What Is Considered Small Tire In Drag Racing

**What is considered a small tire in drag racing?**

In the sport of drag racing, the size of the tire plays a crucial role in determining the performance and category in which a vehicle competes. While there are various sizes of tires used in different classes of drag racing, a small tire is typically considered to be one with a limited width and diameter. These tires are commonly used in street-legal racing, as well as certain classes of professional and amateur drag racing.

The Importance of Tire Size in Drag Racing

Tire size is a critical aspect of drag racing because it directly affects how a vehicle performs on the track. The size of the tire determines the traction and grip the vehicle can generate, which in turn influences how effectively it can transfer power to the ground. The right tire size is crucial for achieving maximum acceleration and launch control, both essential for success in drag racing.

Small Tire Classes

In drag racing, classes are categorized based on various factors, including power, weight, and tire size. Small tire classes are designed for vehicles equipped with narrower and smaller diameter tires. These classes often feature street-legal cars that use tires similar in size to those found on everyday road cars. The smaller tire size presents a challenge as it requires racers to optimize traction and power delivery to achieve quick acceleration.

Popular Small Tire Sizes

While there is no specific tire size universally considered “small” in drag racing, there are popular tire sizes that are commonly used in small tire classes. These sizes include:

1. 275/60-15: This tire size is a popular choice in street-legal drag racing classes. It has a width of 275 millimeters and a sidewall height that is 60% of the width. The tire is mounted on a 15-inch wheel.

2. 275/40-17: Another commonly used tire size in small tire classes, this size has a width of 275 millimeters and a 40% sidewall height. It is typically mounted on a 17-inch wheel and provides excellent traction for quick launches.

The Advantages and Challenges of Small Tires

While small tire drag racing has its own set of advantages, it also presents unique challenges for racers. Here’s a closer look at both:


1. Cost-Effective: Small tire drag racing is often more accessible and affordable than larger tire classes. The tires used in these classes are usually less expensive, allowing more enthusiasts to participate.

2. Street Relevance: Small tire racing closely simulates the conditions of street racing, making it more relatable to everyday car enthusiasts. It allows street-legal cars to compete against each other, showcasing their modifications and performance upgrades.

3. Skill Enhancement: Racing with smaller tires requires a higher level of skill and finesse to launch effectively. It offers racers an opportunity to improve their driving techniques and harness the available traction to achieve quick ET (elapsed time) on the track.


1. Traction Issues: Due to the smaller contact patch, small tires struggle to generate sufficient grip on the track surface. This can lead to traction issues, causing wheel spin and slower acceleration.

2. Launch Control: Getting a small tire car off the line smoothly requires precise throttle control and weight transfer. The challenge lies in finding the right balance that allows for maximum traction without overwhelming the tires and inducing wheel spin.

3. Limited Power Handling: Smaller tires have a finite limit when it comes to handling power. High horsepower applications may struggle to transfer power effectively to the ground, resulting in excessive wheel spin and compromised performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are small tire drag racing classes only for street-legal cars?

A: No, while many small tire classes are designed for street-legal cars, there are also small tire classes for purpose-built race cars. These classes typically have specific rules regarding tire size and other vehicle specifications.

Q: Can smaller tires outperform larger ones in drag racing?

A: It depends on the specific class and the overall setup of the vehicle. In some cases, smaller tires can offer advantages in weight reduction and improved weight transfer. However, larger tires generally provide more overall traction and stability.

Q: Are there specific rules regarding small tire sizes in drag racing?

A: Yes, each class of drag racing may have its own rules and regulations regarding tire sizes. It is important for racers to familiarize themselves with the rules of their respective classes to ensure compliance.

Final Thoughts

Small tire drag racing brings the excitement of high-performance racing to a broader range of enthusiasts. It allows street-legal cars to compete against each other while providing an intense playing field for purpose-built race cars. While small tires present their own set of challenges, they also offer advantages in terms of accessibility and skill enhancement. Whether it’s a street-legal car or a dedicated race machine, small tire drag racing allows enthusiasts to experience the thrill of drag racing in a more relatable and budget-friendly environment. So, if you’re looking to test your skills on the track and showcase your vehicle’s performance, consider giving small tire drag racing a try!

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