Race car wheels are both a fashion statement and a functional part of the vehicle to which they are attached. Most people really don’t think about what goes into making a modern wheel used in drag racing, but it’s more than most realize. We got to find out how RC Components makes its wheels during a behind-the-scenes tour of the company’s headquarters in Bowling Green, Ky.
RC Components actually started out as a paint company known as RC Acrylics and was founded in 1989 by owner Rick Ball. Ball then ordered a set of wheels for a motorcycle drag racing app, but when the wheels arrived they weren’t correct. After doing some research, Ball figured out how to cut his own set of wheels to replace the wrong set that the manufacturer sent in. Soon Ball’s friends wanted the motorcycle drag racing wheels he was making, and a new business was born. A similar thing happened years later when he made a single racing car wheel that immediately caught the attention of locals who saw the design – before long he was mass producing products for the market. drag races.
Eventually, Ball moved his business to Bowling Green, where he continues to produce motorcycle wheels, exhaust systems and racing car wheels. The company currently resides in a 60,000 square foot building, where it machines, anodizes and assembles all of its wheels in-house after receiving forged blanks from California. That’s right, RC Components wheels are made in the USA from start to finish.
RC wheels begin their journey at the welding station. This is where the inner wheel and the outer wheel are welded together. There are seven different interior sizes and nine different exterior sizes that RC Components can use to create different widths for rear wheel spacing.
RJ Clutter of RC Components provides further details on the first step of the wheel creation process.
“It’s really important to make sure the right interiors and exteriors are matched before the wheel goes through its first machining cycle. The centers are cut during the machining process because when the wheel halves are welded together they are strong. These first processes are very important when making the wheels because they define its shape.
We’ve added more crushing to our bead lock rings over the years so they can accommodate different tire thicknesses. -RJ clutter
When the wheels have finished the machining process, it’s time for them to cool off a bit in the polishing room. RC Components uses proprietary robotic technology to polish most of its wheels, so we can’t show you this part of the process, but the goal is always to remove any imperfections on the wheel. Small parts and wheels that need a little more attention will go to the hand polish station for cleaning.
Once the barrels are polished, they will go to the welding station to weld beadlock rings there, if it is a beadlock wheel. These wheels will go into anodizing after that, or they will stay polished and continue throughout the production process. RC Components also chrome their own wheels in-house, depending on what customers have ordered.
Speaking of bead locks, RC Components has put extra time and effort into this part of their wheel manufacturing process. The best part is, you don’t even need to have an RC Components wheel set to reap the benefits of its heel lock rings.
“We’ve added more crush to our bead lock rings over the years so they can accommodate different tire thicknesses. This helps to manage the bead seats which are different from tire to tire. This extra crushing really helps seal a wheel and tire together. We’re blocking anyone’s wheels here, that’s a service we provide. If you want something single or double, we can do it in-house here, ”says Clutter.
RC Components inspects each wheel as it goes from process to process to make sure it is perfect. The wheels that arrive this far are almost ready to ship to the customer, but they still have to go through final assembly to make sure they’re complete. Part of this process is adding the correct wheel center to the wheel based on the customer’s needs.
With our wheels, the centers of the wheels lock onto the barrels and then bolted together. – RJ Clutter
“We offer several different wheel centers for wheel offsets. We have a straight flush, a 1/2 inch, 1 inch, and 2 inch offset, known as Deuce. With all of the interior and exterior sizes in our catalog, we can offer almost any rear clearance you can think of. The Deuce center is what allows up to 1 inch of setback on a 15 × 10 wheel. This wheel allows cars with big tires to do radial races without big changes at the rear. The wheels can be created from the nine different exterior widths, seven different interior, four unique wheel centers, as well as our four, five and six stud options that we have, ”Clutter explains.
One of the unique features of RC Components wheels is the way the center is attached to the wheel barrel. If you think about it, this is an essential part of the design of a wheel, because this is how the transmission is attached to the wheel, and this is how power is transferred to the surface of the wheel. Track.
“RC Components uses a cutout in the wheel barrel to secure the center of the wheel to the barrel itself. There are a lot of wheels where the torque and axle inertia go only through the bolts. With our wheels, the centers of the wheels lock onto the barrels and then bolted together. This method ensures that the torque and inertia are on the material of the impeller relative to the bolts that hold the center of the barrel, ”explains Clutter.
It typically takes around seven to eight weeks for wheels to be finished at RC Components from the time they are ordered until the day they are shipped. There is one exception to this timeframe: Street King wheels that RC Components typically keeps on the shelf.
“The Street King wheel is a little different because it is made using flow forging technology. These wheels are affordable SFI certified street wheels that we offer for modern muscle cars like the Camaro, Mustang, Challenger and Charger. It is easier for us to store these wheels because they are made a little differently from the rest of our range, ”says Clutter.
It is interesting to see how different high performance parts are made because they are designed to withstand such extreme conditions. RC Components takes great pride not only in how they design every product they make, but also that the parts are all made right here in the USA.