48-pound Top Fuel Tires = Insanity


36 inches tall, 17.5 inches wide, and mounted on a 16 inch wheel, these tires are what some may call “yuge”, especially when you consider that the tire weighs a whopping 48 pounds. What is really mind-boggling though is what happens to the tire during its 1/4 mile trip. Below you will see an image of a top fuel tire. Notice how it is all wrinkly and flat like a deflated air mattress? The measly 6 psi that fills the tire at the starting line ensures that this will happen. When the car takes off, the tire will squat down and create a large flat area for maximum grip on the launch. That’s what creates that wrinkle you see in the tire, and what springs the car forward.

As that car reaches the half-way point, those tires are fighting two extreme forces. On one hand, the car is travelling more than 300 mph, resulting in extreme centrifugal force spreading the tires out. The car’s aero, however, is placing 5000 lbs of down force on the tires, flattening them out. This is why the back of the tire actually looks squared off. By the end of the race, the tire will measure between 5-7 inches taller than it did at the starting line!


Plenty of research goes into these tires, but also A LOT of rubber. This is why the price tag is $917 per tire. I spent around half that on my last full set of tires. Plus, they last for about 1.5-2 miles. Enough for a few passes at the strip and nothing more. That being said, they’re also the only tires with a speed rating of 330 mph.

The more you know.

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Taken on November 14, 2014
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Great info - and you get your used tires at any top fuel or funny car mech stand at the major NHRA races - usually $50 to $100 depending on the racers’ “prestige”.