Choosing which tire to pick for either a street or a strip car is easy. But if your auto sees a considerable amount of both, it needs a different set of tires. Picking the perfect set of wheels will set your vehicle’s appearance as well as make it perform best in all situations.
Fortunately, not all drag tires are necessarily designed for a single purpose nowadays. The best drag radial for the street not only makes your ride look good but also makes it usable for all types of driving. Besides, it also gives you an outstanding grip in the corners completing the whole package.
This article will guide you in choosing the best radial for a car that makes quarter-mile passes as often as it drives to the grocery store.
In a hurry? Just check out our top three picks.
BEST DRAG RADIAL FOR STREET
Even with an SFI rating, not all drag racing wheels are meant for street use. Only a dual-purpose radial will be able to handle the rigors of the road without cracking or breaking down. Let’s look at our top picks for radials that can handle all surfaces and drives.
1.Cooper Cobra Radial G/T
The Cobra Radial G/T from Cooper Tires is a popular choice when it comes to outfitting your strip car. For a combination of responsive handling and comfortable operation throughout the year, this all-season tire is a great pick.
Featuring a classic look combined with modern performance, it has a void ratio to maximize rubber-to-road contact for handling performance. The tire’s tread design and tire compound work together to increase the dry, wet, and winter weather road gripping ability promoting excellent all-weather traction.
Besides, in order to maintain the tire’s road contact through closely following the surface, it has two polyester casing plies. This prevents road vibrations and reduces the shock of driving significantly, thus guaranteeing a comfortable and quiet driving experience.
To resist any hydroplaning, the circumferential grooves and open shoulder slots efficiently evacuate water from the footprint. This ensures a secure driving experience throughout the year.
The tire has a notched rib that promotes longer tread life. Its shoulder slotting design and twin steel belts also aid to that end. As a result, the driving pressure is evenly distributed across the tread area, preventing any irregular wear formations.
Cobra Radial G/T also offers exceptional controllability with its tread design and internal structure, which enhances the steering responsiveness and driving stability. To ensure better control in all weather, the notched center rib and the shoulder tread blocks boost the steering response time and accuracy.
A unique feature of this radial is its optimized tread design with refined tread elements. They successfully decrease the road noise generated while the tires are in motion resulting in a quieter drive.
2.Mickey Thompson Street Radial Tire P275/60R15
Named after the American motor sporting legend, Mickey Thompson, the company has championed many firsts in the tire industry. Designing tires for the market since 1963, the company is known worldwide as a leader in high-performance tires for use on the track and street.
Their street radial tires are, no doubt, some of the most highly coveted wheels in the market. And the model P275/60R15 is the best drag radial for street driving. Designed for the excessive wear and tear resulting from racing on regular roads, this tire provides you with superior traction on uneven surfaces of the streets.
As you evaluate different tires for street racing, you must consider factors like the compounds from which they are made. And like most of the drag radials made today, this item is designed with the R2 compounds specifically for use on the streets.
To provide a stronger grip on the streets as well as on the tracks, this compound is typically a bit soft.
The tire weighs about 35 pounds with an aspect ratio of 60. It has a rim diameter around 15 inches with 6 inches tread depth making it one of the most well-designed radials on the market.
As Mickey Thompson is known for creating premium quality tires, its P275/60R15 is also no different. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to conquer trails or highways, this radial tire will ensure a performance unlike any other.
3.Nitto NT05R Drag Radial Tire 35R17
A lot of drag racing enthusiasts nowadays prefer multi-purpose drag radials over pure ones, because they can withstand a lot of abuse on the street while delivering serious grip at the track as well. Rather than opting for a pure drag that cools off in the garage all year-round, this is logically a better choice to make.
But you have to keep in mind that drag racing and street driving are completely different types of things. You need a versatile enough radial to tick both of these boxes.
Enter the DOT certified Nitto NT05R competition-grade radial tire designed for excellent hook-up under power. Any serious drag racing enthusiast will find it the best choice for enjoying the ability to safely drive their vehicle on the street as well as perform greatly on the track.
With a dimension of 25.7 x 25.7 x 12.4 inches and weighing 30.6 pounds, this tire’s specialized race compound will be able to provide even pressure distribution across the tread. It gives it an even wear as well.
Another noticeable feature of the radial is its large center rib, which provides a continuous contact patch with the ground. This, along with the tire compound, gives excellent dry traction on the street or the strip.
Nitto NT05R’s enhanced sidewall construction provides longitudinal launch traction. Additionally, its high-modulus bead filler and large shoulder blocks provide straight-line stability throughout the pass.
This is undoubtedly one of the best drag radial tires that lets your get off the line and down the track quickly and with consistency each and every time.
Although soft and sufficiently flexible, the NT05R Drag Radial delivers up to 15,000 miles of tread life in normal street driving. However, its tread will wear much quicker than tread compounds formulated for regular passenger cars.
4.Cooper Cobra Radial G/T All-Season P225/70R14 98T Tire
This model from Cooper Tire is almost the same as the previous Cooper Cobra tire when you first look at it. But with only a small size difference, this all-season radial weighs almost half of that of the previous one.
Weighing only 17 pounds, this Cooper Cobra tire has a section width of 225 millimeters with a 70-aspect ratio. With only an inch in rim diameter from the previously discussed model, its load index rating stands at 98. It has 790 revolutions per mile with a 50,000-mile warranty, and the speed rate goes up to 118 mph.
With all these specifications out of the way, this drag radial has been manufactured for passenger vehicles. Its all-season tire compound promotes excellent all-weather traction.
This tire compound is able to maintain flexibility even in a colder atmosphere. In order to resist hydroplaning, its refined elements and the circumferential grooves actively disperse water from the tire’s footprint. Besides, the tread design firmly grips the surface of the road all year-round.
In addition, this model also guarantees you a comfortable drive due to its internal structure as well as the tread’s optimized design. The refined tread elements are able to decrease the level of road noise heard in the car’s cabin by generating a sound frequency that negates the noise created on the road.
As for the internal structure, it has two polyester casing plies that maintain the road contact with the tire all the time. It prevents most of the vibrations on the track by allowing the model to closely follow the road surface. This comfort and quiet experience become essential when your family is with you in the car.
To prevent irregular tread wear, the tread pattern has a notched center rib and a shoulder slotting design. Both of these evenly distribute the vehicle’s pressure across the tread area by equally spreading the forces of acceleration, cornering, and braking. As a consequence, you get a longer-lasting tread life.
Radial G/T also offers exceptional controllability through its internal structure’s polyester cord plies that stabilize the tire by enabling constant road contact. This ensures a safer driving ability and better steering control in all weather.
5.Nitto NT420S All-Season Radial Tire
For the better part of a decade, owners of drag cars have called upon Nitto’s NT420S to give their play toys the traction they need. It provides superb ride comfort, wears characteristics, and wet weather performance — all at an affordable price.
The Nitto all-season radial tire is the best drag radial for street for your car and will suit all your needs very well. It offers a combination of superb traction and grip in the corners, along with a long-lasting tread life. Having “All-Season” attached to its name means it has also been developed to perform both on dry or wet road surfaces.
This tire has a good reputation for helping highly modified drag autos find traction on and off the track. It is possible because of the large outside shoulder blocks around the tread with silica enhanced compound. An artist specially designed the asymmetric tread design it has.
All of these work together to increase the amount of surface area in contact with the road that increases dry traction and creates added cornering performance.
As for its wet weather performance, the tire’s inner shoulder channels effectively disperse water away from the tread, reducing the risk of hydroplaning. Besides, its unique tread patterns give additional biting edges too.
Consequently, the 420S is able to perform at the top of the all-season market and adds more confidence behind the wheel in wet road conditions.
Moreover, the longer tread life is another area that many drivers prefer for their strip cars. The longevity of this Nitto radial tire comes from its utilization of an asymmetrical, non-directional tread pattern. Besides, the twin steel belts are reinforced with spirally wrapped nylon for added durability and strength too .Its amazing manufacturing makes it the best drag radial for daily driving also.
6.Toyo Tires EXTENSA HP II
This high-performance all-season tire from Toyo is the company’s best radial tire that is aimed at drivers looking to up the performance levels of their drag rides. The Extensa HP II drag radial has been engineered to increase all-around performance, including wet traction and braking.
Although the Extensa HP II is not the highest-performing sports tire, it comes at a very affordable price. And since it is also all-season, you can use it all-year-round, especially during winter or rainfall.
This high-performance radial is designed with a unidirectional tread pattern, which gives it strong all-season grip and traction, not to mention the awesome looks. Its multi-wave sipes resist hydro plating even under heavy rain and improve grip on snowy or wet roads.
After replacing your old tires, you’ll realize that Toyo makes tires that can really communicate with the driver. The car feels more responsive in the corners almost instantly.
With the stability EXTENSA HP II will provide, you’ll find it a lot easier to keep your toy in line. Besides, it will also be less prone to moving from one side to another even while bumping into a pothole.
The silica-enriched tread compound improves the braking performance giving you a lot of confidence to push forward. You can easily expect astonishingly 30,000-miles with this animal.
Toyo’s Extensa HP II might be the best cost-effective option for anyone who drives more on the road than on the track.
7.Mickey Thompson ET Street Rad Racing Radial
If you’re in the market for a new drag tire, you should definitely give this ET Street Rad Racing Radial from Mickey Thompson some consideration. This tire is suitable for both competition and occasional street use because of its superior traction.
The legendary race tire technology from Mickey Thompson and years of drag racing experience make it one of the most popular tires to hook up big-power streetcars. This rad racing radial will provide you the combination of excellent straight-line traction and a quiet street ride at the same time.
Its radial construction gives the best ride control to drive you home with sure handling and an excellent ride.
Besides, any drag racer will tell you that, contrary to popular belief, the first 200 feet is actually the key to achieving quicker elapsed times than the last. And, Mickey Thompson’s Rad Racing Radial has a special sidewall construction that gives you the quickest of launches on the track.
This drag radial is perfect for anyone looking for consistent performance in everyday driving or any drag racing hobbyist who frequently race on the weekends.
8.Nitto NT05R Drag Radial Tire 35R20
This model of Nitto NT05R all-purpose tire is slightly bigger than the previous model we’ve discussed with almost all the features in common.
The 35R20 specified model weighs 33.7 pounds and has a product dimension of 28.7 x 28.7 x 12.4 inches. It has the same section width and aspect ratio as the previous model, although the rim diameter is 3 inches more, and the maximum service speed is R rated, which is 106 mph.
This quintessential drag radial is designed for maximum traction in dry conditions. Engineered for increased traction at the starting line, the NT05R is a popular radial for all serious drag racing enthusiasts.
The enhanced traction at launch comes from the increased sidewall construction, which also delivers stability at the top end. Its high modulus bead filler and large shoulder blocks also increase the straight-line stability, which is essential for drag.
A large solid center rib will provide a continuous contact patch resulting in reliable, consistent control from the tire. With this radial tire, you can now launch off the line quickly and down the track with confidence.
The Nitto 35R20 can deliver up to 15,000 miles of tread life in normal street driving. So, if you’re looking for the best way to take advantage of your drag car, this radial is the ultimate way to put all of that power to the pavement.
9.Mickey Thompson ET Street S/S Racing Radial Tire
If you are looking for an evolution of the ET Street, then this Mickey Thompson S/S drag radial is the one to go for. Designed to provide weekend racers a street-friendly tire, this radial doesn’t even compromise a single grip at the track.
Some of the tire’s diameter has been relocated from previous versions to provide stronger traction and, at the same time to reduce the risk of HYDROPLANING. Thus, this radial provides you the best on-road compliance and on-track performance ever.
The S/S has an aggressive formation that allows perfect balance with superior traction as well as a smooth ride home. With a great build quality that delivers a high standard of performance, you can get a lot done for a relatively low price.
Mickey Thompson’s latest high tech radial construction techniques coupled with years of drag racing experience will get your car down the track in record time with sure handling.
The overall softer contact with the track surface results from the tire’s tubeless construction and the R2 compound. Besides, its leak-free seal makes it much safer in case of punctures and blowouts. As such, the S/S tire won’t instantly deflate.
Additionally, the air inside the tire is in direct contact with the rim because of the absence of any tube in the tire, making the setup aid in heat dissipation.
The drag is also legally DOT approved for street use in addition to providing excellent performance on the strip. Also, its sturdy, as well as flexible sidewalls, are able to lessen the distortion without compromising reaction time at all.
However, this ET Street S/S doesn’t perform brilliantly in the rain. But still, the tire is versatile enough to shift from street to track without missing a beat. So, you can have your cake and eat it too when it comes to both street use and track performance.
10.Nitto NT555R All-Season Radial Tire
When you want a radial tire that will combine extended longevity, exceptional street manners, and enough rear-end squat to plant you hard into the seat, then look for Nitto’s NT555R all-season radial.
Its unique design can easily handle your daily driving duties at the same time has the longest life span than most other drag radials in the market. When you’re drag racing, it will not only beat your competitors up for over 15,000 miles but will also allow you to drop 60-foot times with a simple tire pressure change.
Purposefully made for weekend drag drivers, this Nitto drag radial features a tread pattern designed for maximum traction on the road. This radial also has a tight grip on dry surfaces and on warmer temperatures, making it an ideal choice for use during the summer months and in warmer climates.
DOT approved and legal to drive on public roads; this all-season drag radial was designed to make your drag car highly treatable without compromising grip at the track. If you are a weekend drag racer, you’ll be able to drive your car to and from a race without a problem.
Nitto’s NT555R all-season tire has reinforced belt structure with a semi-radial construction, which is suitable for speeds of up to 149mph. Besides, this belt structure also protects your tire from puncture while driving.
Things to Consider Before Buying the best Drag Radial
Picking the top radials for this article wasn’t that easy, as all of them needed to fulfill some necessary requirements based on real-life applications. Street racing tires need to sync up with the intentions of the driver and meet the criteria for their application. Some of those criteria are explained below.
If you want to use your drag car on the streets, its tires need to get passed through the strict Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. The best drag radial for street should provide you with excellent traction.
The DOT maintains strict guidelines for any radial to be used on public roads. In this way, they only approve the strong and durable drag radials.
Good weight makes the wheel that is used on the street stronger. Drag racing wheels are usually 10 percent lighter than conventional street tires. They don’t even have to go through the DOT J2530 testing either.
The load rating on the wheel needs to be much greater when the car is driven against a curb or through a pothole. Drag only wheels are only passed through SFI standards that have no cornering requirements in the testing. But the standards for a DOT test is much tougher than that.
Reading the Sidewall
Just because a tire is rated with DOT, it is still not a good idea to go to the grocery store while wearing them. You need a drag radial with a sturdy sidewall for cornering and riding on the streets. Because a flexible sidewall only provides traction in a straight line, which doesn’t work in a corner-turning situation.
If you want the tire to perform well on the track at the same time, be safe on the highway, make sure to have the correct air pressure. In case the pressure isn’t right, it might damage the radial and reduce its lifespan significantly.
Your drag radial shouldn’t have less than 11 psi of pressure in it. Set its pressure between 12 and 16 psi for smaller than P275-50R15 tire sizes. And for larger ones, set it between 11 and 14 psi.
Drag radials are usually designed with drag racing in mind. So, it is constructed with a special soft compound, which is better for a light-weight vehicle. A softer compound can also compromise the price of the tread life if you enjoy an occasional stoplight-to-stoplight run.
On the other hand, street radials need to be harder; otherwise, it can cause premature wear. So, you’d want a radial that has a compound between both extremes to be able to race on the track as well as drive on the streets.
How Long Do Drag Radials Last?
When it comes to the lifespan of a drag radial, it varies depending on the car and the amount of burnout it gets on average. Experts say it’s time to change the tires when you see tread wear or carcass breakdown. But the most important sign is the disappearing of the tread grooves.
Besides, drag radials are usually intended to be used on dry tracks, although modern radials hook up with highways too. The compound used on them is softer than an ultra-performance street tire. So, its grip reduces the lifespan. But on an average, a drag radial will last at least for 3,000 to 5,000 miles when used for dual-purpose.
In the end, it all depends on how you’re going to run the wheels. Also, if you keep them stored for the majority of the time, it will certainly add to their life.
The rule of thumb is to inspect your drag radials after 30 passes. However, it is a good idea to inspect it more frequently if the car is very quick.
On the positive side, drag radials will certainly outperform any street tire even without a burnout. Just keeping it safe from the damp or wet pavement will make you able to utilize its potential lifespan to the fullest.
Some become confused between radial and bias ply tire.Well that needs another dive to discuss deeply.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I pick the right sized tire for my car?
When you buy a car, its tire size is already included in the owner’s manual. If you’ve lost it, you can easily check the sidewall of your car’s existing tires for their sizes.
- What does the speed rating of the tire mean?
The speed rating shows the maximum speed that the tire can handle safely. This rating is indicated through the letters from M to Z. If a tire has a higher rating, it means it can handle better at lower speeds.
- Can tubeless and tube tires be used at the same time?
The performance of a tube tire is a bit different from that of a tubeless tire. So, if you want to get the best performance out of your car, it is better to use the same type of tires on all the wheels. This way, you can handle the vehicle better.
- When do I need to buy a new tire?
Automakers suggest we should change tires at least once every six years. But if you notice any wear or tear on your tire, it is better to change them without much delay. There are some other factors you might consider like vibrations while driving, noteworthy bulge or blister on the tire, or cracks on sidewalls, etc.
- How to store my drag radials?
The best place to store any tire is a cool dark place with a temperature between 40 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It is better to place them in a black plastic bag away from direct sunlight.
Don’t forget to deflate the air from the tires and never let them freeze. Also, be careful not to apply any chemical treatment on the tire. The tires must also not come in contact with oil, grease, or any other solvent that might deteriorate the rubber.
The right set of drag radials will not only perform better on the track and on the streets, but they will also make your ride look awesome. That being said, there is no single best drag radial for street that works perfectly for everybody. So, you should purchase one that will fit your own needs.