Official: Difference between SLICKS and Drag Radials
All information was taken from various muscle car forums, srt forums, dsm forums, and magazines.
Drag slicks are racing tires which offer uncompromised traction. As the name implies, slicks have no tread so as to maximize the contact of the tire. Like the D.O.T.-legal slicks, drag slicks feature a soft compound and a soft, two-ply sidewall designed to wrinkle on launch. These tires should never be used on the street. If you were to get caught in the rain or drive through a puddle, they would instantly hydroplane. Also, due to their soft construction, slicks are prone to punctures, and handling is compromised.
Drag Radials are a STREET TIRE that is made with a softer compound. It is intended for slightly better traction than a regular street tire. Drag Radials have street tire-like tread. They feature a soft compound and a slightly softer sidewall. These tires are designed to be used on the street or at the track. They are not intended for slick-like launches, but rather a street tire-like launch with the added grip to help out those 60-foots. The disadvantage to drag radials is the softer launch doesn't lead to 60-foots equivalent of the Drag Slicks and it has a stiff sidewall just like a street tire, so wheel hop may occur which can lead to brokend drivetrain components.
There's a wide variety here. True racing slicks primarily are a bias ply wrinkle sidewall tire.
Then you have DOT cheater slicks like the Hoosier QTP and the Mickey Thompson Et Street. Both are a bias ply tire, just like a slick, but have a couple small grooves and are somehow DOT approved. They may have a minor compound difference, possibly a little difference in the sidewall construction, but are very close to a true slick.
You then have the current crop of DOT Drag Radial tires like the BFG, Nitto, Hoosier and M/T. These are totally different than a bias ply slick. The radials are just that a radial constructed tire specifically built for racing with softer compounds and sidewall construction to allow some wrinkle, but stiffer than a bias ply.
Offshoots of the bias ply slick are a stiff sidewall version as well as a radial slick.
Most any of these will provide excellent traction assuming the cars driveline and chassis are setup properly and can take advantage of the additional traction.
There is another major difference between the way bias ply slicks work and the way Drag Radial work. If you get on a poorly prepared track the slicks will usually still bite while the drag radials will spin and cause severe tire shake that can break driveline parts, usually rear end gears and axles. On real good biting strips the D.R.s are a little faster and quicker but initial traction is crucial with them.
slicks are stickier.
slicks will reduce the likely hood of breaking an axle due to wheel hop.
slicks will get you better 60' times.
drag radials can be driven to the track and back home again. (albet carefully)
that's about it for DRs.
talk to the M&H guys on here. they'll get you the right tire for your car.
You'll see a HUGE difference between slicks and DRs.
DRs are better suited for a stickier alternative to a street tire. You can heat up DRs but they are not the same compound as a slick. They will not expand like a slick does when properly heated up.
PROPER SIZING IS KEY!!!!
In order to achieve the best 60-ft or best et while at the strip, you must try to size the proper slick or drag radial to your car.
Ralliartist's reccommendation for all cobalts is the Hoosier DOT drag radial. While the name implies that it is a radial tire, it is NOT.
These Hoosier D.O.T. drag radial tires meet the Department of Transportation requirements for marking and performance only. They feature a special compound to provide good traction, making them perfect for classes that require a street-legal style tire. The D.O.T. drag radials are not intended for street use, or for use on public roads.
It is a CHEATER SLICK and it is very appropriately sized for optimal gearing and traction for a FWD cobalt gearing and power.
Obviously there are many more choices out there, but that is the tire I highly reccommend to achieve best ET's and trap speed while at the track.
For those wanting to stay on 17" and 18" rims:
Ralliartist reccommends the Mickey Thompson ET street radial. Keep in mind THIS IS NOT A SLICK. The 17" tire will also be geared better. The 18" rim has a larger diameter and will make your gears longer which will cause acceleration to suffer slightly.