Race Day is fast approaching, so you need tires for your beasty before taking her on the track. What are the best track day tires?

With so many high-performance racing tires, how can you ensure you are getting the best one? What tires are going to be DOT approved or even street legal? And then there’s the cost. You don’t want to spend a fortune on a tire that will not hold up or comes apart when the slightest bit of heat is applied.

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and several internet sites rate the following tire makers consistently producing the best ultra high-performance track tires. They include but are not limited to Michelin, BF Goodrich Toyo and Yokohama, and others.

Track day tires are not cheap, and you want to make sure you have the proper traction and treadwear left after the race. What about R compound tires? Are they worth the money? The world of high-performance tires has exploded in recent years, and while there is a great deal of hype to wade through, some manufacturers consistently seem to rise above the competition.

Let’s explore the world of best track day tires and see if we can’t slide through the hype about which tires are the best finishers on race day.

Best Track Day Tires
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Rated 4.2/5

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 RMichelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 RMichelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 RMichelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R

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This tire is available at these retailers:

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BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5

BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5

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This tire is available at these retailers:

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Toyo Proxes R888Toyo Proxes R888Toyo Proxes R888Toyo Proxes R888

Toyo Proxes R888

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This tire is available at these retailers:

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Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 RYokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 RYokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 RYokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R

Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R

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This tire is available at these retailers:

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Hankook Ventus R-S4Hankook Ventus R-S4Hankook Ventus R-S4Hankook Ventus R-S4

Hankook Ventus R-S4

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This tire is available at these retailers:

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Hoosier R7Hoosier R7Hoosier R7Hoosier R7

Hoosier R7

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This tire is available at these retailers:

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Nitto NT01Nitto NT01Nitto NT01Nitto NT01

Nitto NT01

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This tire is available at these retailers:

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Falken Azenis RT660Falken Azenis RT660Falken Azenis RT660Falken Azenis RT660

Falken Azenis RT660

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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What Exactly is a Track Day Tire?

As its name suggests, a track day tire is specifically designed for use on vehicles run on the race track. Most ultra-high-performance tires provide increased traction and better handling around curves at high rates of speed. Unlike racing slicks, which are almost or entirely smooth, these tires have some tread left.

What are the Best Top Track Day Tires?

There are many track-day tires to choose from depending on your needs and car. (The right tire for your car will depend on various conditions, and you need to do your homework before choosing a tire for your particular vehicle).

Michelin Sport Cup 2 R

This tire has better than average treadwear, reasonable temperature control, and good traction. If you need a street-legal tire with excellent handling and is easy to drive for your high-end Porsche or AMG, this is the tire. The tire uses a Bi-compound rubber combining a highly elastic elastomer for tight cornering and a stiffer compound for traction. The Sport Cup 2 has consistently performed well during lap times and was developed as OE for some of the fastest sports cars on the market. Michelin claims that the tires produce 40% more laps than competitors due to longer tread life. This tire does hydroplane over wet surfaces occasionally and tends to be more expensive than other brands.

Pros

  • Longer Treadlife
  • Consistent grip
  • Excellent Hold during cornering
  • Versatile use (street or track)
  • Developed in conjunction with high-performance vehicles like Porsche

Cons

  • High risk of hydroplaning on wet pavement
  • Expensive tire
  • Tend toward puncture

Basic Reviews from Internet Sites

Source Review Comments
nhtsa.gov Treadwear (140) Temperature (A) Traction (A)
topspeed.com All rounder, street legal, excellent handling
tire-reviews.com High levels of grip for the track, easy to drive
grassrootsmotorsports Staple of Track scene for many years
autoguide.com Absurd levels of grip. OE tire on some of the world’s fastest cars
tirerack.com OE on Porsche 918 Spyder, Ferrari 458, AMG Coupe Black Series

BF Goodrich G Force Rival S 1.5

This tire is SCCA legal and designed for the road or the track (DOT approved). The tire has a stiffer core and has less sidewall flex for precise cornering. The tire is made for autocross racing and tends to perform better during hotter months. The Rival S warms up quickly and has an excellent feel but is less agile in wet conditions. The tire has a PRC (Performance Racing Core), reinforcing the interior to prevent puncture. BF Goodrich tends to be less expensive than other brands, so the price-to-value ratio is higher.

Pros

  • Better than average treadwear
  • DOT approved - use on the street or track
  • Quicker warm-up
  • Excellent tire for autocross, insane grip
  • Better Price to Value ratio

Cons

  • Not a comfortable ride on the street as Michelin
  • Not suited for wet conditions
  • Bit noisy when on-street

Basic Reviews from Internet Sites

Source Review Comments
nhtsa.gov Treadwear (200) Temperature (A) Traction (AA)
topspeed.com Built for acceleration, braking and handles well on curves.
tire-reviews.com Best time on single lap, 3 laps, and excellent steering, good grip
grassrootsmotorsports Great longevity, good pace, and consistency
drive55.org Better price to value ratio than Michelin, Good for light trucks
drivingtips.com Noisy on street, wide variety of sizes, exceptional handling

Toyo Proxes R888

This tire has an R-compound designed to improve grip, which is why it is rated excellent for traction by the NHTSA. The V directional tread improves contact during dry and wet conditions and maximizes center contact. The tire tends to be more comprehensive, improving its cornering capabilities. While the Toyo is supposed to be street legal and is DOT approved, most reviews found it wore out too quickly to make sense as a daily driving tire.

Pros

  • R - compound tire for improved stickiness
  • Excellent grip and traction
  • Wider tire for improved handling

Cons

  • Noisy Tire
  • Not designed for wet surface
  • Oversteer likely - particularly on wet pavement

Basic Reviews from Internet Sites

Source Review Comments
nhtsa.gov Treadwear (100) Temperature (A) Traction (AA)
topspeed.com Great Track Tire, wear out too soon for street use
tire-reviews.com Excessive tread noise, oversteer at limits likely
grassrootsmotorsports Excellent grip, well-rounded tire
autoguide.com Best suited for track - excessive road noise.
1010tires.com Not usable on a wet surface, excessive noise, great grip

Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R

This tire has two center strips of tread surrounded by hydroarch grooves to help prevent loss of control on wet surfaces. Twin ribs on the sides provide superb handling and a quick steering response during cornering. Traction is rated very high, and the R-compound proves to be sticky enough to procure fast race times.

Pros

  • Excellent traction
  • No heat needed to warm up
  • Best suited for track
  • Unique design - more tread than other tires
  • Very high review rating

Cons

  • Tread noise
  • Expensive tire
  • Poor West performance

Basic Reviews from Internet Sites

Source Review Comments
nhtsa.gov Treadwear (180) Temperature (A) Traction (AA)
topspeed.com Sticky compound - excellent grip - good street use or track
tire-reviews.com Excessive tread noise, good tire for autocross
grassrootsmotorsports Excellent grip - no heat needed.
autoguide.com Best suited for track - expensive tire, some road noise
alltyretests.com Poor wet performance, longest dry braking distance

Hankook Ventus R-S4

This high-performance tire is street legal and provides a motocross feel for better grip. A single wide center strip allows the tire's surface to continually make contact with the pavement. Reinforced sidewalls prevent gouging and enhance the ability around corners. The tire is not suited for wet surfaces and is prone to hydroplaning on damp surfaces.

Pros

  • Wide center strip
  • Highest level of grip on dry pavement
  • Fairly good tread life

Cons

  • Not the fastest single lap performance
  • Bumpy, noisy, less comfortable

Basic Reviews from Internet Sites

Source Review Comments
nhtsa.gov Treadwear (200) Temperature (A) Traction (AA)
topspeed.com Highest levels of grip, improved traction on dry and wet
tire-reviews.com Not fastest lap time, enjoyable to drive, good steering response
grassrootsmotorsports.com Better grip when hot, less expensive tire
autoguide.com Best grip, excellent handling and performance
tirerack.com Better wet performance, Well priced tire, excessive grip

Hoosier R7 335

The Hoosier R7 is not intended for highway use, even though it has passed DOT specs for appearance. The tire can be rotated and has excellent grip force. The tire cannot be driven in wet conditions and is made with two steel plies to help prevent puncture. The tires are excellent for the first few races but need to be rotated afterward for increased treadwear.

Pros

  • Better tire for heavier cars
  • Grip is good. Still, it needs initial shaving
  • Wider tire increases the grip

Cons

  • Expensive racing tire
  • Not for street or highway use
  • No warranty for R7 tires

Basic Reviews from Internet Sites

Source Review Comments
nhtsa.gov Treadwear (380) Temperature (A) Traction (A)
racelogistic.com Faster cornering speeds, allows drivers to apply more power
test.tires.com Excellent grip, for track only.
grassrootsmotorsports.com Better grip, but very expensive tire, lower wear and tear
Hoosiertire.com One directional, no warranty, no use on wet surface
tirerack.com Specialty rubber, makes the largest number of racing tires

Nitto NT01

This is an excellent tire for a weekend racer that balances treadwear and handling. The compound provides excellent longevity and heat tolerance. The Nitto was a consistently high performer in track lap times, performing better than the Michelin Sport Cup, and lasts longer than Hoosiers. It does tend toward noise and is not designed for wet pavement.

Pros

  • Longevity
  • Better handling and balance
  • Less expensive

Cons

  • Not for wet pavement
  • Racing tire, so some noise expected

Basic Reviews from Internet Sites

Source Review Comments
Nhtsa.gov Treadwear (100) Temperature (A) Traction (A)
tire-review.com Faster lap speeds, twice longevity, best price to value
test.tires.com Excellent grip - lasts longer than Hoosier, faster times
drivingline.com Best balance between heat and grip
1010tires.com Greater threshold braking, lasts longer than Hoosier
discounttire.com Effective balance between performance and traction

Falken Azenis RT660

Motortrend.com loves this tire and has given it very high reviews. The directional tread allows for rotation inside to outside and increases longevity. The RT660 provides excellent grip and handling. The tire has a wider stance, which improves contact with the road surface. The rubber compound does tend to wear more quickly than its RT615 predecessor.

Pros

  • More forgiving tire - allows for pushing the car harder
  • Directional tread
  • Excellent grip
  • Good balance

Cons

  • Tends to wear quickly
  • Not for wet pavement

Basic Reviews from Internet Sites

Source Review Comments
Nhtsa.gov (RT615) Treadwear (100) Temperature (A) Traction (A)
tirereviewandmore.com Excellent tire, and excellent price to value
tires-reviews.com Well priced tire, good quality, direct and stable handling
grassrootsmotorsports Loved tire, great response and handling
1010tires.com Street legal - DOT approved
tirerack.com More forgiving tire - very suitable for track

How Does an Ultra Performance Tire Work?

An ultra-performance tire contains a rubber compound that increases the adhesion of the tire to the pavement when heated. (A good track day tire does not work well during colder or wetter temperatures - its rubber compound works best in response to extreme heat). In addition, these types of tires are designed with tread patterns that will maximize the ability of the car to maintain surface contact around curves, which also means, owners cannot rotate them because of their asymmetrical design.

What are the Benefits of a Track Day Tire?

There are benefits to purchasing and using track day tires for racing.

Increased Safety

Regular tires are designed for use on road surfaces with tread patterns that can channel away water on wet pavement. While most track day tires are not for use in wet conditions, they dissipate heat very well on a dry track, allowing for a firmer grip on the pavement. Regular street tires may be fine for use on the track, but track day tires will always grip better and provide better stability during steering.

Better Steering through Curves

The softer compounds that track day tires have allows the tire to bend with a curve rather than fight against it. The track tire's increased ability lets the car enter the steering cycle with more power and grip without fear of oversteering and spinning out.

More Aggressive Braking

Since track tires have less tread and a stickier rubber compound; they require less distance for an adequate stop. Regular tires have tread that must engage with the pavement, but a track race tire is made to adhere to the roadway. This quality aids in acceleration and deceleration.

Are There Disadvantages to Owning Track Day Tires?

While track day tires provide benefits for serious racers, there are some things to consider before purchasing a set.

Track Day Tires are More Expensive Than Standard Tires

The average cost of a track day tire is about $300 - 400 per tire. The unique rubber compound that is often used means that the cost of the tire is much more than buying a set of standard tires. Usually, the lighter the car, the less you will be forced to spend on tires. Remember that most tracks charge an entry fee of several hundred dollars.

Racing Tires Wear Out More Quickly

Due to the lack of tread, racing tires will wear out more frequently than regular tires. Depending on the car’s weight and how hard the car is pushed around the track will determine the tire's life. Different track tires last longer than others, but you should plan on getting about 10 - 15 races. However, a constant inspection after every race of all tires will prevent you from driving on unsafe tires and having a crash which only leads to higher expenses.

Track Day Tires Need to be Stored

The storage of tires must be in a cool place, which dictates a specific spot in the garage or basement. (Excessive heat breaks down the rubber compound, so you cannot just toss them anywhere).

About THE AUTHOR

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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