Drag racing, as a sport, places a lot of emphasis on the wheels of the racing car. Wheel spacers are often used during a drag race to help with the perfect alignment and fitment of the car’s tires. This is generally to aid the car’s performance. Others use spacers just to achieve a certain look.
According to HNRA rules and regulations, you can drag race with wheel spacers. The studs that you are using need to allow for minimum thread engagement, then it will be permitted. The length of the studs needs to be inclusive of the added spacer size (10 mm spacer, add 10 mm to your studs).
Spacers are used by many car enthusiasts all over the world. It is used in cars designed for street races, in dragsters competing in a league; even the teams competing in the Daytona 500 use them. Spacers made out of steel and billet aluminum last longer than ones made out of cast aluminum. Bear that in mind when thinking of using spacers in your own vehicle.
Are you Allowed to Drag Race With Wheel Spacers?
The governing body that oversees drag racing in America and also Canada is called The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). They set the rules when it comes to drag racing and also host the events. They have over 40,000 members and claim to be the biggest sporting body in the world.
The NHRA does allow drag racers to use hub-centric wheel spacers, with the condition that the lug bolts/studs being used should allow for the minimum thread engagement. What that means to us regular folk is that the length of the lug bolts/studs needs to incorporate the added width of the wheel spacer.
For example, if you are using a 10 mm wheel spacer, that 10 mm should be added to your lug bolts/studs. You are, by definition, not allowed to use your original shorter lug bolts/studs, as this could be dangerous. There will be less thread to fasten the wheel to, as the wheel spacer takes up the thread and can cause wheels to be ripped off during a race.
Why Use Wheel Spacers On Your Drag Car?
Wheel spacers are used when tires don’t fit perfectly in relation to the rest of the body. It pushes the wheel away from the body of the car and automatically increases the car’s track width. This wider track can potentially enhance the grip of the vehicle as well as improve the general handling of the car.
Pushing out the wheels of a racing car can produce more stability when being pushed to the limit. For the image-conscious racer, it will appear that the rims are wider than they actually are, without having to go and buy wider rims, saving you some money in the process.
Break kits can be quite large and difficult to install if there is no ample space. Using a wheel spacer can create that much-needed space for you to fit your brake kit without hassles. When the car’s wheels are a bit out of alignment with each other, using wheel spacers can bring this alignment closer to what you need.
Sometimes it happens that the wheels of your car are just too close to other mechanics. They could be brushing against the suspension, control arms, and sometimes even the inner body of the wheel housing. Wheel spacers could help alleviate this problem of being too cramped for space.
How To Ensure That Spacers Are Safe
Only fit quality products
- When fitting spacers, lug bolts, and extended studs, it is very important that they are high-quality parts.
- Installing spacers leads to more pressure exerted on the lug bolts and extended studs. Always try to buy the strongest products on the market.
- Steel or billet aluminum spacers are recommended.
Use the smallest spacer
- Wheels being pushed out affects the steering, suspension, scrub radius of the tires, and how the wheels handle on the road.
- There is added stress on hubs, ball joints on the axle, and bearings.
- The less you push out the wheels, the less the stress will be on these parts.
- Fit the applicable size and don’t go overboard (do not use an 18mm spacer if all you need is a 6mm).
Torque the bolts and nuts
- Torque and tighten all the spacers bolts and nuts properly so you won’t have any issues going forward.
Regular inspection of the spacers
- Ideally, you should check your spacers after every race, or at least when you rotate your tires.
- A spacer will show cracks before failing completely.
- Spotting a crack will potentially save you a lot of money and time.
Install hub centric spacers
- It is in your best interest and the general safety of the vehicle, installing spacers that are the same size as your wheel hub.
- It is not recommended that you use centering rings on top of the spacers. Keeping the spacer installation as simple as possible is much safer in the long run.
When Are Spacers Dangerous?
Lug bolts (studs) too short
- The general rule is as follows: When you are adding 20 mm spacers, your lug bolts(studs) should incorporate that 20 mm extension.
- Doing this will ensure that there will be enough threading to properly secure the wheels.
- Reusing your old stock of lug bolts(studs) to fasten your wheels after installing the spacer is not safe and not recommended.
- Your wheels have the potential of dismounting at some stage, as the lug bolts are too short to safely tighten the wheels.
- If you can’t turn your lug bolts for a minimum of 10 full turns when fastening the wheel, then rather purchase longer lug bolts. This will ensure that you don’t risk your wheel falling off in the future.
Cheap and inferior spacers
- If you buy cheap and inferior spacers for your car, it increases the chance of cracking and breaking.
- Cracked spacers will lead to them breaking and your wheels coming off.
- This is very dangerous to you and your vehicle.
- Rather invest in high-quality spacers and lug bolts from the start to avoid this from happening.
- Wheels are one of the areas that are put under the most strain when racing, don’t let an inferior spacer ruin your racing experience.
- Always use wheel spacers made out of steel or billet aluminum. Never use cast aluminum.
Do Spacers Make Steering Heavier?
It will definitely make turning a little heavier, as the track is widened due to the spacers being in place; fortunately, a drag race is performed in a straight line. The impact is not applicable to drag vehicles.
Do Spacers Put Stress On A Car?
It could put extra pressure and stress on the lug bolts/studs. Always make sure to use the highest and strongest quality lug bolts/studs on the market. Your car should withstand the extra pressure without a problem.
Wheel spacers can definitely be used in drag racing. The key to ensuring that it is safe to use will depend on the quality of the spacer and lug bolts/studs. Always try to use steel and billet aluminumspacers as they are found to be the strongest and least likely to crack and break.
Always remember that you can’t reuse your old lug bolts/studs when fastening your wheels onto the spacers. They will be too short, and it is unsafe to use them. You need to add the width of your spacer to your new lug bolts/studs. A simple example, wheel spacer of 10 mm requires that an extra 10 mm be added to the length of your old lug bolts/studs.
The cost of having to replace a wheel being ripped out from your car will be way more than just rather spending some extra dollars on a decent wheel spacer. Drag racing is a dangerous sport. Safety is everything when it comes to engines and wheels going that fast. Make sure that your wheels stay on your car!
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