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Fastest Tires for the $ in Competition

captdistraction

GrumpyRacer
1,785
1,327
Phoenix, Az
If classing rules thrown out the window, what do people feel is the ultimate options for the club racer?

I currently run the Hoosier R7 in 315/30/18, which seems to be the monetary sweet spot for race-worthy grip that fits our rules packages (benefits to power/weight when running a DOT stamped tire).

I'm looking at trying to find some additional speed given my car is overweight and underpowered in the class I run. I've tried pirelli scrubs back in the day but they were slow, dunlops which were even worse, conti EC-Dry which outside a sticker cycle are the absolute worst (being the hardest compound) and I've played with A7's which are great but are used up by 3 cycles and typically become slippery halfway into a race (best be out front).

Thus, wanted to get some opinions if there's a faster option:

315 R7 - benchmark for predictability, ok falloff, 16 cycles at $400 a tire
315 A7 - perfect qualify tire, ok race tire, rough falloff, 6 cycles at $410 a tire
305/660 Pirelli DH - fast "hard" compound slick, great for 2 cycles, r7 quality for 4 more, then 30 cycles of nt01 like performance, not fast enough to race on - $600

There's the DH, NT01, Dunlop, Conti EC Dry, Conti P6000. Are there others I should consider all things equal?

Has anyone been successful running any sort of scrub tire?
 

Mad Hatter

Gotta go Faster
4,001
2,506
Santiago, Chile
I think the hunt for the cheap, fast tire is more like a search for the holy Grail.........

I have seen competitors show up with brand new Pirelli slicks and promptly put down a excepcional track time, at least for that particular day any ways.

Really liked the Dunlop DZ03G semislicks because they would go strong for at least 16 cycles and last another 20, but off the pace. Iny any case they were always 1 to 2 seconds off a R7. My Michelin Super Sports were excelent when new but after 10,000km (with quite a few track days thrown in), now they can barely keep any traction in the dry.... even though they look almost new....
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
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If you are like me running ST2 or GT2 ( NASA or SCCA ) , you are likely stuck using Hoosiers, since the Pirelli Slicks are .3 points and usually will put you into a higher class? I wish the Pirellis were okay since the tracks near me I end up running quicker than on R7s , and of course they are a ton cheaper. I can not imagine there are many alternatives that would keep you in the same class? We used to be able to run the Pirellis in our Region ( NASA ), but no longer, they are now requiring a point bonus. I don't notice any other tires you listed as being faster than R7s , to my knowledge, and I am in the same predicament..........so this Winter will be working on a weight reduction!!
 
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Bill Pemberton

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I weigh about the same as you, but with my HP I am over a bit with the tires. With the fast guys in ST2 around my area , and the quick guy in GT2 in SCCA, I need to lose weight to get a second or two. Actually, have not been running the 315s till lately ( was on 295 Hoosiers ), so am hoping they are faster than the Pirellis , anyway. At the Mustang Roundup , on the second day I was catching/passing the guys on Pirellis , and though the track was slower it was a good indication that the bigger size could be the answer?? Needless to say , will go with OpticArmor for the front and back windows, Tiger hood, Braille battery, and modify my rear exhaust -- prior owner thought the heavy GT500 exhaust looked cool, so I have some heavy weight back there. Need to get a better picture up of my car, as I look like a showroom car poseur with the one I have now, ha,ha!
 
3,781
3,716
This is the problem with anything over 15 inch. In 15s you can get pretty much anything you want, from dirt sprint car tires to supermodified tires and several different manufacturers. Once you go over that, the tire compounds become more focused.
 

Bill Pemberton

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I will say Blacksheep was spot on with the Pirellis about when they go - he mentioned this previously. Used them with no issues at a super smooth track ( Topeka ) , but they definitely had plenty of heat cycles. When they went, at another track, it was abrupt and I was hanging on for the second part of the race trying to keep slower cars behind me , and not succeeding in three cases.
 
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Fair

Go Big or Go Home
Supporting Vendor
248
387
Plano, TX
I'll start with a relatively cheap upgrade: One thing that we noticed to extend life and improve performance on the 315/30/18 Hoosier was to run them on 18x12" wheels instead of 18x11". You can't get these from the Group-Buy-Guys ;) but an 18x12" and even an 18x13" is a regular Forgestar size now. The 18x12 rears can fit without any major work but the front requires a small flare.

315 R7 - benchmark for predictability, ok falloff, 16 cycles at $400 a tire
315 A7 - perfect qualify tire, ok race tire, rough falloff, 6 cycles at $410 a tire
305/660 Pirelli DH - fast "hard" compound slick, great for 2 cycles, r7 quality for 4 more, then 30 cycles of nt01 like performance, not fast enough to race on - $600
There's the DH, NT01, Dunlop, Conti EC Dry, Conti P6000. Are there others I should consider all things equal?

1. I personally am not a believer in the magic of non-DOT slicks (Michelin, Conti, Pirelli). Some folks have tested both and swear by them, but they usually have very well funded drivers. Some of these might be faster, but they all take some laps to come up to speed. I've run TT against guys with these and I am usually faster in the first 3 laps on my fat ass car with A7s. The slicks might be faster over an entire race, but at $2000-2500/set and available only in weird sizes, its a non-starter for most racers that aren't millionaires. ;)

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2. Ive run some Conti slicks and been very unimpressed, but they have changed a bit in the past few years. Maybe they don't suck as much anymore. There is a 305mm version the GT4 cars use now but they are racing in a series with nothing but the same tire brand.

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3. The Conti/Pirelli/Michelin all take a weight penalty in ST1/2/3 that might worsen your race pace. I know Chris is in ST2 with an overweight car - and this might get hm closer to the limit on paper, I just don't think these tires are worth that penalty.

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3. The number one gain I could see for your car is going to a wider Hoosier, R7 or A7. 335mm and 345mm options exist. The cost isn't that much more than the 315, and the wider size makes them A) last longer, B) make more grip, and C) could allow the use of A's (without turning to greasy mush) for the entire length of important sprint races (like Nationals).

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Of course you will need a wider wheel package, and bodywork to make these 335/345 tires fit. A similar question came up on another Mustang forum last week, and in answering that I researched and found some more flare options for the S197. I am going to re-use some of what I wrote there below.

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The 18x12" rear is a fairly painless bolt on, as it doesn't require fender cutting of any sort. Just need to remove the chassis-side bump stop bracket (about 8 spot welds) and pay careful attention to rear backspacing - and a GOOD lateral control device on the axle. But some people don't want to mess with that work, so we just tell them to use 18x11" rear wheels for this tire. My 2011 GT above was on 18x12's and 315/30/18 A6 tires since 2012.

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This is our 2011 GT on 18x11" fronts and 18x12" rears with the 315/30/18 Hoosier A6, shown above. #ZeroPoke No spacers needed, but they do not rotate front to rear. The extreme sizes rarely do.

20130619_174547-L.jpg

We noticed that the 315 Hoosier wore a bit better on the 12" wide wheels, which gave them a tiny stretch. Mounted to the 1" narrower 18x11" wheels they have the slightest squeeze. We ran the 2012-13 NASA seasons on this 18x11F/18x12R setup, first in TTS (2012) then in TT3 (2013). By 2013 we were always on the Hoosier A6 compound. We like the "A" vs the "R" as it allowed me to get my fast laps in on lap 1 rather than lap 3 or 4, by which time the front of the TT grid has caught the rear... and then you are fighting traffic.

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In Texas we regularly see 45-70 cars in Time Trial. In TT3 we would usually sit around P3 to P5 on the overall grid. I'd tend to blast out for a flier, sometimes working out a deal with TT1 guys on Pirellis and other non-DOT slicks (that take longer to heat up) to let me by on the out lap, get my flier lap in, then let them pass me on hot lap 2 or 3, when I was doing a cool down lap and coming in.

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Part way into the 2013 season we decided to move all four corners to the 18x12" wheels - using the same 315/30/18 Hoosier A6 (then later the A7).

_DSF3655-L.jpg

Obviously this required us to cut the front fenders - but not the rears (which like I said, fit the 12s with just inboard bump stop removal). I purchased a new set of front fenders and kept the virgin OEM fenders in the attic, in case I ever reverted the car back to stock (we didn't). This was a modest investment but it looked ugly with just cut fenders.

_DSC_8552-L.jpg

With enough fender clearance to avoid cutting a tire at full bump, it worked, and we were faster like this - even with the tires sticking out in the air, looking terrible. We ran the rest of the 2013 NASA season like this.

DSC_9904-L.jpg

We made flares to cover the front and top of the tire in the 2013 season, which smoothed airflow around the front of the car. We kept those 18x12s and 315s for the rest of that season and into early 2014.

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We ran the majority of 2014-15 seasons with flared rear fenders, then stepped up to 335/30/18 front and 345/35/18 rear A7s. We saw an average drop of 2-3 seconds per track in lap times going with the big tires. We ran at 3802 lbs for maximum p-to-w ratio bonus in TT3, and in some seasons we ran 8.8 lbs per whp with bonuses.

continued below
 

Fair

Go Big or Go Home
Supporting Vendor
248
387
Plano, TX
continued from above

P7A_1555-L.jpg

I'm still a believer in "run at the fat end" of the power-to-weight scale for any given p-to-w TT/ST class, running more weight to get the "Weight bonus", all to have more power than the rest of the field. On the S550 chassis, we have a bit less room out back and cannot seem to sneak in an 18x12" wheel, for now. The front is limited as well, but we have some fender options that might allow this 315m tire to be used on an 18x12". But we'd have to cut the rear fenders to fit that, and 335 or 345mm tires would require major mods/flares.

C6-F14-Jerry001-L.jpg

Corvette C6Z can swallow giant tires under stock fenders, see above. But you if you can cut the fenders and GO BIG with tires, you can reach parity. The 1.4g limit is about all you are really going to see from mechanical grip with any tire, no matter how wide you go. The wider tires just deal with heat better and give you a slight advantage putting power down (esp. the 345/35/18).

P9110989-L.jpg

And R7 vs A7 has a lot to do with driving style (how fast can you get up to speed?) and your race group's traffic tendencies (do you need to get it done on lap 1 or can you take your time and wait until lap 2, 3 or 4?). I'd at least do qualifying on A7s, to move further up the grid and then hold them off instead of trying to make hero passes.

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Forgestar came out with an 18x13" wheel in 2015, and we love this thing. It is what we should have been running with that 345/35/18 rear tire, but it just wasn't available from them at the time. The price is attractive and the weight makes sense for how wide it is.

uilt-by-mothers-autosport-dynamics-rtr_100407952_m.jpg

Yea, there weren't many S197 flares out when we went to go make them for my 2011 GT in ~2014. The stuff that is out there then was mostly for the Stance-in-my-pants crowd, and most of the show cars we saw with these flares had hilariously narrow tires, like 275mm on this RTR car above, shown at the 2012 SEMA show - even if it was voted the hottest car at the show. ;) I think RTR is good for the drift crowd but rarely do their products help the actual corner carver folks.

20141103_100809-L.jpg

We saw this APR widebody S197 at the 2014 SEMA show, but it didn't have much tire on it (significantly less than our 335 fronts parked next to it). It should hold a decent amount tire, but that was a whole "kit" that needs a nose, rear bumper, side skirts, and all of that. Pretty car showy looking...

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Everything we could find back in 2012 was "over the top" race car bodies or for looks only. This car from Germany was a bit much, you know? But since 2012....

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I'm hot-linking images now so these pics might not work (that didn't work for an hour and I have since replaced them with pics saved in my gallery). Today I googled "S197 mustang flares" and found a number of options from TruFiber and even Maier Racing.

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These TruFiber units look more than adequate - if these had been around when we were trying to stuff 335/345s under the fenders I would have bought them. These do not require front or rear bumper changes, goofy skirts, etc. $550 per axle, and at that price I would have jumped at them back when we did my car.

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Maier Racing's flares look good but are only made for the 2005-09 body - they don't cover the 2010-14 bodystyle yet.

Cheers,
 
@Fair great analysis as usual.
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
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Agree that a set of A7s might be faster than the Pirellis or Michelins at some tracks , but I think the only questionable part of your analysis is the one based on cost, since the bulk of folks I run with or know of using these tires, are buying used slicks used in the World Challenge Series or others. With IMSA going to Michelin ,there will be a lot more of these available, and at around $600 a set , they are cost effective for the HPDE driver - which are what many on this site are doing. If one is racing in NASA, the slicks become somewhat useless, as you mentioned , because of the point penalty that often moves a car up a complete class. So just a minor clarification , as I run on Hoosiers also, but for the weekend track rat, just having fun ( not racing or doing Time Trials ) , a used set of slicks are a good avenue in my estimation.

PS - and no, the Continental slicks are no better than before , cheap , but slower than any listed above. For the guy just doing HPDEs or casual weekend track events, they are better than most 200 Treadwear street tires.
 

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