. According to the experts, inconsistent 60-foot and 330-foot times are caused by tread wear or carcass breakdown. These should be signals that it's time to change tires. While slicks have wear indicators on the tread face, street car tires don't. Typically when the grooves in a street car drag race tire are gone, then it's time to buy new rubber (the various sanctioning body rules might also stipulate that some tread must remain). Remember, cars that launch hard can cause the tire carcass material to break down. A good rule of thumb is to inspect your tires carefully after 30 passes. And if the car is very quick, the tires should be inspected more frequently.

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In order to meet the specialized requirements, street car race tires most often require more belt material. This tends to stiffen the sidewall and it also adds weight to the tire. This particular tire, a M/T 33X18.50-15LT, weighs approximately 6 pounds more than a similarly sized M/T slick.

Street car "slicks" are typically designed as tube-type tires. There are a number of reasons for this, but safety is a primary concern. In addition, a tube helps to maintain air pressure. It's not uncommon for a tubeless fastest street car tire to deflate quickly (that even includes several of the more streetable types with a full complement of tread). Mickey Thompson states that tubes will enhance the reaction time, increase the stiffness of the tire, and reduce sidewall shock and deflection when launching the car. Finally, the manufacturers polled claim that a tube helps with consistency, since the tube actually absorbs some of the heat from the tire.

What is the right type of tube to use? In drag racing, a natural-rubber tube is the most common. Although it sometimes done, it's not a good idea to use tubes designed for large trucks, since they are not sized correctly. For the most part, each manufacturer of drag race street tires will have an appropriate tube size for a given tire. What if you don't use the correct tube? Figure on replacing them often. One of the biggest causes of tube failure is the use of an incorrectly-sized tube.

According to Mickey Thompson, you may notice a low spot or wrinkle in a tube-type tire. This is often caused by the wrong tube size (the tube is either too large or too small). It can also be caused by a faulty installation. In order to confirm this, break the tire down and rotate it on the rim. You'll note that the low spot (if it is still there) has not moved. If you break the tire down and replace the tube with a standard tubeless style valve stem, then the low spot or wrinkle is eliminated. This should tell you that the tube is the root of the low spot. In order to eliminate wrinkles, the tube must be inflated and deflated during installation. If the wrinkle persists, you may have to lubricate the tube with talcum (baby) powder and/or break the tire down and work the wrinkles out by hand.

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