Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
August 16, 2016

A tire’s rubber compound is a well thought and engineered recipe for a tire to provide road holding traction. However, get a tire hot enough via high rpm spinning of the vehicle’s axle and the tire becomes soft and sticky, transferring some of its rubber to the road or track surface. This, in a nutshell, is why a drag racer does a burnout. These 10-30 second smoke shows at the starting line are meant to get the tire hot, soft, and leave some rubber on the ground (rubber on rubber has more traction than rubber on cement) to allow the car to launch with a minimum of tire spin. That said, for some people in the stands, the burnout is their favorite part of the sport.

Taking it a step further is the burnout competition. You’ll see it play out at major events all over the world where cars with insane horsepower burn their tires down, usually until the belt separates or the tire carcass fails with much fanfare. Some of the most insane burnout competitions happen in Australia (just check out YouTube and prepare to be amazed), but that’s not to say we don’t have some good old red-white-and blue fun stateside with our tires! Check out Carlisle’s Ford Nationals, any NMRA event, and so forth and you’ll no doubt see Ford fans doing their best to annihilate the tires on their Mustangs.

The 3.7L V-6 actually did pretty well in the burnout competition, highlighted by these colored tires.
Though things took a turn for the worse at the end when his rear brakes caught on fire…

At the 2016 AmericanMuscle show, held on Saturday August 13th, 2016, four competitors braved the extreme heat to show the crowds what it means to do a killer burnout. The competitors featured a 3.7L V-6 S197, a 5.0L S197, a V-8 Fox, and a 5.0L SN95. They all came up to the line ready to smoke ’em with old tires on the rear ready to give up their remaining treadwear in the name of cheering crowds and a trophy!

The 3.7L V-6 went first and was a little weak out of the gate, but once the owner got the Mustang to take a set the rear tires went up in colored smoke courtesy of its Highway Max Tyres (not so surprisingly, also from Australia!). Sadly, the V-6 wasn’t equipped with a line lock device and he toasted his brake rotors to the point of setting the rear pads on fire (check out the video!) and overheating the engine, but it was a great effort none-the-less. After being pushed off the starting line the next player was the black 5.0 S197. He held a good line and made some decent smoke with little drama, but drama is part of getting the crowd amped up and when the left rear tire’s belt exited stage left, taking the bumper cover parking light with it, the crowd appreciated it for sure.

On the bottom half of the competition ladder was the Fox Mustang and the SN95 convertible. The Fox Mustang went into the competition with one purpose—to pop at least one tire. He was going for broke with his Fox drag car setup. No hood, old rubber, and a line lock got the job done. Lastly, the SN95 convertible, wearing some old steel Jeep wheels with a set of colored Highway Max tires as well, got off to a bad start by driving through the front brakes, but he was allowed to back up and get the car reposition and his second try was outstanding, setting up for the eventual win of the burnout contest.

…and he overheated his engine.
At one point the cement launch pad of the dragstrip got so hot from the tire heat, the cement exploded, creating this small crater!
The black S197 didn’t use colored smoke tires, but it still put on a great smoke show for the crowd.
The left rear tire’s belt separated, popping the bumper cover loose, knocking the marker light out.
The Fox Mustang certainly made a valiant effort, shredding both tires, and the owner went for the bonus points by getting the crowd to cheer for him.
The Fox’s rear tires were barely able to hold air by the time he was done with them!
The final entry, the SN95 convertible, rocked the house with a great burnout!
As the SN95 pulled forward out of the burnout area there was burning rubber on the track!
The winner of the 2016 AmericanMuscle burnout competition.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery