Drag racing – every petrolhead has done it at least once in their lives. Nothing’s more satisfactory than beating an opponent in a straight line or a quarter-mile race. This is why there’s a section of tires in the industry specifically catering to drag racing. Drag racing tires are tools specifically designed to fulfill your need for speed. Therefore, every racing enthusiast must know about the best street tires for drag racing.
Today’s drag racing tires are more than just radial lumps of rubber for burning. They’ve become quite sophisticated, and are more comfortable and long-lasting now. However, these qualities aren’t found on every drag racing tire. And since drag racing is potentially dangerous, one should pick only the best set of them. Hence, here’s a list of the best street tires for drag racing in 2021, that are street legal.
You’ll also find a helpful buying guide at the end of the article for drag radials.
1.Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R
The first on the list of best street tires for drag racing is the Potenza RE-71R. This tire has a unique tread compound that gives it a larger contact area with the road. It also has stiffer shoulders than its peers. As a result, you get superb cornering and braking. A wide rib runs through the tire’s center and this adds to its steering response. The hydro evacuation surface helps channel water better for wet roads.
The tire also doesn’t wear out as quickly as it should, but it’s not all perfect. The tire’s stiffness reminds you that it’s not meant for cruising. Apart from it being fine-tuned for the summer, you might find the tire noisy as well. This tire is also one of the pricier ones on this list. Regardless, no one will complain to you about its quality and capability. It is Bridgestone’s most-extreme ultra-high-performance tire today.
2.Cooper Cobra Radial G/T
Cooper call this a classic muscle car tire for a reason. It looks and feels spot on when you slap a set of it on an American muscle car. But as great as it looks, it also has a plenty to offer in terms of performance. It makes a stellar amount of contact with the tarmac. The tire’s water dispersion is at an all-time high and this makes it work throughout the year. This is partly because of its longitudinal grooves.
But the selling point of this tire is its treadwear. Its tread shape is balanced for better wear and longevity. The notched rib running through its center also helps out. The shoulder blocks are slotted to bring about good grip without taking too much damage. The pitch squeezing makes it quiet and the ride is also comfy. You also get coverage for 50k miles. The winter and wet performances could improve though. Still, they’re not enough to remove this from the list of best street tires for drag racing.
3.Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3
If the Cooper tire above oozes treadwear, then this tire does the same for traction. The tread compound is fine-tuned for racing and the tire is very light as well. Its Combination Grip Technology makes it a force to be reckoned with while cornering. The handling and steering response are excellent. The tread pattern is asymmetric for maintaining grip in wetter conditions.
The tire is comfortable for cruising as well. You also won’t be complaining about any unwanted noises. As racing is dangerous, you also receive enhanced rim protectors. These protect the rim in case you hit the curb or any sort of pavement. The cons aren’t plenty and include the tire’s price tag. But it is a premium level tire and its cost alludes to its quality. It’s easily one of the best street tires for drag racing.
4.Nitto NT05R Drag Radial Tire
Now this one’s for only the best racers. The NT05R is one of the best street tires for drag racing. It features a specialized, drag-race oriented tread compound. The large contact patch enhances its contact with the road. This is because of its large center-running rib. The pressure is also distributed well across the tire’s tread. It also features an enhanced sidewall plus high-modulus bead fillers.
The shoulder blocks are large as well. All these features make the tire more suitable for high speeds. For the best usage, you can put a pair of NT05Rs on the driven axle and its non-R counterpart on the other two. There are drawbacks with this tire though. The tire is not as comfortable as some on this list. It is also for people with expensive tastes. There are also better options for wet performances.
5.Toyo Proxes R1R
This one’s quite a treat for those who like fast-paced driving. The Proxes R1R comes with a silica tread compound for traction. Its unidirectional tread is for making it efficient on dry and wet surfaces alike. The center block edge is tapered to prevent irregular wear and hydroplaning. The tire also features an autocross-inspired casing. This improves its handling and makes its steering more responsive.
The stability control slits further reduce irregular wear. They also improve the braking for the most part. The tire is efficiently priced as well and they come with a limited warranty. The comfort levels are decent for the drag racing category. But these tires could use an improvement on wet tarmac. Still, it’s one of the best street tires for drag racing and will transform your boring old car into a beast.
6.Mickey Thompson ET Street R
Another one of the best street tires for drag racing is the ET Street R. It is from Mickey Thompson, a company known for their excellent offroading tires. This tire comes with a minimal tread void which increases the tread’s contact with the road. This makes it excellent for sudden accelerations if you have a lot of horsepower. The tire comes with a lot of grip for dry roads and the ride control is excellent.
It is also tubeless, so it’s not prone to leakage. And you won’t be dealing with those pesky tubes. Other than that, it doesn’t wear as quickly as other tires this aggressive. It is also remarkably quiet for its class and you can expect a comfortable ride on the street. The only drawback of this tire is the heavy price tag as it’s a premium drag radial.
7.BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5
As BFGoodrich comes under Michelin, this tire has been designed smartly. For starters, it comes with the Rival S tread compound. This helps it warm up quickly before drag races and perform well on dry roads. It also features Performance Racing Core (PRC) technology. This means that its internal structure has been designed to reduce sidewall flex and quicken the steering response.
The overall transitional handling is also better as a result. Unlike most drag racing tires, you also received a 6-year standard limited warranty. The only con is that some feel it gives you understeer and the feedback becomes poor at large steering angles. It is also available in limited sizes. Regardless, once you heat it up, it becomes one of the best street racing tires for drag racing.
8.Toyo Tires Extensa HP II
This is the second entry on the list of best street tires for drag racing from Toyo. The Extensa HP II is a sleek and stylish UHP tire. It comes with a unidirectional tread that provides traction all throughout the year. The single- and double-cut tapers make it optimize the block stiffness for better braking. The silica compound improves its wet performance and gives it a better tread life.
The tire also has full depth multi-wave sipes. These not only make it fare better on slippery surfaces. But they improve the tread life by reducing irregular wear as well. They also make it quieter and smoother when you’re in a mood for cruising. Overall, this tire has one of the best treadwear capabilities amongst drag tires. It’s well-priced and who can forget; it also comes with a 45k-mile warranty.
9.Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R
The Pilot Sport Cup 2 R is a tire for only the fastest drivers. In fact, you can find a set of it on many hyper-cars and supercars. It’s a tire you should consider if you need to set a record lap time. Michelin say that it can reduce your best lap time by up to 0.8 seconds. The tread pattern enhances ground contact by 10pc compared to the previous model. The braking on dry tarmac is one of the best in the class.
The control you get while turning and cornering is outstanding. The steering is very responsive and the feedback is good. The comfort and noise levels are average. However, the tire’s performance on wet roads can be considered a turn off. This tire is also one of the most expensive in this category. You do get a limited warranty encompassing 6 years. Overall, this is one of the quickest and hence best street tires for drag racing.
10.Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
You’ll find this tire near to or at the top of every UHP tires list. It is loaded with technology to make driving fun. The Dynamic Response Technology rearranges the tire to cater for better steering and stability while cornering. It also improves the tire’s tread life quite a bit. The tire is excellent at high speeds. The Multi-Compound Construction makes this tire work on all surfaces; wet or dry.
The hybrid compound and the elastomers also work together to improve it on the aforementioned surfaces. Being one of the best street tires for drag racing and high-performance, you can find it on many supercars and sports cars. Yes, it’s expensive like most Michelin tires. But you also get coverage for 6 years apart from the great 30,000 miles treadwear warranty.
Best Street Tires for Drag Racing: Buying Guide
One needs the know-how while getting any type of tires. While purchasing a set of drag radials, it is important to know about the following:
Should I pick summer tires or all-season tires?
All-season tires are definitely the cheaper option. They’re great for performance as well. You can get more miles out of an all-season drag tire as compared to its summer counterpart. However, enthusiasts tend to frown upon them for track usage. This is because they work better on the street.
In contrast, a set of summer tires will be better for you if you’re a track day enthusiast. This is not only because they’re better at handling the heat. But it’s also because they’re usually designed for better traction on dry roads. Their cons include less treadwear, higher prices, and not working in the cold.
So, if you’ll mostly be spending time on drag strips, pick a set of summer tires. They’ll help you make the most out of your car. If you’ll mostly drive fast on the road, a set of all-season radials will do just fine.
What type of performance tires exist?
There are many types of performance tires, each with their own capability. Users pick them based on their prices, regular usability, and tire size. The order is as follows in the terms of increasing performance:
- HP tires
- Max-performance tires
- Extreme-performance tires
- Streetable track & competition tires
If the last category isn’t sufficient for your needs, then you should get a set of D.O.T rated drag radials.
What is D.O.T. Rated in drag racing?
This is something you’ll hear a lot when it comes to drag radials. If a tire has such a rating, it means that it is essentially a full-on drag racing tire that has been approved for street usage. The drag radials that aren’t DOT rated are only good for the track and the drag strip; not for your regular roadways.
Tube tires vs tubeless tires
As mentioned above, the Mickey Thompson ET Street R is a tubeless tire. Hence its maintenance is a lot easier. This also means that you shouldn’t pair it up with a combination of tube tires. This is because their performance differs and this can negatively affect your results on the strip.
How to store drag radials?
If you’ve got a set of summer drag tires, then storing them could be a bit more difficult. Whether you keep them on or remove them from your vehicle, they cannot be kept in freezing temperatures. This is because they will get damaged and wont’ perform as well. Mechanic Insider recommends 40-90 °F.
But it doesn’t end there. You should ensure that these tires aren’t inflated and are kept away from sunlight. Also, try to protect them from any type of grease or anything that can damage their rubber. These are small prices to pay for their high performance.