The drag racing freak show known as Outlaw 10.5 helped propel small tire racing to new heights when the class began. Outlaw 10.5 produced some amazing racing and set the stage for the radial tire movement, which ultimately eclipsed Outlaw 10.5 in performance. The PDRA is keeping small tire racing on slicks alive with its Pro Street class and the organization’s approach seems to be working.
You can’t deny the fact that classes like Radial vs The World and Pro 275 put up some amazing numbers on the scoreboard with runs in the 3.40s and 3.60s respectively, but that performance level comes at a cost. There’s a huge amount of track prep required for radial tires to run that quick, and when you’ve got a series like the PDRA that specializes in slick tire racing that becomes an issue.
PDRA Race Director Tyler Crossnoe knows plenty about small tire radial racing and what it takes to make those cars shine. Crossnoe also saw what the PDRA’s core competencies are and understood it would be difficult to mate slicks and radials.
“When looking at the PDRA as a whole, it had a little bit of almost everything in drag racing – Pro Mods, Pro Stock, Motorcycles, Top Sportsman, Top Dragsters, Juniors, and more. The one thing that was missing so to speak was a small tire class, which has been popular since the mid-2010s. We began the category by building a rulebook around the Limited Drag Radial and Pro 275 categories, keeping the cars on radial tires. The issue we experienced was the racing surface being prepped for 10 classes on slicks and only one class on drag radials. This added some twists and turns for a lot of teams to navigate that did not go over smoothly and was not very popular across the board.”
The Pro Street class is required to use a 33×10.5W slick tire. Since the Outlaw 10.5 national series was canceled, there were numerous racers looking for a home who weren’t interested in racing on a radial. These racers reached out to the PDRA to try and put together a class that would be competitive using some of the Outlaw 10.5 rules.
“There are a number of racers who disagreed with our decision to focus on slicks because of the speed of radials being such an attraction for many. Radial racing is a very popular box to check for small-tire racing, but to run those speeds it involves a lot of track prep, which was already the issue in 2020 that we fought as an organization. We see the viability of small-tire slick tire classes growing as racers remember that these tires are effective in all conditions, rather than needing perfect prep and cool air for them to make hero passes. After all, drag racing is about racing the best competition in the world to see who is the most talented racer, from vehicle preparation to power management — not necessarily who is the quickest competitor on a given day,” Crossnoe explains.
Crossnoe notes the Pro Street class has created plenty of buzz within the PDRA community. The Pro Street class is an ongoing project that the organization is working toward growing into a top-tier attraction.
“The Pro Street racers have responded very well for the return of small-tire slick racing to a big series. Our goal for the class is for it to stay in the high 3.9-second range in good racing conditions because that is achievable for a number of combinations and teams. As we gather more data under the current ruleset, our PDRA rules committee will begin to fine-tune our current rulebook to make sure all combinations can have a place to race and be competitive in the chase for a world championship in the PDRA,” Crossnoe says.
The PDRA knew going into creating the Pro Street class that it wouldn’t have massive 16-plus car fields from the beginning. Crossnoe’s plan is to accept the learning curve and growing pains to make sure a sustainable rules package could be created based on racer feedback. The Pro Street class debuted with seven cars at Galot Motorsports Park during the PDRA season opener and at the most recent event at Summit Motorsports Park 11 cars signed in to race.
Crossnoe and the PDRA are looking at the Pro Street class as a long-term investment; that objective will require the PDRA to make sure the rules are kept in check so a variety of racers can come participate.
“Our long-term goals for the class are pretty simple – keep the racing as close as possible, keep the elapsed times obtainable for as many teams and combinations as we can in hopes that this builds our car count into full 16-car fields at each event on the PDRA tour. We want to continue promoting a fun atmosphere to race in that is also professional and checks all the boxes of a championship racing series. Our goal for the 2021 season was to obtain one 16-car field by the end of the season, and I truly feel that even after only two events, we could meet that goal sooner rather than later,” Crossnoe states.
The PDRA has embraced the idea of giving racers an option to run on slick tires if they want at a high level, and the Pro Street class is already showing plenty of potential and that Outlaw 10.5 racing isn’t dead just yet.