Race Tires: Are You Ready to Spend Some Money?

If you haven’t already done this, you should first read the Moving On page in the Driving Techniques section. Assuming you have or you’ll pretend that you have, we finally get to discuss modifications to your racecar! One of the first things you need to do is determine if your racecar has the potential to win in the club(s) you’ve chosen to race with as the car is currently classified. The key word here is potential to win. As previously mentioned, to be very successful, it takes a complete package consisting of a very good driver and a well-prepared car. Clubs have no guarantees that every car classified will be competitive. You will also learn that some clubs are better than others in classifying cars to ensure it has the potential of being competitive.

When it comes down to it, you choose the car you race. Even if your car is classed well, it still might be a better value to buy someone else’s car, depending on what performance modifications have already been done to it. After reading this resource, calculate how much it would cost you to develop the car. Then give thought to how much it would cost you to buy a well developed car. Determine the minimum amount you would accept for your racecar if you were to sell it – be realistic, and remember just how much Racecarious Depreciatous occurs (from The Racecar section). The last piece in this equation is to do the math. Write all of this information down, with specific allowances for each go-fast part or other goodie. If the car has good potential in the class, and if the math proves that you should develop your car, keep to the budget you just created, and move forward with developing the car. You also need to consider the amount of time and effort it will take to develop your car. As with the question “to buy or to build,” there are similar pros and cons of moving forward with the development of your car.

There will always be a faster racecar no matter how much money and effort you put into yours.

There are some components that will generally yield more gains than others, regardless of the vehicle you are racing, such as better tires and a race built engine. There are also many items which will affect one type of car differently than another. For this reason, you will need to do some research on which modifications and parts will benefit your vehicle the most. Even with one particular modification, there are often several brands and variations of the part to choose from. Especially with the costs associated in developing the car, it is important that you take the time to research your options. The list below is categorized into three different, generalized priority levels – high, medium, and low. Again, this applies in general and may be different for the type of vehicle you race.

Race Tires – A Closer Look: High
Having the right tires is critical when you are trying to whittle down your lap times and pursue race wins. Unfortunately this also means that you should expect your race tire budget to increase. After I transitioned into this “Moving On” phase, my tire budget doubled and quite possibly more. In a competitive class, the reality is having optimal tires is necessary to winning races. Fortunately tire technology continues to improve and manufactures recognize the importance of not only having a fast tire, but one where it’s performance doesn’t drop off significantly after just a couple of heat cycles. That said, each race tire has a sweet spot where it’s performance is at optimum then afterwards decreases in performance. One of the measures is how many heat cycles a tire has undergone. The simple explanation of heat cycles is that each session you go out on the track then come back in represents a heat cycle. It does not matter whether the session was 15 minutes or 40 minutes – they both equate to one heat cycle. Each heat cycle a tire is put through changes the tire to a degree and as it undergoes more heat cycles, the performance decreases. To give you a general idea, in order for me to run at the front of the pack and put myself in a position to win races, I do not use tires in the front of my car (it’s a FWD Honda) with more than 5 heat cycles which consist of approximately 35 minute sessions. Once they reach this many heat cycles, I put them on the rear for a few additional cycles. After that, they become practice tires. It needs to be emphasized that the tires typically have plenty of life on them after these cycles, how many cycles you can get out of a set at near peak performance depends on many factors, and I race in a competitive class / region. Tire technology is ever changing – do your research on which tire is right for you and take some time to learn more about this subject.

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