center_img World-Class Runner Caryn Lubetsky Didn’t Run Her First Marathon Until She Was 40 Woody’s next tidbit pertained to thread pattern and tire grades. In fair weather, the best tires for the track are either R-Compound or slicks. An R-Comp tire features a shallow tread pattern and is DOT approved for street use. A slick lacks any tread pattern, is not approved for street use, and wears much faster than an R-Comp. A set of R-Comps will retain peak traction for about 16-18 hours of hard use, while a slick will begin yielding grip after just two hours. In addition to these options, Woody prescribed a set or dedicated “rain tires” — ones with deep tread grooves — as the ideal instrument for wet weather.The final tip in my race tire crash course was about heat cycling. News to some (myself included) is that two sets of tires, created by the exact same methods, can perform in dramatically different ways based on their post-production procedure. If you pull one set off the assemble line, put it on a car, and start racing, you’ll experience a rapid peak in performance, followed by inconsistency over the life of the tire. However, if you bring a tire up to temperature (accomplished via approximately three laps of a circuit or a few minutes on Tire Rack’s heat cycling machine), then store it for 24 hours or more (but not longer than three weeks), it will perform consistently from the first day.Following Woody’s briefing, I sought his advice for my next set of tires. Based on Southern California’s dry climate and my intended use at Willow Springs, we concluded a set of BFGoodrich R1-S would serve me well.Perfect conditions to evaluate the performance differences between new and old rubber.A week before the SCCA Majors competition, my fresh tires arrived heat-cycled and ready to roll. The weather forecast promised clear skies and cool temperatures for both Saturday and Sunday’s races — perfect conditions to evaluate the performance differences between new and old rubber.However, Saturday’s weather started favorably, then it all went awry. Dark clouds appeared on the horizon an hour before my race. By the time I was scheduled to grid, raindrops were spattering the car windows. Without a set of proper rain tires (I had erringly put off Woody’s recommendation for a later date), my crew chief and I had a decision to make: stick with the new slicks or swap in my R-comps.Temperature would be the determining factor. Without a glimmer of sunlight, the temperature had dropped to 40 degrees. The treaded R-comps would be more effective to eject water, but it would take too long for them to come up to temperature. Provided I found the track’s rain line, the slicks would be more effective. Starting mid-pack, I saw the green flag and darted up to fourth position after the first corner. First place — a high-output car in a different class — seemed to leap ahead. Three corners later, however, he was picking his car out of the dirt to rejoin the race. All around me, cars were squirming, and though the rain was coming down thick now, I felt confident.Smooth inputs of the wheel and careful feeding of the throttle kept me on track.The slicks clung to the available traction found high on banked corners. Smooth inputs of the wheel and careful feeding of the throttle kept me on track. Braking was the biggest challenge; twice the tires locked, pushing the car’s tail out, and twice I wrestled the car straight. An increase in braking distances eliminated lockup.Second place struggled to put the power down, and a particularly wide turn gave me room to pass on the inside. Five laps from the finish, the rain started the let up and visibility improved. I started pushing a bit harder in the corners and slowly gained on the first place car, an Acura TLX on treaded R-comps. By the final lap, I was just over a second behind. Not willing to do anything dumb to make a pass, I clung to second overall.Miles Branman/The ManualMiles Branman/The Manual 12 Classic Sci-Fi Novels Everyone Who Likes Reading Should Readlast_img read more