Pony Wars: New Shoes From Weld Racing & Mickey Thompson

Big power pony cars are quite the norm these days, and our 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS and 2017 Mustang GT are no exceptions. Thanks to a new ProCharger centrifugal supercharger system, our Pony Wars Camaro and Mustang are making north of 1,000 hp.

Both cars received more than $15,000 worth of upgrades in Episode Five and Episode Six, and part of our Camaro’s list of upgrades necessitated a new set of wheels and tires designed specifically for drag racing. That’s where our partners at Weld Racing and Mickey Thompson come into play for the build. Both companies provided heavy hitting equipment for this pony car rodeo.

For the Camaro, we chose a pair of Weld Racing RT-S S70 18×5-inch, high pad 2.1-inch back spacing front wheels (P/N 70HB8050N21A) and a matching set of RT-S S70 17×10-inch, high pad 7.2-inch back spacing rear wheels (P/N 70HB7100N72F) which feature a single beadlock design. As far as tires go, we leaned on M/T’s experience here. With our power goals in mind, the company recommended its brand-new Sportsman S/R 28X6.00R18LT front runners (P/N 6688) and its ET Street R 305/45R17 rear tires (P/N 3572).

The Mustang, on the other hand, received a more traditional look with a pair of Weld RT-S S71 wheels. It also had a black finish and beadlocks, measuring 17×10 in the rear (P/N 71LB7100A80F) with the low pad design and 8-inch back spacing. The front (P/N 71HB8050A21A) was made to clear the upgraded Brembo brakes with 18×5 and a high pad, 2.10 inches of back spacing respectively. The same exact Mickey Thompson tires were used on the red pony as well. Despite having all the clearance we needed on both cars, the combination of lightweight wheels and the stickiest tries available ensured few compromises.

The Low Down

As noted above, we are making much more horsepower with our Camaro SS and Mustang GT than we did from the showroom floor. Hence, we decided to forgo a traditional cast aluminum drag racing wheel in favor of a three-piece, forged, beadlock equipped solution. Our new RT-S S70 and S71 wheels feature a single beadlock design (though a double beadlock is available) and are Weld’s solution for any avid street/strip racer.

Utilizing a beadlock design wheel is nothing new, as the concept spans back to the days of use in heavy-duty military vehicles, but now is available to the public in the form of many different racing scenes. Specifically, drag racing in our case, as we’re running a pretty soft drag radial in combination with our new wheels.

Although we chose the classic 5-spoke S71s for the Mustang and the double-spoke S70s for the Camaro, Weld offers quite a few different styles in the RT-S line (all with or without beadlocks). From left to right: S77 Beadlock and S77 (top), S76 and S79 (bottom). If you have trouble navigating Weld's vast array of drag wheels, keep in mind that for street/strip cars the RT-S line is what you want. Although forged and still lightweight, they are designed specifically to pull double-duty.

“The radial sizes in the ET Street R use the same construction and compound as the popular ET Street Radial Pro,” Jason Moulton, Tire Engineer at Mickey Thompson, said. “The primary difference is the amount of tread pattern. It has just a little more than the ‘Pro,’ but we kept it minimal for optimum traction at the track. The ET Street R also includes some bias-ply sizes targeting clutch and Pro Street applications. These particular specs use the latest technology from the ET Drag line.”

Truth be told, utilizing such a sticky tire was the impetus for choosing a beadlock wheel in the first place. “The beadlock acts like a clamp on the bead of the tire, preventing it from slipping,” stated Josh Hamming, Drag Race Specialist at WELD Racing. “There is no set time, place, 60-foot time, or e.t. that you may need a beadlock wheel on a street/strip car. We recommend you monitor slippage by marking the tire and wheel, and if you see movement from one pass to another, usually more than 1/4-inch, then it might be time to consider beadlocks. The harder a car launches, and the heavier it is can play a part as to when it is time.”

Why not old school rim screws you say? “Beadlocks are superior to rim screws for the fact that you are not drilling holes in your nice new Weld Wheels. However, beyond that they make it easy for you to mount tires yourself in the shop or even at the track. Also, SFI rules state: ‘Any wheel shall remain as constructed by the original manufacturer and shall not be modified or altered by anyone else.’ Rim screws will nullify the SFI certification of your wheels. That is one reason WELD Racing offers beadlock conversions on our wheels. We can add a beadlock to our wheels (where applicable) and it does not void the SFI certification.”

Our Camaro SS and Mustang GT have a wheel and tire combination nearly as potent as its power level commands, however, Weld did warn us that a 15-inch wheel/brake conversion would be the ultimate solution for traction. “If you are going to compete with the car more often, you may consider using one of the several ‘small brake conversions’ available in the aftermarket to allow you to use a 15-inch rear wheel. This will allow for an even taller sidewall, a larger variety of tire choices, and much better consistency at the track,” added Hamming.

Our Camaro SS features larger, six-piston Brembo calipers from the factory mated to larger, 15-inch brake discs in the front. Combine that with larger rear brake discs meant that we were in need for a wheel and tire solution which could outsize those big brakes. Weld provided us with street/strip wheels and tires designed for today's modern pony cars which utilize large brakes and have an overall heavier weight. Like many of Weld's alternative wheel options, our set uses the company's cold forged process.

Considering we went from a 1.75 to a 1.59 short-time in the Camaro, and a 1.76 to a 1.57 in the Mustang, I’d say we made some significant strides in the traction department. With better conditions and a few small changes, we feel better times are certainly possible with this wheel and tire setup.

Backed by some of the biggest names in the automotive aftermarket —including ARP BoltsBMR SuspensionCOMP CamsCovercraftDiablosportDyna-BattE3 Spark PlugsFragola Performance PartsHolley Performance ProductsMahle North AmericaMahle MotorsportsMickey Thompson Tires & WheelsProCharger SuperchargersPRWQA1 SuspensionRoyal Purple Synthetic OilSummit RacingTCI AutomotiveWeld Racing, and others — stay tuned as we wrap up the Pony Wars series with the final track test and tally of points.

About the author

Harrison Noble

Living in San Diego for most of his life, Harrison was exposed to a variety of cars at an early age. His passion for anything that is fast, or has a V8, brought him to Power Automedia.
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