With Project 5-Liter Eater beginning to put down some respectable horsepower numbers as of late, we wanted to take a break from the autocross world and dabble in the other side of racing on the strip for a change.
Since our ’15 EcoBoost Mustang project car also has plenty of suspension upgrades to make for a confident straight line racer, we realized we were only missing a few components from our freshly-conceived drag racing equation. An adequate drag racing setup begins with a tailored set of wheels and tires. That’s why we hit up two industry leaders, Race Star Wheels and Mickey Thompson, for a wheel and tire package.
When it comes to racing in any form, we’ve all heard horror stories of wheels taking damage in all of the wrong places, regardless if they’re a cast or forged construction. Some enthusiasts claim that cast wheels do not possess the strength to tolerate the abuse that is caused by racing.
LB Davis of Race Star Wheels explains how this can sometimes by a ‘myth’ in the industry. He says, “These wheels are of a 356 grade cast aluminum construction, with a load rating of 1,580 pounds per wheel. Because we utilize 356 grade aluminum, this allows the wheel to retain a higher load rating than a forged wheel. With these wheels, enthusiasts won’t have any issues with cracking, and they won’t have to worry about the wheels bursting into pieces coming down from a wheelie on the track.
Continuing, Davis said, “Many enthusiasts assume that forged two and three piece wheels are lighter than cast. However, that’s not always the case. Most forged wheels have a 1,200-pound load rating. Many times we’ve seen two (or three-piece) forged wheels compared to our cast wheels, and the difference in weight has always come out to less than one pound between the two.”
Even though we opted for the polished finish on our 92 Drag Star wheels, Race Star offers these wheels in additional finishes, including a ‘Dark Star’ black chrome finish.
Wheel Options For Big Brake Kits
From the tooling process to the final packaging of the wheels, everything is quality controlled before it leaves the facility. – LB Davis, Race Star Wheels
In the world of modern performance cars, vehicles are leaving the factory with larger and more performance-oriented disc brake systems than in previous years. This can sometimes pose as an issue for enthusiasts who want to run a matching wheel and tire combination, such as a set of 15-inch wheels on all four corners.
Race Star has answered the call to provide wheel options for modern cars with larger brake discs, and even cars equipped with aftermarket big brake kits.
Davis says, “For individuals with big brake kits, these wheel options won’t have any issues mounting. All of our wheels mount from the rear of the barrel. This allows us to take the inside of the wheel barrel and contour its shape to virtually every application, including ones with big brake kits. The wheel gets wider as it nears the center, allowing them to clear larger calipers and brake discs. We have a strict regime during the manufacturing process, as we have a team of quality control specialists who oversee the entire process.
From the beginning, these specialists oversee the manufacturing, packaging, and the quality of the wheels. From the tooling process to the final packaging of the wheels, everything is quality controlled before it leaves the facility.”
Davis says that the company’s goal for 2016 is to also offer enthusiasts a complete line of forged wheels in addition to the company’s cast offerings for individuals who are seeking a custom-made wheel option.
For the front wheels, we went with a set of polished 92 Drag Star wheels in a 18x5-inch size with a 2-inch back spacing. This wheel size (PN 92-850145DP) will allow us to clear bigger brakes if we decide to upgrade them in the future with a set of 15-inch six piston brakes.
Tires Designed For The Street And The Strip
Mickey Thompson provided our ’15 EcoBoost Mustang project car with a pair of its ET Street S/S tires to match our Race Star wheels mentioned above. For our application, M/T recommended we use a pair of its Sportsman S/R in a 26.6 R18LT (available on Jegs as PN 672-6682) size. The Sportsman S/R is specifically designed to work in conjunction with our choice of rear tires, which are M/T’s ET Street S/S in a 275/40R17 size (available on Jegs as PN 672-3470).
Because Project 5-Liter Eater won’t be going on a trailer for trips to the track we had a lot of questions for M/T regarding our new tire setup. Jason Moulton, senior product development manager for Mickey Thompson says, “The ET Street S/S is designed to be a street tire that you can take to the track. It is a true steel-belted, tubeless, radial tire, which maintains the feeling and handling on the street enthusiasts can expect.
“The ET Street S/S is constructed very similar to the previous ET Street Radial, with the minimal difference of adjusting the tread grooves to improve wet traction. Think of it like a larger hydraulic roller camshaft for your street car. It still has decent street manners, but improves performance when you go to the track. The R2 compound is a proven durable race compound that requires little burnout to achieve maximum traction. This helps tire life and prevents excessive feathering of the tread that can have a negative affect on traction. The size offering covers classic musclecars all the way up to modern muscle.”
Although drag racing season has come to an end for 2015, we plan on taking our ’15 EcoBoost Mustang project car to the local strip as soon as the new season starts. With the new stronger and lighter Race Star wheels and the wider and stickier Mickey Thompson tires, we have high hopes for Project 5-Liter Eater this year.
With all of the performance modifications we’ve applied over the last year, coupled with the new wheel and tire setup we can’t wait until the drag strip opens for the 2016 season and we get to put our wheels and tires to the test.
Nothing says intimidating like a Mustang with a pair of drag radials on the rear.