Mickey Thompson Racing Slicks What You Need To Know

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Mickey Thompson lived fast and died young, but Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels carries on its founder’s tradition of winning races and setting records. If you’re considering slapping on some new drag tires, look no further than some Mickey Thompsons.

A Slick History In Drag Racing

Mickey Thompson has become a household name among speed freaks, not only because Mickey Thompson Tires continue to produce, but also because of the history of the man himself, who not only pioneered tires and racecars, but also set numerous speed records.

Back in 1958, Thompson set his first record at the Bonneville Nationals with a dual-engine Chrystler dragster, clocking in at 294 mph. He then set a record for a quad-engine car at 196 mph, all before 1960. In 1960, Thompson shattered eight of 10 international speed records—in one day.

When he wasn’t driving, Thompson worked on vehicles also were winning races and breaking records, such as in 1962 at the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Nationals when Don Garlits piloted Thompson’s aluminum Dragmaster car to 171.75 mph and victory in the Eliminator final. For more of Thompson’s impressive resume, visit NHRA.net.

The next year Thompson, along with help from Gene McMannis, Thompson launched Mickey Thompson Performance Tire & Wheels.

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By the end of his career, cut short by the tragic murder of Thompson and his wife Trudy in 1988, he held 468 speed records.

Drag racing itself got its start following World War II. Many say it began in the Mojave Desert, while the NHRA argues that it might have begun with the birth of Wally Parks, who went on to help start the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), which held its first “Speed Week” on the same salt flats that Thompson would reach nearly 300 mph on in Bonneville. Parks went on to actually form the NHRA in 1951, with its first races taking place two years later. The NHRA reports that it now has more than 80,000 members, 140 tracks and more than 35,000 licensed competitors.

Introduction Of Cheater Slicks

Introduced in the mid-50s by Marvin & Harry Tires, racing slicks are wide, smooth tires that allow for more traction than normal street tires. These tires are not too safe for the street because they do not have enough tread to be deemed safe in wet weather. When slicks became outlawed, Cheater Slicks were created because of a loophole where all DOT (Department of Transportation) approved tires needed tread, so companies put two small grooves in the slicks to make them legal. Sneaky.

Cheater slicks are tires that are almost completely smooth, void of any large grooves, but have just enough tread to be considered legal. Because of how smooth the tires are, they are dangerous on a streetcar, but popular on the drag strip.

Although not cheaters, Mickey Thompson’s ET series tires are great slicks and DOT approved and known to be the fastest on the market. Thompson ETs are compounded for maximum traction, are tube types and require little to no burnout.

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What You Need To Know Before You Buy

Under no circumstances are drag slicks street legal, even if you cut grooves into them. No matter which Mickey Thompson series tire you decide to try, make sure you are using them in a safe, controlled environment, not on the street. It’s also important to consider rim size when looking into purchasing Mickey Thompsons. The company’s website recommends tread width plus or minus one inch. Tubes also should be used with Mickey Thompsons, as a tube will help to reduce the risk of damage caused by heat as pressure drops in tubeless tires.

If you’re interested in stepping up your drag racing and still have questions about drag slicks, call the racers 4WheelOnline at 823-769-2451. The guys are more than happy to help with your tire questions.

By Sean Bowes
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