The Physics of Tires

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I ordered the wheels and tires from American Muscle, a company that specializes in aftermarket accessories for Mustangs.  Apparently owning a Mustang is a requirement for working there; the salesperson who took my order told me to let him know how the wheels and tires worked out because he wanted a set for his own autocross Mustang!

The tires arrived the day before I had a big autocross meet, which was great, because it let me immediately find out how much of a difference they made.

2011 Mustang GT Autocross

I was paranoid about installing the new tires, so I think I checked the tightness of the lug nuts no fewer than five times in the pits before and after runs.

The difference in handling was simply phenomenal.  Whereas I was at the limit of the tires’ grip before, I was nowhere near these tires’ limits.  I kept throwing the car into corners harder and harder trying to find  the limits of traction.  I finally found the limit on a high-speed sweeper when I understeered  just enough to miss a gate.  And I’m convinced that was driver error, because I was simply going too fast to make the turn.

2011 Mustang GT Autocross.
Photo courtesy of S. Fischman Photography

 

2011 Mustang GT Autocross
Photo courtesy of S. Fischman Photography

My point here is that if you are into car performance at all; do not underestimate how big of a difference a good set of tires can make to your vehicle’s performance.  It really should be one of the first (if not the first) mods you do to a car.  Increasing the potential of your tires improves everything your car does—accelerating, braking, and cornering.  What other bolt-on modification is there that can claim to improve everything?

2011 Mustang GT Rearview

 

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