Reviews | The Drive

Best Autocross Tires: Bring on the Cones!

Get a grip on the competition.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on all things automotive.

youtubefacebookinstagram

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BYMark Webb/ August 8, 2022

I learned about autocross tires the hard way. Halfway into my third ever autocross run, my all-seasons and I plowed straight through a tight left corner. Fortunately, I didn’t damage my VW Golf, but those little orange cones never had a chance.  


A great set of tires makes one of the biggest differences in how your car performs at an autocross event. The most popular category of tires is the Super 200s which are track-focused yet can still be driven on the street. These tires are competitive for club-sponsored events like autocross, time trials, and even some endurance events. They also won’t drain your bank account.


Best of all, they are well-matched for street cars, which means they are well-matched for the skills of the average amateur racer. That’s not to say these tires won’t keep you from mowing down orange cones, but for a weekend warrior using their weekday car, they are the best autocross tires.

Best Overall

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

Summary
Standard equipment on many high-performance sports cars, these tires are the gold standard for amateur events.
Pros
  • Bi-compound maximizes contact patch
  • Excellent grip with precise handling
  • Measurably faster than most other tires
Cons
  • Pricey 
  • Prone to oversteer in the wet
Best Value

Falken AZENIS RT660

Summary
An inexpensive tire that offers good performance. Ideal for someone who wants to get started in amateur events.
Pros
  • Low cost 
  • Sharp steering response
  • Excellent lateral grip
  • Forgiving contact patch allows for mid-corner corrections
Cons
  • Needs warmup time
  • Performance specs not as good as others
Honorable Mention

Yokohama ADVAN A052

Summary
Possibly the best choice for one-lap events. Consistently fast on dry and wet pavement
Pros
  • Delivers the fastest dry lap times
  • Little to no warm-up time required
  • Excellent lateral and longitudinal grip
  • Impressive all-around performance
Cons
  • Steering is a bit vague
  • Prone to heat soak
Best Autocross Tires: Bring on the Cones!
Bridgestone

Summary List 

Honorable Mention: Yokohama ADVAN A052

Best Updated/Improved: Bridgestone RE-71RS

Best for Consistency: BFGoodrich G-FORCE RIVAL S 1.5

Best Track Only: Hoosier R7

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Our Methodology

Most experienced racers already have a tire preference. With that in mind, I approached this article from the standpoint of someone relatively new to the world of autocross. My knowledge about tires comes from a combination of experience and research. When in doubt, I tread lightly and seek out expert advice. My go-to resources are TireRack.com, which has a great mix of test data and individual reviews, and Grassroots Motorsports, which has a wealth of information for amateur racing. I leveraged all of these resources to compile this list of the best autocross tires.       

Best Autocross Tires Reviews & Recommendations

The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires may be the obvious pick, but there’s a reason why so many people use them in autocross events. Simply put, these tires offer the best grip and precise handling of anything road legal. That’s why cars like the Ferrari 458 Speciale, Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe Black Series, and Porsche 918 Spyder use them as standard equipment. Michelin's bi-compound technology makes these tires stand out because it uses two different rubber compounds for the inboard and outboard tread. The bi-compound technology combines with Michelin’s Variable Contact Patch technology to optimize the tire’s contact patch. The result is better grip everywhere, including tight and transitioning corners on an autocross course. The only real downside to these tires is the price. You’ll pay $100 to $150 more per tire than other tires on this list. But you are getting a noticeable improvement in performance. Grassroots Motorsports compared the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 with the Bridgestone RE-71R using a McLaren 720S on a club-style track. They found that the Pilot Sport Cup 2s were two seconds faster than the Bridgestones.

Specs

  • UTQG: 240/AA/A
  • Max Inflation: 50 psi
  • Tread Depth: 7.2/32 inch

Pros

  • Bi-compound maximizes contact patch
  • Excellent grip with precise handling
  • Measurably faster than most other tires

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Prone to oversteer in wet conditions

Specs

  • UTQG: 200/A/A
  • Max Inflation: 51 psi
  • Tread Depth: 8/32 inch

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Sharp steering response
  • Excellent lateral grip
  • Forgiving contact patch allows for mid-corner corrections

Cons

  • Needs warmup time
  • Performance specs not as good as others

Falken’s AZENIS RT660 offers the best performance among lower-priced tires. That may sound like I’m damning them with faint praise, but that’s not the case. Performance is on par with the original Bridgestone RS-71R and BFG G-FORCE RIVAL. The response is excellent, but not quite as razor-sharp as the Michelin Pilots. However, it’s a very forgiving tire, allowing you to make mid-corner corrections and making it ideal for novice drivers. The compound needs to warm up before getting the best results, but once there can handle repeated lapping without fading from heat soak. With the Azenis RT660 Falken once again demonstrates why it should receive consideration when you’re looking at tires. On paper, they aren’t quite as good as other tires in this category. But racing isn’t done on paper. You’ll be competitive if you stick these tires on a lightweight, good-handling car like a Miata or Subaru BRZ, and you’ll still have money in the bank.

Specs

  • UTQG: 200/A/A
  • Max Inflation: 51 psi
  • Tread Depth: 7/32 inch

Pros

  • Delivers the fastest dry lap times in this category
  • Little to no warm-up time required
  • Excellent lateral and longitudinal grip
  • Impressive all-around performance

Cons

  • Steering is a bit vague
  • Prone to heat soak

A wise philosopher once said, “opinions vary.” Or maybe that was Patrick Swayze in “Roadhouse.” Either way, depending on who you ask, it’s either the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 or the Yokohama ADVAN A052. The ADVAN A052 is a relative newcomer but deserves a spot at the head of the table. It’s just about perfect for autocross events. Sticky right out of the gate, easy to drive quickly, and it puts down impressive lap times. Wet weather performance is impressive too. Where it falls short of the Michelin Pilot is heat soak. The ADVAN A052 starts to fade after 2-3 laps. That’s not much of an issue for autocross events, and aside from that issue, it’s hard to beat.

Specs

  • UTQG: 200/A/A
  • Max Inflation: 51 psi
  • Tread Depth: 7/32 inch

Pros

  • Impressive lateral grip
  • Excellent wet weather performance
  • Accurate and communicative feel in corners

Cons

  • Better suited to road courses than autocross
  • Numb on center feel

The RE-71RS is an update of the original RE-71R with improved lateral grip and wet track performance. It retains the directional tread design that made the previous version so communicative and accurate but now has improved treadwear. In a recent Tire Rack test, it scored slightly behind the Yokohama ADVAN A052 overall but was noticeably improved over the RE-71R. Where the new RE-71RS takes a step back is in autocross performance. The old tire excelled at providing excellent control on small, tight courses, while the new tire seems more suited for track days. The new tire also feels a bit numb on-center but the feel improves nicely when cornering. The Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RS is a contender on a road course and might be as good as the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, especially considering the wet weather performance. It’s also a capable tire for autocross but not the best choice.

Specs

  • UTQG: 200/AA/A
  • Max Inflation: 44 psi
  • Tread Depth: 7.2/32 inch

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Great stability and control
  • Good consistency and feel

Cons

  • Requires a warm-up
  • Lack the feel or grip of other tires
  • Not as fast as the leaders

There used to be a serious debate between the old Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R and BFGoodrich with its G-FORCE RIVAL S 1.5. People who prefer Bridgestone tires felt they were more communicative, making it easier to place the car where you wanted it. Others like the BFG for consistency in multi-lap events. The G-FORCE RIVAL S 1.5 can be a handful cold, feeling uncoordinated and prone to oversteer, but once warmed up, it likes fast driving. They never quite have the feel of the Bridgestone and Falken tires or the grip of the Michelins and Yokohamas, but they offer good stability, control, and reward consistency. They are also cheaper, which is why they stand out: value. If you autocross on regular street tires and are looking to move up, the BFGs make a great choice. They will run with the pack, and when you get good and consistent, you can even beat other drivers on better rubber.

Specs

  • UTQG: 40/C/A
  • Max Inflation: 44 psi
  • Tread Depth: 4/32-inch

Pros

  • Phenomenal levels of grip
  • Lightning fast responsiveness
  • Little to no warm-up time required

Cons

  • Tires wear out fast
  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for street use

At some point, someone shows up at an autocross event in a car with too much power on a set of Hoosiers. This person thinks they can outdrive everyone else because they have a fast car with the best tires. Don’t be that person. I’m not saying the Hoosier R7s are not great tires — they are. In fact, as a track-only tire, I’m not sure anything else comes close. If the R7 has any weaknesses, it’s the price and the fact they get hot after a couple of laps. It’s also not a tire you can use on the street, nor would you want to. But the real weakness is the driver who gets a false sense of confidence, thinking they can go faster and then drives beyond their limits. Going faster takes skill that comes from practice. You have to put in the work. As a beginner or intermediate driver, you won’t benefit from the Hoosier R7 because you can’t get near its limits. Once you’re a skilled driver with consistently fast times, though, the Hoosiers will take you to the next level.

Our Verdict

The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 barely nudges out the Yokohama ADVAN A052 for the top pick. You can’t go wrong with either tire, so it comes down to the number of laps and layout of the autocross course. For the best value, get the Falken AZENIS RT660. The Falkens offer great feel, and excellent performance for a fraction of the price.   

Things to Consider Before Buying Autocross Tires

There is a lot of info on tires — more than enough to cover several articles. To simplify things, there are three items to consider. 

Tire Type

The type of tire is the first thing to consider. While some people run all-season tires in autocross events, most opt for high-performance summer or ultra-high performance summer tires because they are softer and provide more traction. The tradeoff is they don’t perform as well in wet or cold conditions.  

Tire Size

When evaluating tire sizes, you need to look at the tire's width and the sidewall's height. The wider the tire, the larger the contact patch and the better the grip, which leads to faster lap times. Sidewall height comes into play for responsiveness. A shorter sidewall means less sidewall flex leading to faster transitions in corners.   

Treadwear

Treadwear is based on actual tire testing compared to a baseline. Tires that are expected to last as long as the baseline reference receive a treadwear rating of 100. If they are expected to last twice as long, they get a 200 treadwear rating and so on. The lower the treadwear rating, the softer the tire and the more grip it provides. But a softer tire wears out faster, so you’ll buy tires more often.  

Autocross Tire Pricing 

Autocross tires start at around $150 for a tire like the Falken AZENIS RT660 in a 15-inch size and go to over $630 for a 19-inch Hoosier R7. The midpoint seems to be $250 to $300, where you’ll see tires like the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 and Yokohama ADVAN A052 in a 17 to 18-inch size. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Are wider tires better for autocross?

A: A wider tire is almost always better if it fits. Even if it means going to a larger tire diameter.

Q: Does autocross hurt your car?

A: Autocrossing can shorten the life of standard consumable items such as tires and brake pads, but it is extremely unlikely that it will damage your car.

Q: Do you need a helmet for autocross?

A: Helmets must be worn for all track and autocross events. Helmets certified as meeting the most current or the two most recent applicable Snell, FIA, or SFI standards are acceptable.

Q: Can I autocross my SUV?

A: Yes, as long as it’s not a rollover risk. Buy why? Why?

Q: What is the most popular car to race?

A: Once again, the answer is the Miata…

stripe
stripe