Tires engineered for drag racing are extremely specialized equipment and critical to the performance and safety of the drag racer. Traction in drag racing (along with power-weight ratio and driver input/reaction times) is critical to success.  If the tire spins on launch (and high-powered drag racers can spin the tires at any speed), energy that should be applied to driving the drag car forward is wasted.

Often called ‘slicks’ or less commonly wrinklewalls (the tire deforms as the throttle is engaged), drag racing tires (most specifically for this discussion, the rear tires) have a number of specialized features:

  • Chemicals in the tire aid in traction, and are released when the tire is heated (through the burnout.)  If too little or too much of the chemical is released (through over or under heating, then the tire will not hold traction efficiently).
  • The tires are extremely soft…when heated through acceleration the tires adhere very well to the track surface.
  • Drag racing tires do not have a tread pattern and are engineered for straight-line performance…curvy roads in the rain would be a disaster.
  • Drag racing tires are engineered to deform under the downforce of acceleration, thereby creating a larger contact patch (larger surface area) between the racing tire and the track surface.
  • Drag racing tires are notably wide…again, in an effort to create a larger contact patch between the tire and track surface.
drag racing tires

Air pressure is adjusted on the Dixie Twister prior to the race.

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