Where the Road Meets the Track: Breaking Down Nitto's DOT Compliant Competition Tires
For the crowd that loves high performance vehicles, we are truly living in a golden age that has blessed us with both factory and modified vehicles that stretch the limits of road-legal performance to levels that would have been unimaginable just a short time ago.
So as cars continue to get faster and faster it’s increasingly important to have tire choices that can deliver maximum results in competition settings while still meeting all of the requirements the Department of Transportation (DOT) sets for a highway legal tire.
Whether you are into road course lap times or quarter mile ETs, Nitto's enthusiast-focused tire lineup offers several different choices for those looking to take their track and drag strip performance to the next level while maintaining road use ability.
Let's take a look:
There are few places better to test out a car's raw performance than at the drag strip. And no matter how fast a car might be off the showroom floor or upgraded with a host of aftermarket upgrades, traction is always going to be the number one factor when it comes to putting down a fast ET.
A DOT drag radial tire is the perfect way to cut down your 60-foot time and quarter mile ETs at the track without needing a trailer or wheel/tire swap to get home after the day is done. Nitto currently offers three different drag radials in its competition lineup.
Nitto’s NT555R drag radial has been a top choice among weekend racers for years, and as street cars have continued to deliver quicker and quicker ETs Nitto has been right there constantly improving its drag radial formula to deliver the best results.
The NT555R comes in diameters ranging from 15" to 20" and was designed for an optimum balance between drag strip performance and longevity during occasional road use.
Handling a hard launch is the primary job of a drag radial, and the NT555R’s drag strip-developed radial construction helps deliver that, along with increased stability at high speeds.
As drag radials are most often used in pairs for the driven axle, the NT555R was designed and sized specifically to match up with the NT555 summer performance tire on the non-driven axle.
Released in the spring of 2020, the NT555RII DOT compliant drag radial is the newest addition to Nitto's competition tire lineup. Like its predecessor, the NT555RII delivers all of the latest rubber technology for maximum grip and the fastest launches possible.
With the demands of drag strip enthusiasts continuing to grow, the NT555RII is available in an even greater variety of sizes starting at 15" and going all the way up to 22" in wheel diameter fitment for the latest modern performance cars, trucks and SUVs.
Anyone who has been drag racing knows that a good 60 foot time is crucial to fast ET, and the NT555RII’s sidewall construction has been specifically upgraded to improve 60 foot times
As before, the NT555RII has been engineered with a tread pattern the matches the NT555 G2 high performance summer tire on the non-drive axle. The sizing too, is meant to pair up with the non-drag radial version of the tire, the NT555 G2. (Click here to read more about Nitto's newest DOT drag radial tire)
Rounding out the trio of Nitto drag radial offerings is the NT05R. As with the other tires in the family, the NT05R's compound and sidewall construction was developed specifically for off the line traction at the drag strip.
Sizing for the NT05R begins at 17" and goes up to 20" diameters, and as both its name and its tread pattern suggest, the NT05R was designed to pair up with Nitto's NT05 max performance summer tire on the non-driven axle.
If you want to know just how trusted the NT05R is, there’s a reason why Dodge uses it as the factory-supplied tire on the drag-focused Challenger Demon and the new 2021 Challenger Hellcat Super Stock.
DOT Drag Radial Conclusions
No matter which of the three drag radial options you may choose, each is going to deliver vastly improved traction and launch ability at the track while still being friendly for periodic road use.
Whether it’s to swap them on and off your daily driver or leaving them mounted on your weekend toy, there's lots of reasons why so many have relied on Nitto's drag radials over the years.
Road Course Tires
Last but not least, we get to the ideal DOT competition tire choice for track day junkies and corner carvers: the Nitto NT01 DOT-compliant road course tire.
Whether it’s a purpose-built weekend track machine or a modern daily driver that hits the track in its spare time, the NT01 is geared toward those determined to squeeze all they can from their car at the road course.
Fitting a set of NT01s to a track-focused car will pay dividends in terms of acceleration, braking and cornering—and just as importantly the NT01 was also engineered with consistency and heat resistance in mind—so it won’t give up after repeated hot laps. The NT01 even allows for additional flexibility. It comes molded at 6.3/32nds of an inch of tread depth and can be shaved down to 3/32nds of an inch to function as a race slick.
Of course, you don't have to take our word for it. You can tune into to any of our road course driver battle videos to see how the NT01 has fared mounted on a number of different high-performance track machines racing head to head.
As advances in automobile technology continue to narrow the gap between race car and road car, so too have Nitto's DOT-competition tires, allowing enthusiast drivers to take their performance to the next level both at the drag strip and the road course.