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Race Wheels vs. Street Wheels: What’s the Difference?

Race Wheels

If you are a seasoned race car driver, you understand the importance of choosing the right wheels and tires. However, if you are new to the sport, you may not know that the wheels on street cars versus racing cars differ significantly. These differences impact your safety under different driving conditions. This is what you should know about the difference between street and drag racing wheels.

Design Purpose

Manufacturers design wheels for specific purposes. Racing wheels tend to be lighter and have different strength values than street wheels. For example, racing tires for circular tracks have higher load capacities. Manufacturers of these wheels focus on safety for racers, customizing design, technology, lug centering, lug nut type and the outer shell’s construction. In addition, each type of racing, such as Indy, NASCAR and Formula One racing, requires different tire types. You can also find specific tires for wet tracks.

Also, manufacturers design rims for specific vehicles, e.g., Chevy Silverado 1500 parts. You can make aftermarket upgrades, but you will need tires that fit properly and do what you need them to do. Streets require greater traction and durability and less flex because they have to go over debris and road changes or damage. Slicks vary depending on your racing requirements.

Material and Construction

You want significant flex in your tires, overall or in the side walls, on your racing tires. Manufacturers of racing tires use carbon materials in addition to rubber to create their tires. They wear fast, lasting only up to three hours of consistent racing. Some only last 30 minutes.

Your slicks may seem to wrinkle when you increase your torque, but this gives them a greater grip on the road. This flexibility increases or decreases your contact patch. While track racing requires overall flexibility, street racing tires often have sidewall flexibility to handle sharp corners. Because they have softer compounds, the tire heats faster, which causes the tire to flex and grip the road better.

Street tires have silica, plated radial plies, durable rubber, and silica. These raw materials create tires that last up to 50,000 miles or more. Their structure is complex so they can handle diverse roadways and weather conditions. They are versatile when compared to track tires, which focus on speed and grip.

Department of Transportation Requirements

Street tires need to meet specific DOT requirements. They need to have specific tread and tread depths that prevent hydroplaning and give your vehicle a grip on the road during various weather conditions. They work well on different types of road foundations, e.g., asphalt, concrete or dirt roads. Manufacturers make with longevity, comfort and stability.

You cannot drive racing tires on the roadway because they do not meet DOT standards. Their lack of tread makes them dangerous during many weather conditions, including rain and snow, because they cannot properly grip the road.

As you search through Ford Mustang parts or those for your vehicle, make sure their labels say that they are street legal, approved by the DOT, before you use them on the vehicle you drive around in every day. For your racecar, search for those that are for this specific purpose, especially when you purchase tires, to save you money, prevent fines and improve your driving experience.

Race Wheels vs. Street Wheels: What’s the Difference?

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