Racing tires were one of the last innovations to come out of the automobile world, only emerging in the late sixties. The earliest racing tires were so named as they had their grooves and treads removed or minimised to achieve a smooth and flat surface. The earliest racing tires were also soft and squishy, used for keeping the tall sidewall and cushioning the load. With time, more advanced forms of racing tires called circuit tires emerged. 

Racing Tires vs. Circuit Tires

However, there is a disadvantage. The tires which have a soft sidewall minimises the stability at high speed. This is one of the biggest reasons why racers are required to swap out their tires during the race. Circuit tires have kept these sidewalls intact, making them stiffer.  To understand the utility of both the types of tires, let us look at their differences. 

Racing tires vs Circuit tires

A racing car on the speedway doesn’t require a tire that has a large lifespan. Circuit tires are best for this as they provide the ability to go as fast as possible while still being controllable. They are typically made of a dual-layer of particulate carbon and a combination of polymer. As the rubber is thin, it wears down fast. This means that they provide only a couple of hundred miles worth of racing and are thus, used for narrow periods of time. 

On the other hand, normal racing tires last longer and are similar to normal street tires in many ways. Many manufacturers use materials such as rubber, Kevlar and silica to extend the life of the tires. They also feature complex structures to withstand challenging driving conditions that one may encounter.  Thus racing tires are more versatile, compared to specialised circuit tires which allow for maximum speed. 

A detailed list of differences are given below

  • Tire durability

Normal racing tires are expected to last longer than circuit tires. Circuit tires are on the whole, are designed to be more lightweight. They can also be worn out pretty quickly, which is why they have to be frequently changed. 

  • Tire materials

Normal racing tires are constructed using durable rubber and a heavy steel or Kevlar based radial plies. On the other hand, circuit tires are made using a special polymer compound and a dual layer of particular carbon. 

  • Tire force

Circuit tires are built to be strong but lightweight at the same time. However, they have the ability to withstand larger forces than regular racing tires as they are capable of handling a lot of down force as well as air resistance. On the other hand, normal racing tires cannot withstand that much pressure while racing. 

  • Tire temperature

Normal racing tires may experience some extremes in temperature over their lifespan and are required to be monitored for tyre pressure differences. On the other hand, circuit tires are made in such a way that they can withstand extreme temperatures without any concerns

  • Weather sustainability  

Normal racing tires can survive both wet and dry extremes without any hassle. They are designed to handle weather changes better, depending on the driving technique. Circuit tires aren’t that versatile. Drivers using them are required to carry different sets of tires for specific dry and wet sets. 

Different types of racing tires

Unlike regular tires, racing tires have several types, each made for a specific purpose. 

  • Formula 1 tires

A formula 1 tire needs to deal with quadruple the force of G1. This requires them to be taller, wider and have a rigid structure. This results in a better grip at higher speeds, especially around corners. Formula 1 racing tires come in super soft variants which do not have any tread on them, allowing the car to reach high speeds.  There are other variants such as intermediates and wet tyres. 


NASCAR features cars which have been rebuilt to maximise the vehicle’s speed and performance.  The cars normally have an inner and outer tire and are completely smooth.  They are designed in a way that maximises direct contact with the road surface.

  • Racing slicks

 Racing slicks achieve the maximum rubber-to-road contact possible.  They usually feature a tall sidewall and a wide tread which ensure that they stock to the pavement with a large surface area. To maximise grip, racing slicks are made from softer materials. The soft sidewall and footprint allow for a stronger grip during cornering. 


Tires are quite complex, both racing and circuit tires. While the basic setup of both the tires is the same, circuit tires can be finely tuned to provide greater speed, control, manoeuvrability and strength. This can be achieved by several construction features, unique tread patterns and special rubber compounds. Like normal tires, there isn’t one brand for circuit tires. Sourcing the tires from a reputed dealer and manufacturer will ensure that any car will reach their desired performance level.

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