Regardless of the motorsport discipline you may be competing in, experienced racers will agree that tires are one of the most effective upgrades for a vehicle in terms of cost-versus-performance benefit. Think about it – they’re the only part of the vehicle that makes contact with the ground – or should, with any luck.
But figuring out what you need for a particular application isn’t always an easy task. Each tire’s design, compound, wear rating, application, and other factors often require concessions in some aspects of its performance in order to provide advantages in others. Our two test subjects here are Project True SStreet, a hardcore street/strip build that should be making eight- to nine-second passes by the time we’re done with it, and a daily driven sixth generation Camaro SS with a handful of bolt-ons, aftermarket exhaust, and a ProCharger.
Using a pair of drag-tuned Camaros as our test subjects (our fifth-gen drag build, Project True SStreet, along with a sixth generation SS), we’re taking a look at the differences between three lines of Mickey Thompson tires to help get a better sense of what each is best suited for.
ET Street S/S
If you’re looking to go a step beyond the OEM offering and utilize a tire that’s made for the street, but designed to perform at the track, the ET Street S/S might be right up your alley. Serving as the successor to the ET Street Radial, the S/S is a DOT approved radial that uses the proven R2 compound, the same compound used on the quickest drag radial tires available. Compared to the ET Street Radial it replaced, the S/S offers significantly improved hydroplaning resistance while still providing plenty of tread contact for excellent traction on dry surfaces.
These tires are designed to be something of an all-in-one solution for casual racers who want to avoid the hassle of swapping out tires at the track, and they’re designed to deliver excellent drag strip traction with virtually no burnout required.
“The compound used on the ET Street S/S is a close derivative of the R1 compound used on our Pro Drag Radials, and the construction is very similar to our old ET Street Radial,” says Jason Moulton, Product Development Manager for Mickey Thompson. “The main idea behind the ET Street S/S was to design a great looking street tire that could offer solid performance at the drag strip on the weekend.”
Since the ET Street S/S was designed as a street tire that could take on the strip, one of the key advantages is that the S/S is available in sizes that will fit the OEM wheels of most late model performance vehicles, along with popular wheel sizes for vintage musclecars as well. That in turn minimizes the expense required to upgrade your ride’s rubber for the track since you won’t be required to switch over to aftermarket wheels that will fit your drag radials.
ET Street R
If the ET Street S/S is a street tire you can take to the track, then perhaps the easiest way to understand the role of the ET Street R tire is to think of it as a track tire that you can still drive on the street. “We wanted a bonafide race tire you could still drive on the street under dry conditions,” says Moulton.
The ET Street R was bred from the popular ET Street Radial Pro, and like the S/S, the ET Street R is an R2 compound. But one look at the tread pattern differences between the two makes it clear that the R is truly intended for track use as a top priority.
“The construction is the big difference between the S/S and the R,” Moulton adds. “The ET Street R and ET Street Radial Pro share the same construction, one which allows the tire to absorb more horsepower on the hit. This provides better starting line traction, especially when conditions are less than ideal. It also gives the higher horsepower cars the ability to get off the starting line.”
The ET Street R and ET Street Radial Pro share the same construction, one which allows the tire to absorb more horsepower on the hit. -Jason Moulton, Mickey Thompson Tires
They’re also available in both radial and bias-ply construction. The bias-ply version is aimed at high horsepower Pro Street-level cars – it is essentially the 3191W tire used by Pro Modified racers but reconfigured to meet DOT standards; this makes it a great option for Drag Week-style events. The ET Street R is available in 13 sizes – eight for the radial version and five for the bias-ply.
Pro Bracket Radial
If you’ve got a purpose-built drag car that you have no intentions of driving on the street, the Pro Bracket Radial could be the right choice for you. “The main difference between the ET Street R and the Pro Bracket Radial is that one is DOT approved with a minimum tread pattern and the other is not,” Moulton explains.
“The Pro Bracket Radial also uses our X5 compound which helps improve consistency, something a bracket racer always needs,” says Moulton. “This tire is intended for your weekend warrior bracket racers, who go out there and put 200 passes a year on their cars.”
When radial tires were first introduced in drag racing they often proved to be unforgiving at the starting line. But the Pro Bracket Radial is designed to run well using more air pressure, which in turn also provides more stability and response at the top end of the track.
“The Pro Bracket Radial is designed for automatic sportsman bracket racers looking for consistency, improved performance, and better “feel” going down the racetrack,” Moulton adds. “These tires can also work when track conditions are a little tricky. They are great for the first time radial user and the most forgiving radials on the market. If you are racing ‘heads’ classes that do not require a DOT, the Pro Bracket Radial is right pick.”
Recapping Tire Styles & Applications
We already know that the right tire and wheel combination will help you at the track. This can provide better 60-foot times, which can lead to better ETs and a bigger top end. But one of the deficits of modern cars these days is the big wheel/tire combo, and low profile tires.
There’s a reason successful drag racers don’t use low profile tires, and though Mickey Thompson has drag radials to fit many of today’s bigger wheels, it’s the tried and true classic profile that benefits the serious contender.
With the help of a Carlyle Racing 15-inch conversion kit, the sixth gen Camaro was modified to accept a smaller wheel to take advantage of the better profile of a 15-inch drag radial. With some additional bolt-ons including a CAI, MSD Atomic Intake, and a long tube header and exhaust kit, the Camaro was ready to hit the track again, and put down and 11.67 second run with a 1.69 second 60-foot time, reeling in the traps at 118.35 mph.
If you’re looking to bolster your drag strip performance with your lightly modded daily driver, the ET Street S/S is likely the tire for you, and is one that doesn’t have to come off the car when you get back home.
Want to maximize performance while staying DOT compliant? The ET Street R, in both radial and bias construction, will provide you with serious drag strip performance that you can still drive to and from the track. But the ET Street R has minimal tread voids, so if you’ve got some wet weather you might want to swap out to street tires to be safe.
But if you’re looking for more consistent times and the improved stability at the top end of the track on your purpose-built drag racer then the Pro Bracket Radial is a great choice for those looking to transition to a radial tire. Keep in mind, though, the Pro Bracket Radial is the only non-DOT compliant tire in this review.
Visit the Mickey Thompson Tires website and check out the sizes and choices for both street and track drag radials and bias ply tires. Mickey Thompson has stepped up its game to provide you more choices for the drag strip, for better launches – and better ETs.