Written By Steve Baur
Safety third, as the saying goes. What is likely the most critical aspect of any racing operation is often pushed down the priority list, but sometimes safety goes hand in hand with maintaining and even improving performance. Our friends at Mickey Thompson Tires recently expressed concern over the frequency with which they see improperly mounted tires on drag wheels, and it was obvious that we needed to work with them in showing our readers the right way to do things.
Bead-lock wheels are often necessary both on drag strips as well as in off-road applications. They grip the tires and hold them in place when an extreme amount of torque is applied and traction is at maximum. Without bead locks in these situations, the tires can rotate on the wheels, which causes a loss of traction and can deflate the tire in some circumstances as well. There is a bit more to buying bead lock-equipped wheels than you might think, and talking with both the wheel and tire manufacturers is essential to getting a combination that works as expected.
If buying another set of wheels isn’t an option, you can have a set of bead locks welded to you current wheels. Companies like Mac Fab offer this service, and Mac Fab can often be found at many of the big heads up races throughout the year—they can even install the bead-locks while you’re at the track. Whether you buy a new set of rims or have your current ones modified, attention should be given to the installation procedure, which we’ll document in the photos to come.
Another drag racing combination that Mickey Thompson was concerned with is the bias-ply slick and inner tube. There is more to the installation than just stuffing the tube in the tire and inflating it. Improper installation can manifest itself at the launch where the tire will bounce back instead of wrinkling up as it should. More often than not, a poorly installed tube generates a significant vibration down track, and it can even lead to premature failure of the tube itself. Fear not, though, as we’ll walk you through M/T’s recommended procedure that ensures you have a proper performing wheel and tire combination.
To read the entire story, click >>HERE<<