The word ‘sticky’ isn’t commonly associated with positive thoughts, though in the world of drag racing, it is everything. A 1000 horsepower street car is not much more than an expensive paperweight if that power can’t be transmitted to the pavement.
In the last few years, more OEM’s have been making vehicles equipped with twenty-inch wheels as a standard option. If you have a hopped up daily driver that fits in this category, you have been forced to buy an extra pair of wheels so you can downsize to a smaller drag radial. That is, until Nitto released their 20” drag radials that we installed on our Trailblazer SS.
Our Nitrous Equipped Trailblazer SS
Our Trailblazer SS has a slew of bolt-ons, including Kooks headers, Corsa cat-backs, and an HP Tuners ECU flash. For a 4500 pound truck, the LS2 still makes a respectable 362 horsepower and 385 lb/ft. to the rear tires. Even with the bottle off, the TBSS had a hard time getting off the line. With the stock tires and the converter loaded on the line, a 2.072 60-foot was the best we could manage.
Nitto’s 20” NT555R Drag Radials
Keeping the stock wheel size on a vehicle is what most desire on their daily driver. Nitto has been making their drag radials since the early 2000′s and carry sizes ranging from 205/55/14 up to a 305/35/20, with the other 20” size made in a 275/40/20. “The NT555R is a D.O.T. compliant competition drag radial designed with maximum flexibility for the weekend drag racer,” says Stephen Leu of Nitto. “The tire comes molded at 6/32nd of an inch and features a unique reinforced belt package to provide improved traction and high-speed stability.” Semi-radial construction combined with a unique reinforced package ensures stability at high track speeds.
The two twenty-inch rear fitments were designed for the S197 Mustang platform and early model muscle cars. But as you can tell, the 275 millimeter version has also become a popular tire for late-model Hemi vehicles, and in our instance, the Trailblazer SS. The best part of all, the Nitto DR’s are 100 tread wear, so they can last a few oil changes. I have personally owned a set that lasted 7,000 miles with some weekend racing, and still had decent traction in the rain.
Nitto Drag Radial Sizing
The compound is formulated to be less sensitive to heat degradation and to retain its performance throughout the life of the tire.
Back To The Track With Nitto Drag Radials
With the 275/40/20′s installed on the back of our SS, we had already gained nearly an inch of tread width that still fit comfortably in the rear fender wells. Also, we swapped out the stock converter for a Yank unit that boasts a higher stall speed and faster shifts. After a few tests and tire pressure adjustments, we opted to stall the converter to 3000 RPM. We were rewarded with a 1.8 60-foot time that stuck with no tire spin, despite it being 95 degrees out on a test and tune session. We are fairly confident that we can expect solid 1.7 60-foots on a better day and a well prepped track.
We are also happy to report that our drag radials have lasted us nearly 10,000 miles and perform great during daily driving. With a simple swap from the stock radials to a pair of 20” Nitto 555R’s we were able to cut two tenths off our sixty foot, which dropped our eighth mile times by nearly half a second. One of the best bang-for-the-buck modifications we have purchased yet.