Why Do Race Cars Have Wide Tires

Are you into GP? Have you ever wondered why do race cars have wide tires instead of the thin tires that normal cars have? This article will answer all your doubts.

The most crucial part of racing cars is their tires. It determines a lot while on the track. Thus it is quite different from other types of vehicles.

Let’s learn more about racing car tires and why race cars have such wide tires?


Why Do Race Cars Have Wide Tires


Pros And Cons of Wide Tires

Wide tires exceed standard tires in width, thus providing better grip. The surface of contact for wide tires is much more than the narrower ones. The larger area of contact helps you to achieve more speed on dry roads. 

But it is unwise to add wide tires to your typical car because all cars have a definite width of tire that can allow for safe driving. 


  • Wide tires spread the car’s weight across the surface of the tires, helping the tires provide more lateral grip through better interlocking between the ground and the tire. The interlocking is efficient even on snow.
  • More grip means better acceleration efficiency and fewer chances of wheel spins.
  • Wide tires provide better braking power due to the larger area of contact between the surface of the road and the rubber surface of the tire.
  • Wide tires have large tread blocks to provide a short braking distance.


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  • Wide tires have more area, making them more prone to dirt and nails
  • Wide tires add extra weight to the car and make it challenging to drive as the weight of the steering system increases. 
  • If you have a wide tire car, you will know how difficult it is to turn the vehicle compared to regular tires. You need to turn in a larger circle to avoid contact with the inner wheel. 
  • Wide tires are prone to aquaplaning, even in standstill water. Aquaplaning is when water builds up between road and tires, resulting in loss of traction power of the car. 
  • Wide tires are not bad for snow-covered roads. Still, a narrower tire can do a better job as a narrow tire can more efficiently cut through the snow as the car’s weight is concentrated in a smaller area.
  • Wide tires are made of rubber which makes a lot of noise on the turf.
  • Wide tires have more resistance and pressure, which is uncomfortable for regular rides and even damages the road. 


Why Do Race Cars Have Wide Tires


Difference Between Normal Car Tyres and Racing Car Tires. 

Tires indeed make all the difference. A racing car must have a superb tire to withstand the high speeds that cause a lot of rolling resistance

Reports reveal that an average car tire can last about 40,000 kilometers (that’s about 25,000 miles). In comparison, a racing car tire can hardly last 300 kilometers (about 190 miles).


Racing car tires are made light in weight to help them gain speed, making them less durable than standard car tires.

Materials Used

Materials used for regular cars are different from racing cars because the purposes of both are widely different. 

A typical car tire is made of heavy steel, radial plies which are plated with kevlar.

A racing car is made chiefly of rubber-like polymers supported by a double layer of particulate carbon. The presence of a dual-layer of carbon helps increase the tires’ grip on the race track

Ability To Withstand A Wide Variety Of Extreme Forces

Racing car tires had to withstand a lot of downforce along with resistance and frictional force. The tires are built lightweight, but they are capable of balancing these forces. 

While usual tires cannot balance such forces or tolerate the pressure, they don’t need this feature as they are not expected to be used for racing on tracks. 


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Racing cars are all about speed. Thus aerodynamics matters the most to racers. Aerodynamics depends mostly on tires. Tire friction, tire pressure, the heat produced by the tire, shape of the tire, etc., affect the car’s aerodynamics. 

You can even make a race car more efficient by simply improving its aerodynamic features, for example, by decreasing the tire’s pressure. 

But standard tires used in motorcycles, bicycles, or cars meant for the road are designed to be sustainable rather than achieve more speed. So, you should not worry about aerodynamics if you own a car for regular use and drive it on roads, not on race tracks. 


Why Do Race Cars Have Wide Tires

Temperature Resistance

Race cars are made of particular temperature-resistant materials to withstand the heat produced by constant rolling friction. 


Tread is the rubber layer surrounding a tire that helps in traction. Regular car tires are expected to have at least a minimum 1.5 mm wide tread on the wire. 

Racing cars, on the other hand, may or may not have tread surrounding their circumference. A particular type of tire used in racing called slick tires is known to not have any tread.

Lack of tread increases surface contact with the road, thus increasing the grip on the track for the race cars. 

But this makes it less durable than standard car tires. 

Slick Tires

In 2009, slick tires came in. The slick tires replaced grooved tires, which had at least four longitudinal grooves with a minimum depth of 2.55mm because the speed achieved by those tires was limited. 

The formula one rules changed to fix problems about speed and aerodynamics by using harder rubber instead of softer materials that were easier to create the necessary groves. 

All Terrain

Racing car tires are designed to survive in all terrains. You can drive a usual car in dry and wet topography. Still, racing cars are way more efficient in diverse landscapes than ordinary cars. 


Why Do Race Cars Have Wide Tires


Race Car tires are more versatile than standard tires. They are optimum for not only track racing but also road racing. Racers have to carry a few sets for dry and wet terrain. 

Nitrogen Filled

Race Car tires use nitrogen instead of air, as in regular cars. Nitrogen is used in race car tires because it is colorless, odorless, and, most importantly, non-toxic gas. 

Moreover, nitrogen has a cooling effect that helps bring down the temperature of the tire. This effectively increases the tire’s life span. Nitrogen also helps to maintain the constant pressure of the tire. It is also unreactive towards other tire components, including rim metal and rubber polymers used in making the tire. 


To summarize, Racing cars use much wider tires than regular tires to provide better grip, preventing slippage of racing cars during high-speed racing on the track. 


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Why Tires Are The Most Important Component of a Racing Car?

You might think that the most crucial part of a race is its aerodynamics or the engine. 

Although a powerful engine and proper aerodynamic features go a long way for a car to attain its maximum speed, the tires are the most critical part of a race car. 

The Tire Bears All Heat And Friction

A tire literally gets the car rolling. A robust engine or a solid aerodynamic system would not matter; if your tires can not withstand the speed and consequences such as friction, resistance, or temperature, you would be far from a winner. The sidewall of a tire affects the spring rate that allows the car to attain a certain level of acceleration.

Indentation Angle

Another essential factor of a tire is the indentation angle. If the tires do not allow the car to bend at a certain angle, it will mess up the forces acting on the car. 

Molecular Bonding

The deeper you dive into the microscopic level, you see how the tiniest molecules of a race car tire impact griping and so many other factors. Ultimately it’s a good tire that makes the difference between a winner and someone who could have won. 


Why Do Race Cars Have Wide Tires

Answers To Some More Questions About Racing Car Tires

Are wider tires better for racing?

Yes, wider tires are preferred over narrower ones for racing purposes. Wider tires cover more surfaces, which proportionally increases the grip. The grip is a crucial part of racing. 

Why do race car tires have no tread?

Tread functions to make standard car tires more durable and safe. Tread allows you to drive safely in various road conditions, dry, wet, or rocky. 

But it makes the tire groovy and uneven. Uneven tires are not good for racing. Race cars need smooth tires to provide better traction in dry race tracks. That is why slick tires were introduced in race cars in 2008 so that they could help the drivers achieve quicker speeds than ever before.

What is the point of wider tires?

In simple words, wider tires provide efficient gripping and cover more area to distribute the car’s weight over a larger area. The two factors are crucial for race cars but are entirely unnecessary in standard vehicles. This is why race car tires are wider than normal cars.


Why Do Race Cars Have Wide Tires

Mystery Behind The Wide Tires in Racing Cars!  

A Tire’s width can influence many aspects of a race car.

A wide tire covers more surface area and divides the car’s weight across a large extent, thus contributing to the vehicle’s lightweight while driving. 

A wide tire provides a better grip and leans to the perfect angle to maximize the car’s speed.      

Although wide tires are great for race cars, it is not suitable for average vehicles. Each vehicle has its own right width of tire that works best for it. Moreover, wide tires are not meant for regular driving.                                                        


We hope you learned something new from this article! Do share your thoughts and comments below and recommend this read for those friends who are into racing cars. And always drive safe, be it the race track or a normal road.


Happy Driving!


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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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