So much for Mickey Thompson's recommendation of racing with tubes. Now, what kind of tubes are we talking about? Francis said Mickey Thompson recommends running a natural rubber tube, and for a couple of reasons.

First, it conforms to the wrinkles of the slick, because modern slicks are all wrinkle-walls.
"That's the secret of a slick working nowadays -- the sidewall wrinkles, and the wrinkles help spring the drag car off the starting line," he explained.

A racer can buy a very inexpensive butyl rubber tube at any K-Mart or tractor shop, and there are some pseudo-racing tubes out there today that have the clamp-down valve stem that do not use natural rubber, Francis says. One way to tell a good racing tube from a bad: its price. "Anytime a tube is cheap, it's not natural rubber. It's just against the laws of business. You just can't find an inexpensive natural rubber tube. It just doesn't exist," he said.

The second reason natural rubber is preferable is that it helps dissipate heat better than butyl rubber. Factor those two considerations in and you'll find that a good rubber racing tube is cheap, plus it's cheap insurance for the slick itself.


What else about a good racing tube? Mickey Thompson also recommends getting a tube with a screw-in clamp that will clamp the valve stem to the wheel. The reason here is that it helps keep the valve stem in place should there be any movement. If there is movement, say, if the wheel spins inside the tire, it will tear that stem off. And because of the low pressure involved in racing with a drag slick, you could suck the valve stem inside the wheel, "and that's obviously not a good thing either," Francis said. A set of wheel screws tapped into the wheel itself and piercing the slick's bead should also be a necessity when racing with slicks, too.


But there is at least one application where you do not want a tube, and that's with a car that is ET-oriented, not built for consistency like for bracket racing. We're referring here to the heads-up racer, maybe the 10.5 guy who is looking for every bit of elapsed time. Francis says for him not to run a tube in this application. "The tube is additional weight that is unsprung, and it will affect the performance of the car -- it's just more weight -- so if that's the case in general, when a guy has evolved to heads-up racing from bracket racing, he'll be watching his air pressure more closely between rounds," he said.

If the tubeless tire leaks down in the garage during the week, the edge of the rim can cause damage to the cords of the tire if it lays on it for any length of time. If a guy has a tire that's going to leak because there's no tube, then he should be putting something underneath the axle, to prevent the wheel from bottoming out on the garage floor.


Okay, so how do we now mount our slicks? Mickey Thompson says to use a dry lubricant like baby powder. Do not use anything liquid, especially something like antifreeze, silicones or petroleum-based lubricants along the bead or inside of the slick, or on the tube itself. "You have to use a dry lubricant, and you do need to have some sort of lubricant there so that the tube does not stick to the tire and it is free to move inside the tire," Francis said. Wet lubricant is out -- it will promote sticking and bonding between the slick and the tube.

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