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BFG Drag Radial - Street Tire Shootout

We Track-Test BFG's New Drag Radial Against Traditional Radial Tires to Determine Its Real Worth

Photography by John Kiewicz

All too often, car crafters fall into a perplexing situation. In the quest to build the ultimate street machine, ample time and money is spent building a mega-powerful V-8 engine. Then the vehicle is upgraded with a hi-po transmission and a set of street/strip rearend gears. However, the first time the throttle is mashed, the rear tires scream in pain as they violently turn to plumes of smoke. Sure, a burnout looks cool, but it results in a slowly accelerating vehicle.

At the dragstrip, many car crafters bolt on a set of sticky rear slicks to generate traction. However, doing this is an ordeal because you have to haul the slicks, a jack, and tools to the track. Then, after switching tires, you're covered in tire scuzz. When you're finished racing, you then have to switch the tires back again. Sure, there are some Department of Transportation (DOT)-legal cheater slicks available, but in reality they are full wrinkle-wall slicks with minute tread. This type of tire does generate good traction, but it delivers terrible handling and wet-weather characteristics during daily street driving. What is really needed is a bona fide radial tire that incorporates the super-sticky rubber used on drag slicks.

BFGoodrich (BFG) now offers its new Drag Radial tires that hook up great at the dragstrip and operate quite well during street driving. The tires are fully DOT-legal and are available in a variety of sizes to fit different wheel diameters, including 15-, 16-, and even 17-inch rims. Simply mount a set of BFG Drag Radial tires on the rear of your street machine, and you're ready for action.

As enticing as the BFG Drag Radial tires sounded, however, we were a bit skeptical. A street radial tire that hooks nearly as well as a full slick...can this be true? Well, we put the BFG Drag Radials to the test using CC's illustrious Project Cheap Street Chevelle. The '70 Chevelle is a fairly typical street machine incorporating a potent 355ci small-block engine, a street/strip auto trans paired with a 3,000-rpm torque converter, and 3.73:1 rear gears. Rolling stock consisted of a set of swap-meet-purchased 15x7-inch steel GM rally wheels shod with P225/60R15 radial tires in decent shape. During normal cruising, the tires were adequate, but under hard acceleration from a launch, they spun effortlessly.

To put the new BFGoodrich Drag Radial tires to a real-world traction test, we dragstrip-tested the Chevelle at the Pomona Fairplex--home of the NHRA Chief Auto Parts Winternationals and Winston Finals. The Chevelle was first tested with the rally wheel/tire combo to determine the car's launching prowess. Then we bolted on a pair of new BFGoodrich Radial T/A P275/50R15 tires mounted on Center Line Convo Pro 15x8.5-inch wheels and retested the Chevelle. Finally, the Chevelle was fitted with a new pair of BFG Drag Radial P275/50R15 tires mounted on another set of Center Line Convo Pro wheels and dragstrip tested yet again. Los Angeles-based Flip's Tire Center mounted and balanced all the tires and wheels.

For all dragstrip testing, the tire pressures were set at the factory-recommended psi settings, the engine was warmed up to the same coolant temperature, and the e.t.'s were corrected down to sea level to equalize for differing air temperature, altitude, and humidity. See the performance chart for specific dragstrip e.t. differences.

All in all, the new BFGoodrich Drag Radial tires generated a notable increase in traction, resulting in lower e.t.'s. Moreover, on the street, the BFG Drag Radial tires provided good handling characteristics as well as low tire noise while cruising on the highway.

To equalize testing, all tires were inflated to be within their factory-recommended pressure settings. The existing P225/60R15 tires and the BFG Radial T/A P275/50R15 tires were set to 30 psi, while the BFG Drag Radials were set at 20 psi (factory-recommended Drag Radial psi settings should be between 18 to 22 psi). Because safety was paramount during all testing, the test driver wore a Simpson helmet and utilized a four-point safety belt setup fastened to the Chevelle's six-point rollbar.

Tire Test
Performance Results (All testing results measured in seconds.)
MPHOld Tires BFG Radial T/A BFG Drag Radial
0-100.6180.4720.431
0-201.5011.1600.921
0-302.2861.7981.608
0-403.1692.7322.391
0-504.2493.8133.470
0-605.4465.0514.539
0-707.0946.6636.117
0-808.9588.6287.979
0-90 11.50911.28210.430
1/4-mile:13.933 @ 100.02 mph13.601 @ 100.70 mph13.204 @ 101.27 mph
SOURCES
BFGoodrich Tires
877-788-8899
www.bfgoodrichtires.com
Valley Tire Co.
517 E. Mahoning
Punxsutawney
PA  15767
Flips Tire Center
7735 Sepulveda Blvd.
Van Nuys
CA
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