Before contemplating serious, involved performance modifications to any car, such as stiffening the suspension or bolstering engine output with complicated equipment, the performance enthusiast should first take a look at all available tire options.
After all, tires serve as the car’s only direct interface with the road; the more connected with the pavement a car’s tires, the more grip can be had in both a straight line, and around corners.
In the latest episode of Motor Trend‘s “The Racing Line,” resident racing driver Randy Pobst teams up with BFGoodrich Pro Driver Kyle Tucker to demonstrate the difference between a street tire and a track tire using a pair of Ford Mustang GT convertibles. The essential difference between the two tires, as Pobst says, is that while a street tire is built to be a “Swiss Army Knife” of sorts, able to handle any situation with moderate success, the track tire allows the Ford Mustang GT to excel in just one circumstance: performance track driving.
Track tires allow Pobst and Tucker to use more of the Ford Mustang’s total performance capability on a dry race track for two primary reasons: compound, and contact patch. Track tires utilize rubber compounds which perform best at relatively high operating temperatures, sacrificing much of their low-temperature grip in the process. They also contain less intricate tread patterns than street tires, which maximizes the total contact patch surface area in ideal conditions, but limits their ability to deal with water.
If you’re planning on using your Ford Mustang as a daily driver and nothing more, then the versatility surrendered by track tires might well not be worth it. If your Ford Mustang is a dedicated track/autocross machine, on the other hand, switching to a good set of track tires ought to be the first modification you consider.
Watch the video above for the full scoop.