Forget turbochargers, nitrous oxide, suspension kits, and all other go-fast goodies. The two best and cheapest ways to make your car quicker are a set of super-sticky tires and a serious upgrade of the organic software (that being you, the driver).
If you want to go quicker in the corners, fit top-flight tires before you waste money on engine and suspension modifications.
My secret to beating the Porsche in the Mustang? The 275/35ZR18s intended for the front of a Viper boasted a tread compound that was nearly identical to a full-on race rubber. While the man in the Porsche drove his ego off, I just cruised around relishing the advantage.
Finally, my competitor employed two techniques that evened out the times: He jumped the curbs as one would on a racetrack (but was prohibited by Michelin internal regulations), and he refused to give rides to males, meaning I was carrying considerably more weight.
A tire company spends about $1 million to develop rubber for a car like the Viper. The result will have unimaginable grip, slice through standing water, and give the driver ample warning they're approaching their limit of adhesion.
The upshot: If you're looking for replacement rubber for a vehicle built for performance, then the best max-performance tires will be the ones that came on your car.
Stay far, far away from all-season tires, even "ultra-high-performance all-season tires." All-season tires give up dry- and damp-road grip for traction at below-freezing temperatures. Look for a "summer" or, more accurately, a "three-season" tire.
The term ultra high performance once indicated tires that offered the highest grip. No longer. Now some sellers have created terms for tires that have far more traction than the old UHP nomenclature. "Max performance summer" is a step up, and often a big leap above, those labeled UHP. Tires that are even stickier are sometimes called extreme performance summer.
It's hard to go wrong with Bridgestone, Michelin, Pirelli, Yokohama, Goodyear, or the like. However, some of the lesser-known brand names, especially those from South Korea, make some damn good tires. One lesser-known Japanese maker produced a tire that handed it to the big names on a damp track and matched them in the dry.