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How to Choose Racing Wheels

6/8/2021
Steel Racing wheels
A basset performance racing wheel

Customers often ask: What is the difference between street wheels and race wheels? The answer is: racing wheels are designed with very specific weight and strength guidelines, and it’s unsafe to use an OEM or aftermarket wheel on a racing application. The main difference between street legal wheels and wheels designed for the race track are the DOT requirements. Factory or aftermarket DOT specifications require specific load requirements that differ from racing wheel construction.

Circle track racing wheels are subjected to much greater loads than what OEM wheels are designed to handle. Several factors play into to the design of steel racing wheels, from the grade and thickness of the material, to the placement of mass. Every portion of the wheel is just as important as the next, the center lug nut section and the outer shell are both vital for endurance. Racing wheel technology and safety are constantly improving and manufactures like Aero, Bart, Bassett, Weld and Speedway Motors are continuing to produce wheels with latest cutting edge design and technology.

Beadlock Wheels
A chrome beadlock racing wheel

A beadlock wheel is designed to accept a retaining ring that secures the tire bead to the rim. Initially, they were called combat wheels and used on military trucks for their strength. After off-road and dirt track racing progressed in the 1970s into the 1980s, racing manufactures began designing beadlocks wheels for the the race track. In dirt track racing, the tires are inflated with lower pressures in order to gain more surface area contact, and typically the tires have a coarse tread design. Clamping the bead of the tire to the rim then prevents the tire from slipping or rolling off the rim. Speedway Motors offers beadlock wheels from Aero, Bassett, and Weld Racing.

Wide Five
Example of a racing wheel in the Wide Five style.

A wide five hub and wheel assembly offers significant strength impovement and weight reduction over conventional hub assemblies. The term wide five refers to the larger hub diameter and wheel bolt-circumference. These set-ups are common among Dirt Late Model, Stock Car, Pro Stock, and Asphalt racing classes. Wide five hubs typically bolt onto 9-inch floater and Quickchange rearends. Unlike a conventional hub assembly, the rotor mounting flange is located on the inside of the hub. Speedway offers wide five hub and wheel assemblies from Winters, Wilwood, Weld Racing, Bassett, and Duralite. We also offer several bolt-on wide five wheel adapters.

Tips on Racing Wheels

When it's time to choose a set of wheels, there are a few things the racer should consider. What type of racing or series will you be involved in? For example, an IMCA Late Model team may need the lightest wheel on the market, while a weekend Street Stock racer may want to give up a little weight for the added strength and durability. Wide-five wheels have dominated the circle track market for years now, and whether it's Late Model or Asphalt racing classes, wide-five wheels offer the most strength and lightest weight possible.

When you’re considering the options, pay most attention to the quality, construction, and safety of the wheel. Be sure the wheels you purchase meet the requirements of your sanctioning body track rules. You can always contact the a Speedway Motors tech rep to learn how a specific wheel can meet your racing needs.

Like everything else, the wheels are a working part of the car. Under normal use they’re subjected to a great deal of wear like any component. The life expectancy can certainly vary depending on the track conditions and stress. Hitting the wall is one of the most common failures for racing wheels. Many racers try to lighten the wheel by grinding or drilling additional holes, which is unsafe and can shorten the life of any wheel.

In certain cases wheels can be repaired, but the majority will find that repairing a bent rim is a temporary fix. You can check for cracks or fatigue around the center bolt section near the lug nut area and rim shell. If any area shows signs of excessive wear, replace the wheel. If you follow routine maintenance and check for signs of stress and fatigue, replace wheels when needed, you’ll be sure to stay ahead of the competition and continue racing safe.

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