It was one of the best lines from the truly forgettable racing flick, "Days of Thunder," but it was also true. "Tires win races," explained the great Robert Duvall to Tom Cruise's character, except the way he said it was "Tars win races." It's a southern thing. One of the first things enthusiasts do when they get a hot rod is change the tires. Usually, it's so they can put the biggest possible meat at all four corners and they do it for the sake of appearance. Which is silly because the ultimate goal is more grip and better braking performance. Tires definitely do win races, but they are critical to the performance of any street car. This is something that is often overlooked, especially these days when people go to ridiculous sizes (21s, 22, etc.) just for the supposed "cool factor" We are working on a story with BMR Fabrications on the development of its new suspension components for the ’10 Camaro and did some before and slightly after testing on the road course at Gainesville Raceway.
First we tested the car in 100 percent bone-stock trim (photo below). Its two best laps (after settling on correct tire pressures) were 1.08.55 and 1.08.30 with yours truly at the helm. It was about what we expected given the performance of a previous SS six-speed manual test car.
Then the BMR crew switched to a set of Toyo R888s, size 285/35ZR20 front, 315/30ZR20 rear (see above photo). Wheels were CCW SP20A, 20x10 front, 20x11.5 rear. My first full lap after heating the skins was a 1.05.50, followed by a 1.05.86, 1.05.37 and finally 1.05.66. Our best lap on this small 1-mile track was nearly three full seconds better than the stock Pirelli PZero summer tires—which are excellent performance tires, by the way. Imagine what the difference would be on a long track over the course of a 20 minute race.
Stay tuned to future issues of Super Chevy and we'll give you the full skinny on the development of this Camaro and its tires (not to mention its before and after skidpad and slalom times).