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We're often asked why we are involved in so many forms of motorsport. Whether it's ALMS, American Iron Road Racing, Rallycross or Formula D, we are constantly using these environments to put our designs and engineering to the test.
Drifting seems to be one of the most punishing forms of motorsport we deal with and our theory of limiting rotational mass plays a giant role in how these cars perform in competition. Falken Tire has created an impressive line up over the years of incredibly competitive drift drivers including names like Darren McNamara,Vaughn Gittin Jr and Justin "JTP" Pawlak. The cars are built and maintained by the crew at Autosport Dynamics in Charlotte, NC, the experts in making proper race cars specifically designed to get sideways.
Every car that leaves ASD's shop is equipped with HRE forged Competition series wheels and they are put to the test at each round of the Formula D series. Justin Pawlak in the ASD built/Falken Tire Ford Mustang took the win at the opening round in Long Beach, CA in the beginning of April and put HRE up on the podium once again.
We had a quick chat with Ian Stewart at ASD and discussed what advantages they find by choosing HRE Wheels on their builds and why using the Comp series fits their needs in a race setting.
Is there something specific about the HRE comp line that holds up to the stresses of drifting better?
The primary advantage is due to rotating mass, considering that wheel speed in drifting is always higher than equivalent and comparable vehicle speed. This allows an increase in throttle response as felt by the driver, and effectively widens the torque band capability of the engine.
In fact, our focus on light weight wheels using the HRE line has created some compromises with tire and wheel deflection that we did have to overcome. Obviously, despite the engineering capability HRE has in designing a lightweight wheel there is always also a minimum load rating for a specific application that does have an effect on tire contact capability. So the HRE line enables us to run the lightest weight wheel possible with those tire generated loads in mind due to the load deflection capability of the lightweight HRE wheel. We see more deflection with the lighter weight wheel, but less so with the HRE line than in other lightweight wheel brands, and therefore the compromise between wheel deflection and tire contact area vs. wheel rotating mass still creates a performance advantage overall compared to running a heavier - but perhaps more rigid - monoblock wheel.
How many sets of wheels do you guys go through in a season?
The only time we have had to replace an HRE wheel has been due to damage caused by contact on track. We haven't seen any other failures requiring wheel replacement at all. Therefore, all going well, we use ten rear wheels and four front wheels per car for an entire season. This fourteen wheel count per car is only required due to the speed of tire wear and the capability of tire changers to keep up with dismounting and remounting tires. The extra fronts are simply so we can have pre-mounted tires on wheels ready to replace any front wheels damaged by contact on track.
We want to thank Ian from ASD for taking the time to talk a bit and give us some insight on how our products really help their cars perform at their best. We're looking forward to seeing the Falken Tire team shine again at the next round of Formula D on May 11 at Road Atlanta.