This isn't going to be some long history lesson on Mickey Thompson tires, but it's about time we discuss the fact that over the last 20 years, Mickey Thompson has completely changed the face of drag racing.
If we take a moment to look back at the mid 90's what you would see in drag racing outside the NHRA was drag radial racing in it's infancy, outlaw 10.5 was huge, pro street was still huge, and we had NMCA, FFW, and other series to follow. What we also saw were companies like BFG, Hoosier, M&H, and M/T, all at the track on these race cars.
Mickey Thompson, to me was the king of 10.5 and they had the great E.T. Drag and E.T. Street tires, before the E.T. Street was a radial. The E.T. Street is what you ran if you wanted to need and had to run a DOT approved tire. These tires would go on to absolutely dominate, as most of us remember that they just seemed to be a slick with grooves in it. There were also tires from Hoosier and M&H that people would use, but M/T was the king when it came to those tires.
As we entered the 2000's radial was becoming a thing that a lot of racers wanted to do. The issue was in reality you had two tire manufactures to go with for street and strip if it was a true radial. Those companies were BFG of course, who had been the front runner for years in this catergory, and Nitto with their 555r tire. While both were excellent street style tire, let's face it, they were never going to take radial racing to the next level.
Somewhere around 2004 if memory serves me correctly (and if not I know you will all correct me) Mickey Thompson came out with their drag radial tire and it was a huge shot fired. It didn't take long for everyone from 12 second street cars to 7 second race cars to bolt a pair of these on and run new personal bests every time out.
As the tire technology grew and people started to understand how to use them, the ET's plummeted. Prior to their release, BFG was king of the mountain and no one ever came close to the radial performance they were accomplishing. That was all tossed out in short time when Mickey Thompson's radial came out. All of a sudden we were talking about going faster and quicker.
Progressing through the 2000's, there was a rapid growth in street style racing within organizations, along with the demand from customers to have a tire that they could go to cruise nights with. I was in fact one of those people too with my '98 Mustang 2V. I wanted a tire that could perform on the track, but that I could drive to work on as well. I had already run the Nitto 555r and the BFG on my car before Mickey Thompson's radial came out. That tire changed everything for me, as well as a lot of my friends running either on the street and/or in classes offered by the NMRA, NMCA, FFW, etc. This new tire was as mysterious to us as turbos were to people in the early 90's. We knew right away that this tire was different, and we saw it in the ET's we were seeing.
As the 00's came to a close we had already seen Dave Hance become the first ever radial tire car to run 6's in the quarter mile. Less than a decade prior to that, 8 second runs were a jaw dropping thing on a radial and now we were in the 6's. It wasn't until 2002 that we saw an 8 second pass by Chris Little and our first 7 second pass was in January of 2004 by one of the radial originals Dwayne Gutridge, both of which were on a BFG. This was a realm that no one thought was ever possible. What would come only 7 years later would put everyone back in their seats again though. It couldn't happen they said. No one is insane enough to do it they said. The tire can't do it they said. They were all wrong!
Moving away from radial for a moment, what we also continued to see was that Mickey Thompson Tires was continuing to build on it's success and bring out new and improved products. We saw 26" stiff sidewall slicks running in the 9 second range in NMRA Real Street. These were guys that would absolutely punish a tire and the M/T could handle every ounce of it. We saw NMCA Extreme Street cars on a 29" tire tearing up tracks all over the country as well. The big thing was still Outlaw 10.5 and depending on who ya ask, Dave Hance was the first in 3's in the eighth mile. Either way, whoever you say did it first, they did that on a Mickey Thompson tire as well. There was nothing out there that Mickey Thompson tire wasn't dominating during the 2000's with the exception of Pro Mod.
This didn't seem to be an area that the company was concentrating on at the time though. That all changed when they came on board with one of the greatest door car drivers in history. Mickey Thompson came on board with Billy Glidden, whom everyone in drag racing knows as one of the greats in our sport. Billy had been testing and working with M/T for quite sometime on their tire technology when it came to Pro Mods. Everything really changed when Jonathan Gray showed up driving the Precision Turbo Camaro in Gainesville last year for the NHRA Pro Mod season opener. It was right then that the Camaro broke the ET World Record and came close to breaking the MPH World Record. That was on a Mickey Thompson tire as well. A class previously dominated by Hoosier, now had been put on notice that Mickey Thompson was the one to be reckoned with and was now the world record holder.
Last year wasn't the only record that Mickey Thompson claimed though. Towards the end of the year, there was a race called World Cup Finals in Maryland. This would be the spot where in my mind the world stopped for a moment in time. Then a couple more times that weekend too. And it was all because of Kevin Fiscus and Josh Klugger.
Those two guys have been teammates for quite sometime, and both are very well accomplished. No one thought that anyone would be crazy enough to try and run faster and quicker than Roger Holder had gone in his Orange Camaro on a radial tire. And especially not anywhere on the east coast. Well then there is Kevin, in the RaceCraft built Klugger owned (and normally driven) fox body Mustang. Kevin decided to shock the world on the Mickey Thompson tires, and become the first human being to run a drag radial car in the five second zone and he broke 250 mph. These were things that no one thought possible and if they were that it would only happen in Vegas. Well, as usual Mickey Thompson Tires proved again that they are the undisputed king of kings in everything that is small tire and some that is big tire.
There is not a time in the last 20 years that we haven't been talking about Mickey Thompson in the drag racing world. As a drag racing community we see things come and go. Fads, technology, companies, and even records, yet Mickey Thompson has managed to not only stick around, they have managed to continuously change the course of drag racing history with their technology and dedication to the sport. Looking back on the last 20 years, I can't wait to see what drag racing and Mickey Thompson bring us in the next 20 years. Look at where we were and where we are now. A really big reason for that is because of Mickey Thompson Tires and the employees that work there.