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Slicks-Starting When?


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#1 desmo

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 06:04

The question arose over on the Tech Forum. From what little I could gather, Goodyear was the first to "produce" them in 1964 after trials with Don Garlits and Mickey Thompson. I wonder if anyone here can shed any light on the matter?

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 10:32

I was reading about drag racing slicks when I first started to buy magazines... strangely enough the first ones I bought were Hot Rod Magazine!
Anyway, there were definitely slicks then, and it was the October, 1961 issue (to check that, Pete Robinson was reported as winning the Nationals...). M & H had even passed the retreading stage, from memory, and were making complete tyres.
As for true slicks in road racing, a recent article in Motor Sport put this at late 1970 or early 1971, and commented on how quietly it came about...
Going back, however, the intermediate stage (as it seems to me) was the very lightly treaded tyres at Indy, which it seems to me were there before 1963. I say this because I recall well the tyres Bruce McLaren brought (Firestones) out for the Tasman Cup races of 1965. They were very close to slicks...
You'll find more in magazines, of course, but that would be a rough timetable on things.

#3 Racer.Demon

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 11:46

On pictures of the 1970 Mexican GP the cars still have lightly (sometimes almost invisibly) treaded tyres, while at the start of 1971, at Kyalami, everyone is on slicks. This is also the case for the non-championship Argentine GP, run in January of the year.

So, yes, 1971 seems to be the F1's debut season for slicks, with development probably starting late 1970.


#4 Don Capps

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 13:43

Ray remembers well. The tires that M&H were making for dragsters pioneered both slicks and the "wide" tires now taken for granted. And it was 1961 that they got their first real successes -- although they started working on them in 1958. By 1962 they were standard equipment on the AA/Fuel rails and similar cars in the NHRA.

Don't forget that the Firestones used at Indy for years only had three grooves on the right edge of an otherwise slick tire. Later Goodyear & Firestone tires for the Champ Cars had very shallow thread and were virtually slicks. There was a Dunlop type produced about 1968 or 1969 that was slick except for a being covered by a bunch of "x's" on the tire.



#5 desmo

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 19:23

Thank you all.

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 20:18

Don, I was going to mention that Dunlop... was it the CR82? I recall seeing it on some Minis, but I couldn't put a year to it.
Another thing to recall is that there were two very serious contenders for GP honours when the breakthrough came.. Dunlop and Goodyear. Firestone had by then fallen out of the race. Dunlop were about to...

#7 Dennis David

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 06:25

We had slicks on our old Rambler back in '58. But then again we didn't have a lot of money for new tires!

#8 Barry Lake

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 07:47

Australian touring car driver Bruce McPhee (winner of Bathurst's The Great Race in 1968) had a 1957-58 FE Holden that he raced in the very early 1960s.
He discovered that his Michelin X road tyres worked better the less tread they had on them, so he took it to the extreme and ran them without tread. He was faster still. So he then used only other people's worn out tyres on which to race. He went faster and saved money at the same time.
Rival drivers used to laugh about it (apparently unaware he was soundly beating them) and the scrutineers gave him a hard time. He only used treaded tyres when the track was wet.
It was years before "the rest" caught on to the idea.
Perhaps he should have patented the slick tyre instead of spending so much time and money trying to design better shipping pallets (which he did).
He was - and is - a very clever and practical "original thinker".[p][Edited by Barry Lake on 10-30-2000]

#9 Barry Lake

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 07:49

I wonder where Lyn Meredith is?
Having worked in the race tyre business, he should have some good information to add here.

#10 dbw

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Posted 01 November 2000 - 08:17

theT35 debut bugatti team at lyon all were shod with straight side 20" dunlops that were unquestionably slicks.check it out...

#11 desmo

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Posted 01 November 2000 - 09:06

Here are the T35s at Lyon.

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I'll look for a better picture.

#12 desmo

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Posted 01 November 2000 - 09:20

This is better and is definitely 1924:

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Are those slicks? Could be![p][Edited by desmo on 11-01-2000]

#13 lynmeredith

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Posted 01 November 2000 - 10:02

Originally posted by Barry Lake
I wonder where Lyn Meredith is?
Having worked in the race tyre business, he should have some good information to add here.


I'm back Barry. Trouble is I can't remember much and have no references from those days in the 60s when I was at Goodyear. I do remember that we tried tyres that were 'near slick' with a small number of 'razor-blade' grooves (sipes)scattered sparsely over the tyre surface. This must have been before 1969. These were fewer and 'slicker' than the Indy tyres of the time.
In fact we often produced treadless tyres in the factory and cut a tread pattern on them by hand (whew!) but these tended to be used in testing at Goodwood. Goodyear's European racing operation was very small at that time and we could not afford to make experimental moulds/molds for tyres that might only be used once, so hand-cutting was often used, with the tread pattern sprayed onto the tyre using an aerosol paint can and stencil. An electrically heated tread cutter was then used to cut the pattern in. We also would cut extra grooves into 'intermediate' tyres for use on wet tracks.
Now if only Fred Gamble were on the group...Or Leo Mehl..Or Walt Devinney.
Lyn

#14 Barry Lake

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Posted 01 November 2000 - 12:09

Thanks Lyn for that interesting insight.
Speaking of the Bugattis with "slicks" reminded me of a beautiful little book I bought earlier this year via the Internet called The History of the Pneumatic Tyre. It sounded boring, but turned out to be extremely informative and even beautifully presented.

It explained that, at one period in the early days of the motor car and pneumatic tyres, there were laws decreeing that tyres could not have tread. The governments and councils apparently believed that treaded tyres would tear up the roads.

Not long ago I did a lot of research and a story on tyres in the very early days of motor racing but this revolved mainly around the frequency of punctures and the various means of coping with it - spare wheels, split rims, demountable rims, centre-lock wheels, and the rapid development of the tyres themselves.
I had stopped my research before the era of sealed race circuits so did not come across any reference to treadless tyres such as those on the Type 35 Bugattis.
It would be interesting to know what their thinking was at the time.