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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Evolution of the Species
Drag racers, like any organism, will adapt to their environment. I was reading the guest column on dragracingonline by Steve Earwood, operator of Rockingham Dragway, (http://dragracingonline.com/columns/guest/xiii_10-1.html) about the rapidly escalating price of traction compound. He points out that the cost of the compound has doubled in the last couple of years, and as a track operator, he would be forced to either lighten up on the track prep, or charge more for race entries.
This got me to thinking about the way things used to be. Now it seems to me there is a lot of criticism directed toward racers who are using 14” wide tires on 10 and even 11 second cars. “if you can’t make it work on a 10 inch wide tire, you lack talent,” seems to be the attitude.
Back in the late 70s and early eighties, most racers, myself included, going eleven seconds or better were running “steamroller” tires. Some of ‘em hung out of the fenders, while some of us had ‘em tucked neatly inside the fenders. Ours were 14.5X32 on a mid ten second car, and the same when it went as fast as mid nines. This probably had more to do with the track prep of the day than a racers lack of talent. I can remember the traction compound in use at our local track was 7-Up syrup. And even then, probably only for the first couple hundred feet at most. The mantra then was “There’s no such thing as too big a tire on a bracket car.” (Keep in mind that 9.90 index racing was in it’s infancy at that time, and it was the closest the sportsman racer could come to heads up racing).
So, I have to ask. Would the racers currently espousing the superiority of their small tires still be of that opinion when the track operator is forced to cut costs by not doing as much prep as is common these days?
Would these same racers fall victim to a racer with steamroller tires because the small tire guy couldn’t hook up?
Are the Drag Radial guys going to even be able to get down the track?
What’s going to happen when track operators cut back on the stick-um?
Will we see an evolution back to big tires?

Thoughts?
 

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Mike, good comment and good observation.

During this off-season I am upgrading my Firebird from a 29.5 x 11 tire to a 32 x 14 tire for the very reasons you mentioned.

When track and conditions are good my Firebird flies and runs the number consistently. But, then conditions deteriorate, it will at times slip just enough to loose a round. In my case, it is not about car setup because the Firebird is well prepared. However, good track conditions are required. The smaller the tire, the more critical this is.

I expect more of us will be changing to larger tires.
 

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The other part of this evolution is the increased power we have available to us vs what we had 20 years ago- IF track puts the money into prep - -then increased entry may be justified - -but I suspect it will just go in there pocket and we will keep hearing how us dumb ass racers cannt set up a car.
No one is giving the racer a break when we
 

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REBUILDING
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History shows that the evolution will always be, back to large tires, after the traction limits of small tires are reached. Take the history of SuperStock to Pro Stock as a example. It is the evolution of racing to maintain all the advantage, that you can, legally. Big tire cars rule Bracket racing and are considered the ultimate Bracket car. Slower no box calsses that allow Full tube chassis cars are also seeing a influx currently of chassis cars to run a slower E.T. when allowed. It is cheaper to go fast AND hook up, with a light car that never spins and it WILL bring home the cash!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Interesting responses. A question to Ed and bowtize, and please keep in mind its for discussion and not to be critical. Both of you stated that the appearance is important. I agree to a point. I've always liked a certain look. But if it really came down to it, if your primary track stopped doing any meaningful prep, and you were really , REALLY at the limit of your tires, would you race within those limitations, even if it cost you the win?
 

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Just let everyone supply their own "pimp juice" and all of them will still be on the bumper.
 

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^^ like we used to.... good question Mike. being racers the obvious answer is that bigger tires will be used as noone really likes losing
 

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Interesting responses. A question to Ed and bowtize, and please keep in mind its for discussion and not to be critical. Both of you stated that the appearance is important. I agree to a point. I've always liked a certain look. But if it really came down to it, if your primary track stopped doing any meaningful prep, and you were really , REALLY at the limit of your tires, would you race within those limitations, even if it cost you the win?
i would make it work only 1.43 60s not that though for sum people and if it cost me the win at least id look good doing it:cool:
 

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I personally prefer the bigtire look. Makes me "look" like I have a race car, not a street car that you see everyday. I like how kids says and people who dont race or know much about it also say "Wow, you really have a race car" or "Why dont your back tires have tread?"
 

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You will see alot more tires in the air for a lot longer down track to keep the weight on them. Hell on loose tracks you already see chassis cars hangin them up in the air higher becuase that is what it takes to keep it planted .
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I will offer up my own recent experiences here. I used to run a big block Dodge Challenger with 14" wide tires. As I said in the original post, track prep was done with 7Up syrup. No, that is not an exaggeration. The track is surrounded by almond and orange orchards, and during one springtime event during pollination season for almonds, the track was literally covered in bees for the first 100 feet or so, until a few cars ran down. It was hilarious to watch the first pair cut a swath through those bees!
There were no 60 foot timers then, so I don't have any data to compare the 11.5" tire we ran before the big ones. In fact they were hand written time slips.
Nowadays it's a rear engine air cooled VW. Up until a couple years ago, I ran it with 6" wide rear tires. That was the biggest I could fit under the fenders.
Most of the time, and when track prep was good, I had no problems hooking, most time yanking the front wheels a couple feet in the air and carrying it all the way through first gear. However, in Central California, it gets really hot in the summer, and I have seen track temps approaching 150°. On these days the track was gooey, and traction was sketchy. We often lost a round due to tire spin.
A couple years ago, I did a minor "back half" on the car. Narrowing the rear track width, mini tubs and 8.5" wide tires. It came out really nice and has a cool look. Yeah I know the tires aren't that big, but on a street legal VW, they are huge!
Although the car is not any faster, it is more consistent and now hooks up consistently even on super hot days.
I'd do know that on poor prep'd track, my short times are only a couple hundredths off.
I really do like the look of a car with tires that aren't giant, for example an early Camaro with 11.5 X 29s or a Dart or Fairlane with that size. But I also like the look of a well done big tire car.
I think if I were going to build a car for the future, I'd build it for both big and small tires, trying to achieve a balance with the appearance and function.
But personally, I like to turn the win light on, so I would always want to adapt to that end.
 

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BTCTTFMF'S...LOL! I took a 30x9.0x15" tire off my car and put a 14.5x32x15" on it for this reason! Best thing I ever did as far as traction. Car hooks in a shower...Bracket car..
 

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Interesting responses. A question to Ed and bowtize, and please keep in mind its for discussion and not to be critical. Both of you stated that the appearance is important. I agree to a point. I've always liked a certain look. But if it really came down to it, if your primary track stopped doing any meaningful prep, and you were really , REALLY at the limit of your tires, would you race within those limitations, even if it cost you the win?

I understand why people do it.

I'd find a way to make it work. Rather play with springs and shocks than simply go hey screw it just put more tire under it. I see no point in jamming a huge tire under a car. It's not really all looks to me but just working with what I have to get it to hook. I played with traction issues all season with sixties all over the place. Simple swap to adjustable front struts and all gone. I've messed with 27x11.5 and went back to a 26x10 as it simply hooked better.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I like your attitude Ed. Working with what you have to make it work. Can't argue with the results either. A 1.57 short time for a 12 flat ride is getting it done on the starting line!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I too worked with mine for a long time to get it to hook AND react. Everything I did was about getting the RT down.

Admittedly, the rear engine combo and overall lite weight is an advantage, but after the swap to the "big" 8.5 tires, I can go red on certain days on a pro tree. Unfortunately, that's been my achilles heel all this season... '004 red, .006 red, .002 red TWICE IN A ROW DAMMIT!

But those were at events that featured DR and 10.5 cars, so the track prep was really really good. Also, my "tuning window" for slowing the RTs down is almost non existent with the big tires. So, I still have to figure out a way out that situation for events that will have good prep regardless of how high the VHT stickum gets.

Maybe two different sets of tires?
 

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I run the 34 x17.5 x 16 simply cause I get them cheap from the pro mod guys. I bracket/index race so why use a small tire when you can get the big ones and not worry so much about traction issues.
 
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