March 2020 News
Home           Contact            About              Site Map            Privacy                               Copyright © 2020   All Rights Reserved
News Index
Larger Wheels Offer No Advantage on Cars  - My View

Back during the muscle car era, those bad beasts rolled on 15" wheels.  Today, we see sporty cars coming with larger
wheels,  such as 18", 19" and 20".  Today, most cars use larger wheels than their predecessors.  This creates several

First off, larger wheels and tires are both
more expensive.

Secondly, a larger wheel means
more weight.  As we all know, weight negatively affects acceleration and efficiency
on all cars.  No where does weight make a bigger impact on a car than the unsprung mass of the wheels and tire.  
Consequently a larger wheel and tire hurts acceleration and fuel economy.  [Side note: aluminum and alloy wheels are
lighter than steel wheels, but not as strong.  However, the best and most expensive light wheels use special alloys and
forging to create strong wheels.]

Thirdly, assuming the size of wheel wells have not changed, larger wheels requires
shorter sidewall tires so as to fit
within the wheel well without rubbing.  The height of the sidewalls makes a difference in handling.  
A short sidewall tire is going to be stiffer than a tire with a tall sidewall.  This has several effects:  
A short sidewall tire provides
tighter handling and less rolling resistance, a good thing.  
The more rolling resistance there is, the more energy is needed.  The more energy needed, the more fuel that is
consumed.  A
tall sidewall tire, on the other hand, is going to offer a greater cushion which translates to a more
comfortable ride
.  So, a driver needs to choose a short sidewall tire for performance & efficiency, or a tall sidewall
tire if they prefer a more comfortable ride.

[It is important to notice that a large wheel is not required to have a short sidewall tire, they can be used on smaller
diameter wheels as well.   At least in principle - one has to find the tire height they want with the wheel size they

To summarize, a smaller wheel results in less weight and less price.  In addition, a short sidewall chosen for perform-
ance and efficiency reasons, doesn't rely on wheel size.  There are no real advantages to a larger wheel unless you
are switching to a much shorter sidewall tire - using such a tire on the OEM wheel means the outside diameter of the
tire will be smaller.  This can cause numerous problems: The car will sit lower and could cause the bottom of the car
to scrape along speed bumps.  Whenever the outer diameter of the tire changes from the OEM, the accuracy of the
speedometer and odometer are affected.So, it would probably be best if you chose a larger wheel for your new shorter
sidewall tires so as to retain the original diameter, at least if you want to keep things easy on yourself.

Another problem that can arise when changing wheels and tires is bottoming out.  Springs and shocks might be able to
counter this effect.

So why are larger wheels used these days?  The basic reason is simply looks.  Whether cars actually look better with
larger wheels, or we've just been conditioned to think so by successful marketing, you will have to decide.

Buying Wheels & Tires

Regardless of what wheel diameter you want, it may not be available for your car.  The offset of the wheel needs to
be correct, but it is possible to use spacers to adjust that.  The correct bolt pattern needs to be found, although some
wheels can be custom drilled to match your car's bolt pattern.

Note: while tire width can have a big effect on a car's performance, wheel diameter does not technically have anything
to do with the width of the tire used since theoretically, you can have the same width wheels in different diameters .  
Skinnier tires provide better traction in rain and snow, wider tires provide better traction and cornering on dry pavement
- up to a point, where weight could become a factor.  

Other things to take into consideration when choosing tires:
Tread pattern - Wider-spaced tread may help channel water away while giving up traction and making more noise.  
Tire material - the stickier the rubber, the better the adhesion, but the faster the tire wears out, i.e. the fewer miles that
can be driven on the tires.
Both of the above items may determine whether a tire is a Summer, All Season or Winter tire.
Also, run-flat tires can be used so that a spare tire is not necessary.

Changing wheel size on your car can require a lot of research and even experimentation.
If your goal is only want to change the look of your OEM wheels, the best thing to do is just look for wheels with the
same diameter, bolt pattern and offset.  Then buy the same size tires.  This way you should not encounter an problems
with tire rubbing, speedometer calibration, or your car's ride height.

I recommend using
Tire Rack.  Their Web Site lets you select your specific car and color, then shows you the wheels
that work with it and displays images of what your car looks like with each set of wheels.  They have the best prices too.  
If you buy your tires from them, they will mount and balance them before sending them to your local garage to be mounted.  
Tire stores are middlemen and you will end up paying more and having a slimmer selection if you buy from them.
NASCAR Cup Moving to 18" Wheels

Mar 3 - In 2021, NASCAR's Cup Series will switch from 15"
steel wheels to 18" aluminum wheels.

The reason is so that the cars, that already resemble
Mustangs and Camaros, will now sport wheels more akin to
their street going doppelgangers.

In relation, they have determined that using a larger,
higher-torqued center lug nut will replace their current 5-lug
system.  They think this will be safer for the switch to
aluminum wheels.

While not expected to affect the current pitstop ballet, they
will no longer have to glue the 5 lug nuts to every wheel
before the race, something they do to speed tire changes in
the pits.
2020 vs 2021
NASCAR Wheel & Tire
Coronavirus Affecting Formula 1

Mar 8 - In February, Formula 1 cancelled or postponed
grand prix in China and Italy due to outbreaks of Corona-

Travel restrictions have been appearing around the world
and various music and sporting events have been cancelled
in hopes of containing the spread of this new flu-like virus
which can be deadly.

Bahrain has now announced that while the Formula 1 grand
prix, scheduled for March 22nd, will be ran.  No spectators
will be allowed!  Only the race teams and the  media can
attend.  All fans will have to watch the race televised.
Developments in Italy are also casting further doubt on
races, with the Italian government quarantining 16 million
people. Currently, 15 central and northern provinces are in
lockdown and requiring special permission to travel.

Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters is located in the province
of Modena, one of those affected, but at present it is un-
clear how the restrictions impact the race team, some of
who will already have already departed for next weekend’s
Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Carlin Adds IndyCar Drivers...Finally!

Mar 10 - Carlin has a two-car IndyCar program.  While
Max Chilton's contract was finally renewed Feb 7th, no
news has been forthcoming about who would drive the car
vacated by
Charlie Kimball or who would drive Chilton's
car at the four oval races which Chilton doesn't want to

As teams are preparing for the first race of the season this
weekend, Carlin finally made some decisions!

Conor Daly, who is currently employed by Ed Carpenter
Racing to drive all the street/road courses of Carpenter's
car, has been signed to drive Chilton's car at the remaining
four oval events (Richmond, St Louis Gateway, Texas and
Iowa.)  Daly will now be driving in every IndyCar race this
year, albeit with two race teams.  He is happy that Ed
Carpenter Racing is allowing him this opportunity.

Not many Laps were ran at IndyCar's Open Test at COTA
last month due to the weather.  Carlin brought two new
drivers to that test,
Felipe Nasr and Sergio Sette Camara.

Carlin also ran Nasr during the recent tests at Sebring,
where he and Chilton posted the fastest times.

Yesterday it was announced that Camara had taken a job
as a Formula 1 Red Bull/AlphaTauri test and reserve
driver, and has taken a similar role with the Dragon
Formula E team.

Carlin announced today that Nasr will be piloting their #31
Chevrolet Indy car at the St. Pete Grand Prix this week-

Nasr, a 27 y/o Lebanese Brazilian, raced for Carlin during
his early career in British F3 and GP2.
Felipe Nasr
Nasr raced for the Sauber F1 team in 2015 & 2016.  He
has since been racing prototypes in IMSA SportsCar
Championship. He also raced in Formula E last year.

Last summer, Nasr also tested an IndyCar for Arrow
Schmidt Peterson at Mid-Ohio.

The big question now is -  
Will Carlin run Nasr for the whole IndyCar season?
Felipe Nasr,  the 2018 IMSA Champion,
Won the 2019 12 Hours of Sebring
Coronavirus Now Affects IndyCar

Mar 12 - Many large events that bring a lot of people
together have been cancelled around the world recently in
an effort to reduce the spread of the new virus COVID-19.  

IndyCar has decided that their first race of the season, this
weekend in St. Petersburg, will be held without spectators.
The event will be open only to essential personnel and
some media.

In addition, some of the action is being curtailed.  For
instance the IndyCars will not practice on Friday, but only be
on track Saturday and Sunday.

There are many support races there this weekend as well.  
Their schedules will also be changing.
About Coronavirus... My Opinion

I know missing the race will upset many race fans, especi-
ally those who have travelled to Florida already for the race.

Many Americans feel that the cancelling of live entertain-
ment events is overkill.

I would like to offer a few things to consider. The Corona-
virus spreads quickly and easily.  In just 3 months, it has
spread to 118 countries, infected 124,847 and killed 4,613
(as of this morning according the W.H.O.)  Those numbers
reflect a fatality rate of 3.7%.  If left unchecked and this
disease were to infect the 7.8 billion people on the planet,
my calculations show that 288 million people would die
from it. (About the number who died from small pox a
century ago.)

There will be no cure.  All we can hope for is a vaccine.  
A vaccine will only be of help to those who have not
already contracted the virus.  When a vaccine is created,
it will take a year of tests before it can be rolled out.  So
there is a long road ahead.  Stopping the spread of this
virus is all we can do now.

I think that is why we are seeing such drastic measures
from around the world, as businesses and schools are
closed and travel restricted.  When a country with a poor
human rights record such as China is willing to halt all of
their vast production for the welfare of their people, you
know its serious.

On the other hand, most people who get sick won't die
from it.  Some will have little problem handling it and it will
go away in two weeks.  Stopping this epidemic is going to
have far reaching consequences - small businesses may go
under, workers may lose their jobs and so on and so on.  
There will be many bad side-effects from our fight to
contain this virus.

And we don't have to.  We could, as a nation, go about
our business as usual and ignore it.

I think the big question comes down to - Is it worth the
cost to our economies and way of life - to suffer for  
several years - in order to
try to save untold millions of old
and fragile people in the world, hoping we can develop a
vaccine, or that it just peters out?

It appears that the world has chosen to take action.
So, there's nothing you can do about it if you disagree.

I recommend doing what your health organizations tell you
and try to accept gracefully whatever restrictions come
your way.
You have to feel sorry for all the fans who
travelled long distance for the race.

Or do you?
F1's Australia GP Cancelled

Mar 12 - This weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand
Prix in Melbourne has been cancelled. The news follows
McLaren’s withdrawal from the race on Thursday, after
one of their team members tested positive for the corona-

They said that all ticket holders will receive a full refund.

I bet that doesn't cover airfare and hotel.

But it's summertime in Australia, the fans who are there
will likely still have a good time.  Or so I thought until I
found a web site touting ....
#1 Look Down from the skydeck.
#2 Ride the Yarra river cruise. (Um, no boat cruises thank you!)
#3 Watch a Footy game (apparently hot potato with no rules)
#4 Go drinking at a bar
#5 Leave and go to Brighton to see some brightly painted sheds.
#6 Tour Parliament House - where they make laws
#7 Go drinking at a pub
#8 Walk on a path to St Kilda pier
#9 Join a walking tour
#10 Eat Chinese dumplings.  
#11 Ride the tram
#12 Go to the market
#13 Walk around the botanical garden
#14 Walk through the alleys (Don't do this in America.)
#15 Go to the library and learn about Ned Kelly.  (Who?)
#16 Leave and go to Williamstown and read a pamphlet
#17 Go look at some churches
#18 Go to the docks (Don't do this in America.)
#19 Tour the Shrine of Rememberance, their most interesting thing
#20 Walk along Sydney Road
#21 Leave, go to Seaford and take a walk.
The 21 Best Things to do in Melbourne Australia
The Shrine of Rememberance
Wow, sounds like they are really into walking.  Hmm, Crocodile Dundee did mention "walk-abouts" a lot...
No mention of a zoo.  If I went to Australia, I would want to see a kookaburra, koala bear and platypus.
I probably just visited a lame web site.  Melbourne is probably a fun place to visit - especially if you do #4 and #7.
Parliament House
Sydney Road
Due to the covid-19 virus pandemic, so many changes were
happening to the scheduling of all race series around the
globe, that I stopped updating each event here and added a
scrolling box on my main page that keeps track of races
cancelled or postponed.
The INDY 500 is Rescheduled

Mar 26 - As many of us feared, the Indy 500 will not be
ran on Memorial Day Weekend due to the pandemic.
Fortunately the race will still occur, but a few months later.

Track action will begin Aug 12 and continue to race day
which is Aug 23.  Practices, Qualifying, Carb Day and the
Indy Lights race will all still take place!  However, all
music concerts are cancelled.  I hope they are replaced by
other bands at least.

This forces a slight schedule change to three IndyCar races
- Mid-Ohio, Gateway and Portland.


This new schedule also moves the MotoAmerica Superbike
race at IMS out to October 9-11.
The GMR Grand Prix - the IndyCar race on the IMS road
course - has been rescheduled as well.  

Originally it was to occur on Saturday, May 9th.  The race
has been moved to Saturday, July 4th - the same weekend
as the NASCAR Brickyard 400!

The NASCAR Xfinity Series is racing on the road course
for the first time this year in a race named The Pennzoil
150.  It will be held after the IndyCar race.  

This is a unique situation - the merging of two races.
Reserved seats have been sold to both events.  What
happens when a IndyCar fan and a Nascar fan has the same
seat ticket?  Does the IndyCar fan get the seat during the
IndyCar race and then have to move for the Xfinity race?  
What happens if I show up with my infield parking pass and
discover it's full of NASCAR fans?  I would guess IMS will
just say first come first served and if you don't get to park,
then you'll just have to pay to park somewhere else.

The NASCAR Cup cars will race in the Brickyard 400 on
Sunday, July 5th.

Also, during this inactive time, race car drivers have been
competing against one another via video racing games.
Some of it is being televised or streamed.

Update: I have watched the first two Indycar i-races and
recommend them.  Interviews with drivers and regular
announcers help make the show real.