58 APRIL 2020 scca.com
Wheels. We all use them and, in nearly four decades of my car hobby, I’ve owned a
near uncountable variety. Sometimes the best
choice was wheels original to the car, while
other times takeoffs from a different vehicle
best fit the bill. Often, however, the ideal choice
was an aftermarket wheel. Regardless, gobs
of time and thought went into each wheel-purchasing decision, and an ample number
of lessons have been learned along the way.
With my first Mitsubishi Conquest,
the original equipment wheels were
just about the only legal option since
they were an odd 15x6.5-inch size. The
solution was to buy readily available
15x7-inch wheels for daily street use,
leaving the stockers for competition tires.
My first experience with non-matching
front and rear wheel sizes came with a
later-model Conquest that came with
then-huge 16x8 and 16x9 wheels. I was
lucky to have bought the car from another
autocrosser who had bought a set of
three-piece Revolution wheels for it. Those
fancy race wheels were not round and
didn’t hold air, but at least they were light.
A Honda CRX taught me about
alternate-year stock wheels, since lots of
Hondas came with 14x5-inch wheels.
The Dodge Neon came along, and by then
we expected to have several sets of wheels
available. American Racing made a legal
alternative that was light, cheap, and strong.
My Mazda MX- 6 had stock wheels that were
both an odd size and really heavy – 23 pounds
for a 15x6.5 is impressive – but, fortunately,
the second-generation RX- 7 came on a much
lighter BBS-made wheel. That RX- 7 wasn’t a
high-production model, but the wheels were not
hard to find, and that odd size meant demand
wasn’t high. Oddly, despite both being Mazda
models, the MX- 6 hubs were a larger diameter
and required the wheels to be bored out.
The Toyota MR2 meant I was back to the
divergent front and rear wheel sizes. Volk
TE-37s were not too expensive back then,
and they had a 15x7 that was perfect for the
rear of the car. Unfortunately, the MR2 Turbo
front brake calipers protruded out too much
for Volk’s 15x6 to fit, so another racer found
Wedsports that could be imported from Japan
for use on the front. That was the first time
I ever intentionally ran mismatched wheels.
When we migrated to the non-turbo MR2,
we discovered that the front brake calipers
allowed the use of the TE- 37, so on occasion we
actually had matching wheels front and rear.
My C5 Corvette had a lot of choices
for wheels, but the hot ticket was a rare
magnesium OE wheel that was super
strong and light. Z06-width wheels will
bolt onto any C5 without modification, so
those smaller magnesium wheels were not
in demand, and the price was fantastic.
The Nissan 370Z had OE wheels made
by the same people who make the Volks,
so stockers were the right option there.
Back into the MR2 world with the
third generation Spyder, we were back to
mismatched front and rear wheels. The
rear 15x7s are a common size, and Enkei
RPF-1s are light, strong, and in the middle
of the price range. The 15x6s are a less
common size in the aftermarket, but that
is an original wheel for NB Miatas, and 949
Racing filled that need with an aftermarket
wheel that, like the American Racing Neon
wheels, is light, strong, and affordable.
When I most recently moved to the
German market, I discovered that no wheels
are cheap. Original equipment, aftermarket,
specialty racing, they all seem to be
relatively light and strong – and expensive.
It seems odd that every car I’ve
competed in has had a different brand of
aftermarket wheel. In any case, there are a
lot of answers to the race wheel question.
Correctly chosen autocross wheels are essential. Journey with me down a road of
many cars, and even more sets of wheels | WORDS Paul Brown | IMAGES Perry Bennett
Multiple sets of wheels aren’t a necessity
in autocross, but they help. To that end,
there are a variety of wheel options,
from race-specific applications (LEFT) to
off-the-shelf aftermarket solutions (BELOW).