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Matching tires to a changing track surface

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  • Matching tires to a changing track surface

    When I first built my wood track, I tried both silicones (not Quick Slicks ) and PG urethanes. The urethanes were clearly faster. Recently began racing 1/24 trucks with my wife on H&R chassis with silicones and noticed that they were surprisingly sticky. So I ordered some Quick Slicks for a couple of my cars. Wow! Track surface is painted with latex floor paint which has a satin to semi-gloss finish. I took a closer look at the racing lanes and observed that they were now significantly smoother than the runoff areas. So I did a lateral finger nudge test (highly unscientific😄 ) using one model with each tire type on each area. The urethanes were better on the slightly rough runoff areas while the silicones were superior in the racing lanes. Very interesting to see how the surface has changed after a few thousand laps. I’ll need to do some more long term testing before deciding whether to switch all of my cars to silicones. Great fun learning these things for a newbie like me.
    Last edited by Mickey thumbs; January 29, 2020, 10:01 PM.
    Mike V.
    Western North Carolina

  • #2
    If you continued to use PG tires, they would seed the track and the grip will get better and better without worries about dust. But seeing as you went with a satin semi gloss, Sillies may be better given they like smooth surfaces. I’ve found urethane respond better to flat matte latex paint FWIW.
    Founding member of Rocky Mountain Racers, a 1/32 club based in Calgary, Alberta Canada:
    Canada’s Tourist Trophy Event Founder and Organizer:


    • #3
      they say you should not mismatch tires. stick with one type and run. you can run rubber tires and urethane with latter being a little looser, silicones will pull up any rubber or urethane that may have been laid down on the track, ak rubbering in the track. but with that said sillys will last forever unlike rubber or urethane tires that will dry out if not used. silicones work best on a clean dust free track were the other two will work on dusty track but all work best when the track is clean....
      THE other Vancouver aka Vancouver Washington across the river from keep Portland weird....
      Member NASTE (Northwest Association of Slot Track Enthusiasts)


      • #4
        We run silicone coated sponge tires and the grip is superb........ It is semi gloss latex finish. ......... Wiped with a tack cloth weekly........ No liquid cleaner of any kind is used.......... There is a layer of silicone/rubber laid all the way around the track and it stays there and tires do not pick it up.

        I have several cars with urethane tires on original wheels........... I do attempt to run them sometimes, but they cannot be run at full speed as they just won't grip the silicone coated track.
        This is in keeping with what guys post on the forum.......... Whichever type of tire you use, you will get your track rubbered in and that type of rubber will grip but any other will be loose.

        No mixing of tires is kind of taken for granted........... I think if we ran only urethane tires, the story would be the same, silicones wouldn't grip on a layer of urethane built up on the track........

        With the great supply of urethane for 1/32 rtr's,,,,,,, I would sure use them over silicone if running 1/32.

        I guess because we remove dust with a tack cloth, we really have no issues with tires getting dusty and not gripping......We keep a spray bottle of water/alcohol and a wash cloth that we wet with the spray and just roll a car over it before it gets raced.
        Matt B
        So. In


        • #5
          Om my super smooth 'dirt' oval routed on Masonite (hardboard) silicone tires are ideal but do best on a clean track. Silicone coated foam tires are the the very best and it doesn't seem to matter if the track has been cleaned or not. These are mostly very wide (1") tires from ProTrack. Expensive at around $12 a pair on metal wheels but pointless to be on the track without them if allowed in a series.

          The fact that tire choices matter in slot car racing is something I like since it adds another level of realism related to full size race cars.


          • #6
            Silicones work best on a glossy track surface. But they are prone to pick up dust. Sponge silicones are the worst for that. They'll find dust even on a freshly cleaned track. You'll need to stop and clean them frequently until they've picked their lane clean.

            When trying to decide what level of gloss I needed to paint my track I tried testing silicones on a glossy surface -- a piece of glass. I just put the car on the glass and tried pushing it sideways with my finger. The silicones got so much grip that the leading edge of the tire rolled under the car rather than slide. If I continued to push the tire would snap back and the car would hop. That convinced me of two things: gloss paint would be great for silicones, and I should round the edges of my tires so they'd not roll under and cause my car to hop.

            Ed Bianchi
            Ed Bianchi
            York Pennsylvania USA


            • #7
              Most of the 1/32nd wood tracks that I have raced on were finished with regular flat latex paint, but Area 51 uses a gloss epoxy finish. I have never noticed any difference in grip with silicone tires. A couple of the tracks with latex paint got an added coat of clear satin polyurethane in several places, the grip on that is slightly better.


              • #8
                Thanks for all the comments. I found it very interesting how the surface got worn smooth over the course of a year and the silicones work so much better than they did when I first tried them. Just fun to discover this sort of thing. I’ve changed all 20+ cars over to Quick Slicks and have logged lap times 5-10% faster than my previous best on the urethanes. That’s 0.2-0.4 secs on my 40 foot layout. The Trackmate lady doesn’t lie! Lots of fun during a cold, rainy week.
                Ed, I rolled a tire half off the rim going around a corner during testing. First time that has happened to me. So I will be glueing them and rounding the outer edges 😄
                Mike V.
                Western North Carolina


                • #9
                  These are the tires I was talking about above. Super sticky, so much so they're hard to get out of the plastic baggie they come in. I didn't know if they made anything like this for HO cars. These are 1/32 or 1/24 scale for and cost $15 a pair at Professor Motor.

                  Pro-Track PTs250 0.850" Diameter Silicone Coated "Daytona Stockers" Tires 1/8" Axle