Nitto Tire's drag radials have long been used by street/strip mongers smart enough to realize that mph at the big end doesn't mean jack if you are smoking the tires for the first 200 feet of the 1,320. We procured one of the first sets of Nitto's new 20-inch drag radials and tried them on both a lightning-fast Trailblazer SS and a modified, nitrous-swilling Chevy SSR. A simple rear tire swap to Nitto's NT555R combines exceptional street manners, extended longevity, and enough rear-end squat to plant you hard into the seat.
We got our paws on Nitto's 20-inch NT555R and witnessed the same great performance we've come to expect from this manufacturer. Not only can you beat them up on the street for over 15,000 miles, but they'll allow you to drop 60-foot times dramatically with a simple tire pressure change at your local dragstrip. As any drag racer will tell you, the key to achieving quicker elapsed times is all about the first 200 feet, and not the last (contrary to popular belief).
The 20-inch NT555R is available in both 275/40R20 and 305/35R20 sizes. We went with 305/35R20 because it was the most similar to the stock tires of our test trucks in diameter and tread-wall height, while providing over 12 inches of width.
For our test, we contacted Matt Hauffe at Tune Time Performance (Toms River, New Jersey), who provided us with an earth-shattering rear-wheel-drive 2006 Trailblazer SS complete with an automatic transmission, and a flame-empowered 2005 SSR with a manual tranny, both of which were equipped with nitrous oxide. We gave the tires to the owners, who have had experience with drag radials in the past, and asked them to drive on the street for the next week and a half and report back with an update. Tony Sgro, owner of the Trailblazer, could not have been happier with the street manners.
"The street and a prepped drag- strip are two completely different animals. My truck never hooks on the street with the stock tires, and I expected similar results with the Nittos, but was surprised when I punched it and got pitted into the seat," Sgro said. "Also, other makes of drag radials provide a maximum of 5,000 miles on the street. I have been able to take all my Nitto drag radials past 10,000 and even further than that."
We tested the trucks at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, both on and off the 125 shot of nitrous, and saw great results on the dragstrip. We tried absolutely everything with the stock tires to try to get them to hook. We even had the track lay down some VHT to add tackiness, but to no avail, as the tire smoke could be smelled across Route 9. We took out tire pressure, eased into the throttle, and after all that, the best 60-foot time we could muster was a 1.90 with the Trailblazer SS, and a 2.24 with the SSR. Best e.t. for the Trailblazer SS was 11.981 at 112.31, and 13.869 at 109.11 for the SSR.
We then swapped on the Nittos and could instantly hear the added noise as the high-grip compound of the NT555R rolled out of the burnout box. Optimal tire pressure on the drag radials was achieved at 20 psi in both vehicles. In the Trailblazer, we made three hits back-to-back, and recorded ultra-consistent 60-foot times of 1.697, 1.711, and 1.702-all at an astonishing 4,800 pounds (with driver). With the SSR, we dropped a similar two-tenths in the 60-foot to 2.084 seconds from 2.262 (weight on the SSR was an earth-crushing 5,150 pounds).
On the big end, the best run on the sauce for the Trailblazer was 11.782 at 112.74 mph, and 13.080 at 111.70 in the SSR. Obviously, the tires helped the traction-limited six-speed SSR a lot more than the TB SS.
Department of Transportation approved, the triple-nickels performed in every way we expected them to. On the street, they provided durability and longevity, and at the strip, they flat-out performed, launching a 2.5-ton truck down the quarter-mile without even a hint of tire spin. Could you ask for much more out of a tire?