Well this is the year I finally do it. My kids are both school-age and far more manageable. We have settled into life after moving back to my hometown, and my Mazda RX-8 is running properly. This will be the year that I finally run a full autocross season!
While I have most of my car sorted out pretty well to run in the SCCA STX-Class, I am up in the air on what tires I want to run. Due to the fact that I now have a set of ‘street’ wheels and tires after selling my STI, I now have the luxury of buying a sticky compound for race-weekends to run on my RPF-1's!
I have spent some time pricing out options and have narrowed down my choices to about 3 tires. The debate I’m having in my head is not one of ‘Which is the fastest of these tires?’, but rather ‘Which of these will be the best tires for me?’
I am very much an amateur driver. I have done a couple of HDPE’s and have been to a pursuit-driving school, but I hardly consider that level of experience as anything more than a basic understanding of performance driving. I have always tried to be humble and take in as much as I can from my instructors. And I don’t plan on going out there and being competitive, nor do I really care to be. I just want to go out there and have a good time and improve my driving skills with the hope that this will turn into something that I can do with my son in a few years when he is old enough to run a kart.
So this leads me to what I’m looking at for in a set of tires. I have spent a ton of time reading up on what is the ‘best’ and what is the ‘latest and greatest’. I will plug this article written by Brad Yonkers who I knew through the local VW-club back when I lived in Michigan. It provides a concise list of all the max-performance 200-Treadwear tires out for the upcoming season and gives a bit of info on all of them.
So here’s my three main choices and some of the pros and cons I see with them:
- Federal 595 RS-RR- At $480-shipped, these are the cheapest set of tires on my list by over $100. While I’m not poor, I can’t help but to think that going cheap on my first season of tires isn’t all that bad of an idea. From everything I have read about them, they provide as much dry-grip as the Hankook Ventus RS3's, but are noisier. They also tend to run wide in their sizing which might be a bit of concern as my 255's are already close to rubbing. I also like that they look kind of cool.
- Maxxis Victra VR-1- One of the more experienced Autocross locals mentioned these tires to me last year as he plans on running them this year. I didn’t know they existed, nor does nearly anyone I have mentioned them to unless they were an avid racer. From what I’ve been told, they are a great wearing tire that could easily get me through 2 full auto-x seasons even if I kept them on the car full-time (I put about 4-6k miles on my RX-8 each year). I’ve also been told that they are a good ‘beginner’ tire because they are not as twitchy at the limit as some of the other top-performing tires. At $660-shipped, they are still on the lower end of cost, but still $180 more than the Federals.
- Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R- The RE-71R is quite a popular tire and is what I saw on pretty much all of the top-tier cars in the Street-classes. Out of the 3, I’m confident that these would be the fastest, but they would also probably wear the fastest. At $728-shipped, they are also the most expensive choiceof the 3, but not much more than the Maxxis tires. If I was buying simply on what I thought I could be the fastest with, these would be the choice.
So that is where I’m at right now. If you have experience with any of these tires, I’d appreciate some feedback. I will admit that if I had to buy a tire at this moment, I’d buy the Maxxis Victra VR-1, but that’s because they give you a free t-shirt with purchase! (That’s a joke, but they are what I’m leaning towards right now).
The author, who goes by ‘Joe’ in real life, is an automotive enthusiast and likes to pretend that he’s a decent writer. He owns a 2014 Ford Police Interceptor-Utility, and a 2004 RX-8 (Which he will haul his wife and 2-kids around in). He has also owned a 500hp Fiero and likes to do most of his own-wrenching on his cars. You can reach him at AkursedX@gmail.com and find more of his stories HERE.