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Racing Wheel Guide: Design, Torque, Offset and Backspacing

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Are wheel offset and backspacing the same?
How to Measure Wheel Backspace

In the circle track racing scene the terms offset and backspace get used interchangeably but they are actually two completely different measurements. Most circle track racers will be referring to the backspace measurement regardless of which term they choose to say. All circle track wheel manufacturers list their wheels by the backspacing, not the actual offset measurement. For more detailed information about the difference between wheel backspacing and wheel offset measurements check out our article Wheel Offset vs Backspacing Explained

How to Measure Backspacing
Wheel Backspace Measurement Illustration

It's important to have the proper backspace to ensure you have proper clearance inside your inner wheel well and fender. The backspace or offset is measured from the inside lip of the wheel to the inside of the flange mount. The smaller the number the closer the flange will be to the inside of the wheel.

Why Change Wheel Backspace?

Most of us know that changing wheel backspace changes the way your car handles. On a race car, we use different wheel backspacing to help tune the chassis to the track conditions. When you change wheel backspace, it changes the amount of weight that the tire puts to the ground. We suggest that you put your car on scales and record the weight differences when you change wheel offsets. This will allow you to make proper chassis changes at the track.

Torquing the Wheels
Lug nut torque pattern

The average race wheel sees a tremendous amount of pressure and abuse in its short lifetime and with a few simple tips, it may mean the difference between winning and losing.

We don’t think twice about torquing the heads or mains on a race engine but seldom do we see anyone doing the same with their wheels. Did you know if you use an impact wrench and just hammer the nuts on, there is a good chance you will end up warping the brake rotors the next time out?

Just like the heads on your engine if all the bolts are not torqued the same, you run the chance of warping them when they get hot.

Torque your wheels using a star pattern rather than just tightening them up in order. The same goes with the beadlocks. If you just crank the bolts down you run the risk the tire will not be centered on the wheel correctly. Take your time and use the star pattern.

Lug Nuts
Circle Track Racing vs Street Lug Nuts

Most racing wheels have a 45 degree taper for the lug nut to seat against, while most street wheels have a 60 degree taper. With a 45 degree taper, the lug nut is able to clamp tighter over a larger area, which helps keep your wheels on the car where they belong.

If you mix and match street and race wheels or lug nuts you are just asking for trouble! All of our racing lug nuts will have a 45 degree taper and are designed to be used with racing wheels.

Wheel Bolt Pattern Measurement

Bolt patterns are simply the measurement of an imaginary circle that lies across the center-line of the lugs. Whether you are looking to adapt or match a new set of wheels, we have a simple guide to help you estimate your bolt circle.

No need to guess any longer! Speedway Motors has a precision bolt circle template that simplifies the most common 5 lug patterns for you. Check out our bolt circle template; a must-have tool for the shop or swap meet. Check out our guide on wheel bolt pattern measurement to learn more.

Wheel Bolt Pattern Measurement for 5 Lug and 4 Lug Patterns
See our video about measuring wheel bolt patterns:

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