Autocross is perhaps the best way to enjoy the performance of your car without worrying about safety. These competitions usually take place in large areas with enough space for braking, even if you push really hard. Moreover, autocross driving will let you understand any vehicle better, specifically in terms of handling, acceleration, and braking.
Of course, you will need a good sports car to go to autocross. This sport can be very demanding on vehicles, and even some powerful models perform poorly. What you need is a light and agile car with excellent steering feel, and if possible, adequate acceleration. Remember, it’s all about handling on an autocross course, not about acceleration.
Nevertheless, not even the mightiest sports car will perform well on an autocross course with bad tires. Sure, you can use the tires you already have, but be prepared for a worse experience and much slower times overall. The tires can make a very, very big difference in how your vehicle handles, especially in terms of responsiveness, grip, and traction.
Fortunately, you can find a lot of tires designed for performance driving on the market. From simple high-performance models made for street driving to extreme-performance models made largely for track driving, there is no shortage of options.
Of course, many options aren’t always a good thing. It makes choosing the right set a daunting task. I’ve seen a lot of autocross drivers opting for a set of tires that won’t work for them properly, only because they read a review online. I’ve also seen people that put racing tires on their autocross machines before learning how to drive properly.
Every type of tire has its unique qualities and suits, different drivers. For example, if you race for a living, then proper racing tires are a must. However, if autocross is your hobby, then you might want to purchase tires that will work on the street as well.
Fortunately, we are here to clear things out. In our best autocross tires article, we will give you a carefully selected list of the best models on the market. Furthermore, we will also explain the differences between various types of performance tires and how they will affect your driving. Be sure to check that section before buying – there are some important tips and advice to be found there.
Remember, no tire’s best for every autocross driver, but there is a tire that will work best for you. Now, let’s dig into the matter!
- The 10 Best Autocross Tires for Racing Available in 2020
- Buying Guide For Best Autocross Tires in 2020
- 1. Difference Between Summer and All-Season Tires (Advantages and Disadvantages)
- 2. High-Performance Summer Tires are Good for the Street Only
- 3. Ultra-High-Performance Summer Tires Offer a Nice Balance Between Street and Autocross Performance
- 4. Max-Performance Summer Tires are Excellent on the Street and for Autocross
- 5. Extreme-Performance Tires are the Best Street-Legal Autocross Tires
- 6. Racetrack & Autocross Only Tires are the Best Option for Autocross, But They Aren’t Street Legal
- Final Words
The 10 Best Autocross Tires for Racing Available in 2020
1. Toyo Proxes RR
Best Racetrack & Autocross Tires
The Toyo Proxes RR is the best overall autocross tire, primarily because it’s priced to be affordable to most people. This tire is far cheaper than other racing tires, which is always a good thing in our book.
Fortunately, the performance it offers closely matches the best in the racetrack & autocross category. The tire reaches operating temperatures and keeps giving you grip even in very hot weather.
Moreover, responsiveness is top-notch, while the steering feel is superb. Autocross drivers will be happy to know that the grip and traction levels are exceptionally high, just like on a proper racing tire.
That said, the Toyo Proxes RR isn’t approved for highway use.
2. Hoosier A7
Best Racetrack & Autocross Tires
The Hoosier A7 is one of the most popular autocross tires among enthusiasts and for a good reason. This tire is already proven on race tracks around the world, and also on autocross racing tournaments.
The A7 model has a softer and stickier tread compound than the R7, which in our opinion makes it a better choice for autocross. This tire quickly achieves the operating temperature and works tremendously well even when very hot.
When it comes to handling, you can expect outstanding responsiveness, excellent steering feel, and super-high levels of grip and traction. This tire sticks to the road like few others. It’s a racing tire after all.
That being said, the Hoosier A7 isn’t approved for highway use. Also, the price of the A7 is much higher than that of the Toyo Proxes RR.
3. Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R
Best Extreme-Performance Summer Tires for Autocross
The Potenza RE-71R is the best tire for autocross drivers that also want to use it on the street. It’s no coincidence that many enthusiasts swear on the RE-71R – it’s outstanding in every way.
On an autocross course, this tire will give you exceptionally high levels of grip and traction. Moreover, the responsiveness is among the best we tried overall, while the steering feel is sublime. You will definitely have a great time on the Potenza.
The best thing about this tire is that it’s also usable on the road, even on slightly wet surfaces. That said, like most Potenza’s, the price is a bit steep.
4. Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3
Best Extreme-Performance Summer Tires for Autocross
The Eagle F1 Supercar 3 is an exceptional tire in almost every way, but only when you reach its operating temperature. For street driving that’s not an issue, but be sure to warm the tires before autocross driving.
When the Eagle F1 Supercar 3 reaches operating temperatures, magic happens. This tire is exceptionally responsive, and it communicates with the driver very well. Moreover, grip and traction are outstanding, giving you a lot of confidence to push the car to the limits.
The tire works excellently on the street as well, provided you drive carefully in big puddles of water.
5. Toyo Proxes R1-R
Best Extreme-Performance Summer Tires for Autocross
Another Toyo tire on our list, and another one that punches well above its weight in terms of performance. This is one of the cheapest high-quality extreme-performance tires, which also works excellently for autocross driving.
On the track, the Proxes R1-R will provide you with exceptionally high levels of grip and traction, razor-sharp responses, excellent steering feel, and outstanding high-speed stability. Unlike its racing brother, the RR, this model works on the street and even has usable wet traction.
That said, the ride is stiff, especially over rough patches on the road. Still, this is a small price to pay for the performance on offer.
6. Falken Azenis RT615K+
Extreme Performance Summer for Enthusiasts, from the track to the street
The Azenis RT615K+ is another tire that doesn’t cost a fortune, yet offers excellent performance throughout.
On an autocross course, the Azenis proves to be supremely responsive, while also providing the driver with excellent steering feel and superior controllability at the limit.
Moreover, this tire offers outstandingly high levels of grip in the corners, and excellent traction during hard acceleration. High-speed stability is also among the best in the category.
The Azenis RT615K+ is DOT-approved for use on the road, which is great news. However, the tire isn’t at its best over wet surfaces, especially during heavy rain.
7. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
Best Max-Performance Summer Tires for Autocross
The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S is the best max-performance summer tire for enthusiast drivers. This tire works equally well on the track and on the street, which makes it an excellent all-in-one solution.
Apart from the steep price, there is almost no fault with the Pilot Sport 4S. The tire is supremely responsive and controllable at the limit, and it provides an outstanding steering feel.
As usual for a Pilot Sport tire, the traction and grip levels are outstanding. Moreover, this tire works amazingly well over wet surfaces – it even has excellent hydroplaning resistance.
And, the best thing about the Pilot Sport 4S is that it comes with a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty. No other company provides a treadwear warranty on their summer performance tires!
8. Bridgestone Potenza RE050
Best Max-Performance Summer Tires for Autocross
The Bridgestone Potenza RE050 is a joyful tire, both on the street and an autocross circuit. This tire has razor-sharp responses and provides the driver with a lot of information from the road.
As expected, the RE050 also offers outstandingly high levels of grip and traction, strong braking, and excellent high-speed stability. You will certainly enjoy autocross driving with a set of RE050’s.
The Potenza RE050 also works over wet surfaces, even in heavier rain. That being said, Bridgestone doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty, and the tire can be noisy over rough surfaces.
9. Continental ContiSport Contact 5
Max-Performance Summer Tires with outstanding handling and control
The ContiSport Contact 5 is another outstanding max-performance tire and one that works exceptionally well on the street.
Despite the performance credentials, the Contact 5 has a low-rolling-resistance compound, which can improve the fuel economy of your car by 1-2mpg.
Thankfully, the tire doesn’t suffer on an autocross course because of that. Actually, it is super responsive and achieves very high levels of grip and traction. Also, this might be the best max-performance summer tire for driving over wet surfaces.
That said, Continental doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty on the tire.
10. Firestone Firehawk Indy 500
Best Ultra-High-Performance Summer Tires for Autocross
The Firehawk Indy 500 is an already proven ultra-high-performance summer tire that works outstandingly well on the street, especially when you consider the price.
The Indy 500 feels light on its feet and has razor-sharp responses, while also providing the driver with very high levels of grip and traction. High-speed stability is another area where this tire excels, while wet traction is comparable to the best premium tires.
Overall, the Indy 500 might not dethrone the premium competition in the sector, but we think that it’s one of the best ultra-high-performance tires for the price. It’s great for amateur autocross driving, too!
Buying Guide For Best Autocross Tires in 2020
1. Difference Between Summer and All-Season Tires (Advantages and Disadvantages)
Before we start explaining about the various performance tires available today, let’s first clear some things out. In recent times, many manufacturers launched ultra-high-performance all-season tires, and for a good reason.
That way, the companies can offer drivers of performance sedans, coupes, and crossovers one set of tires that will work throughout the year. These tires work very well in warmer and colder conditions and provide the driver with excellent highway stability thanks to the higher speed ratings when compared to touring or grand-touring tires.
Nevertheless, all-season tires, regardless of the type, won’t work very well on an autocross course.
All-Season Performance Tires
The single reason why all-season tires don’t work for autocross is the tread compound itself. In these tires, the rubber compound is designed to remain hard at hot temperatures and pliable at freezing temperatures. That way, the driver will have safe traction, grip, and stability regardless of the climate conditions.
However, the all-season tread compound is a big compromise when it comes to outright performance. The rubber on all-season tires is still softer than on a summer tire, which hurts responsiveness. This also damages the steering feel, which is very important for successful autocross driving.
On top of that, the tread compound on all-season tires isn’t very sticky. These models are designed to be durable – you will cover more miles with them. As a result of that, the tread pattern on all-season tires is harder. When compared to a proper summer tire, the tread on an all-season tire will feel almost plasticky.
The hard tread doesn’t offer high levels of grip and traction. Sure, some modern ultra-high-performance models will perform greatly on the street, but they are far from the best choice for driving on a racetrack.
Now, don’t get us wrong – ultra-high-performance all-season tires are still a great choice for performance cars. It’s just that they won’t work for autocross driving at all.
Summer Performance Tires
Summer tires are the best choice for autocross driving. The tread compound on these tires is stickier, yet the whole tire is stiffer. This combination of qualities will give you far more responsive handling, excellent steering feel, and better performance overall.
With a set of summer tires on your car, you will experience much higher levels of traction during acceleration. Moreover, the grip in the corners will be superior when compared to all-season tires. And, contrary to popular opinion, summer tires are better in the rain as well.
That being said, summer tires don’t last very long, primarily due to the softer and stickier tread compound. While an all-season performance tire might last around 50,000-miles, a summer one will only last 20,000-miles.
Also, summer tires aren’t usable in freezing temperatures, especially over wet surfaces, snow, and ice. Not that you will encounter these conditions on an autocross run, but still.
2. High-Performance Summer Tires are Good for the Street Only
High-performance summer tires are the entry-level models for driving enthusiasts. These tires are mostly designed for street driving and offer good responsiveness, very good highway stability, and excellent traction and grip.
However, these tires aren’t designed for very aggressive autocross driving and won’t provide you with the necessary grip and traction. High-performance summer tires are a great choice for enthusiast drivers that want better street handling, but not for autocross drivers.
3. Ultra-High-Performance Summer Tires Offer a Nice Balance Between Street and Autocross Performance
The next in line are ultra-high-performance tires. These models are a step above in terms of performance when compared to normal high-performance tires. They are much more responsive and offer a better steering feel, which translates into a much more enjoyable driving experience.
As expected, ultra-high-performance summer tires also offer higher levels of grip and traction, which further enhances performance driving. High-speed stability is also excellent here – your car will feel planted even above 100mph.
That being said, while ultra-high-performance summer tires might be good for autocross beginners, they are far from usable for experienced drivers. If you’re serious about autocross driving, you might find that these tires lack in almost every aspect. In other words, they are still more focused on street driving.
4. Max-Performance Summer Tires are Excellent on the Street and for Autocross
This is where things become interesting for autocross drivers. In my opinion, max-performance tires are an excellent choice for entry-level autocross drivers or anyone that mostly uses their vehicle on the street.
Namely, max-performance tires are vastly more responsive than ultra-high-performance tires and offer a much better steering feel. As expected, you will see a rise in grip, better traction of the line, and stronger braking. Max-performance tires feel much more planted at higher velocities as well.
To sum things up, if you don’t compete on an autocross course and only do that for a hobby, max-performance tires might be an excellent choice. They will give you that enjoyable driving experience, without sacrificing on-road performance and safety.
5. Extreme-Performance Tires are the Best Street-Legal Autocross Tires
This is where things become serious for autocross drivers. Extreme-performance summer tires are the best street-legal autocross tires. Therefore, if you want one set of tires for autocross and street driving, extreme-performance models are by far the best choice.
These tires are a joy to drive on a racetrack, on a twisty mountain road, or an autocross course. The responsiveness they offer is razor-sharp, while the steering feel is sublime. I am on autocross driver myself, but I can confirm that extreme-performance summer tires will put a smile on your face when turning into every corner.
The best thing about extreme-performance tires is that they also work outstandingly well on the road. You can enjoy them absolutely everywhere – not only on the autocross course, even over wet surfaces.
6. Racetrack & Autocross Only Tires are the Best Option for Autocross, But They Aren’t Street Legal
If you want the best autocross experience, look no further than racetrack & autocross tires. These models are specifically designed for driving on the racetrack and therefore, they will provide you with the best responsiveness and steering feel.
Moreover, these tires have exceptionally high levels of grip and traction. The tread compound on these tires is very sticky, and it has almost no tread pattern, apart from some circumferential grooves. With a set of racetrack & autocross tires on your car, you will post by far the best times.
That being said, these tires can’t be used on the street. First of all, they aren’t legal – expect costly penalties if you’re caught with these tires. Then, they are also not useful over wet surfaces, primarily due to the lack of a significant tread pattern.
To sum it up, these tires are only useful for experienced autocross drivers, or anyone ready to replace the tires every time he/she visits an autocross course.
As you can see from the list above, we mostly included high-quality tires from reputable manufacturers. There is a reason for that – we are yet to find cheap performance tires that work great for autocross. Moreover, not many manufacturers of cheap tires even dare to produce models designed for performance driving.
The most important thing, though, is to always choose tires that will work for you. Nobody else knows better than you, not even tire experts. Think of how much you will use these tires on the street, and how much you will use them for autocross driving. Then, make a decision based on your needs.
That way, you will achieve more on the track, without sacrificing other qualities that might be beneficial to you. And, above all, have fun!