As you already know, we’re building a Factory Five Cobra Challenge car to be the ultimate track day weapon, as well as an awesome all-around driver’s car. If you’ve been checking out our updates on the build, you’ve seen that we’ve been making great progress, but SEMA is coming up and we really need to push to get the car finished.

Knowing that Project Cobra Jet Challenge would be driven on both the track and the street, we knew we needed a wheel that provides the strength of a forged monoblock, with the look and finish of a modular. We also needed a tire that could take the abuse we’re going to throw at it on the track, as well as be mildly-mannered enough for comfortable street driving. After doing some research, we contacted our friends at CCW, who set us up with a set of their new C18 Hybrid Series wheels. Our friends over at Toyo Tires  supplied us with a set of their popular Proxes R888s finished off with TredWear tire letters. Together, it is the perfect combination for our Cobra build.

We also took the time to sit down with Keith Kern of CCW and Drew Dayton of Toyo Tires to talk about the products, their development, and why they’re a great fit for our build.

CCW C18 Hybrid Series Wheels

This is one of our CCW C18 Hybrid Series wheels. We opted for the brushed and clear anodized finish for the face and lip to give the wheels a raw machined appearance.

CCW has been manufacturing high-quality wheels for road racing and sports cars for more than 25 years, and have also worked closely with GM to provide wheels for prototype/test mules to beat on throughout development processes.

This photo shows the stages that the wheel goes through before it is completed. Image courtesy of CCW

From left to right: The wheel center and inner barrel before the spoke design is cut. The wheel center after the spoke design and bolt holes for the lip are machined. Wheel complete without the hardware in place.

For those that aren’t familiar with CCW’s Hybrid Series wheels, they are a two-piece design, but provide the look of a three-piece wheel and the rigidity of a forged monoblock wheel. The wheel face and inner barrel are machined into one piece, while the outer lip bolts to the face.

Completing the wheel assembly is a bead of silicone that seals the two pieces together to ensure that there are no leaks when the tire is mounted. Our wheels, in particular, are the C18 model, which aren’t offered yet from CCW, but will be very soon. The fronts measure out to 18 x 9.5 inches with a 6.25-inch backspace, and the rears are significantly larger at 18 x 11 inches with a 6.5-inch backspace.

“The center and the inner barrel, being one piece, has an extremely low runout,” Kern explained. “When you attach the outer lip, you have a two-piece wheel that’s about as true as a monoblock wheel, yet you’re not restricted to the finish options of a monoblock. If you look at a three-piece wheel, what you’re trying to do is get an outer lip, inner barrel, and center to all work together and spin straight, which is not the easiest to do.”

The center and inner barrel piece is machined from aircraft-quality T-6061 aluminum, the outer lip is made from 5057 aluminum, and the hardware that ties it all together is nothing less than stainless 12-point bolts from ARP. The hardware can be ordered in a gold, black, or neochrome finish.

All of CCW’s wheels are rotary fatigue tested, or “cornering fatigue test,” at a 3,000-pound test load for 300,000 cycles. An OEM wheel is generally tested with a 2,400-pound load for 92,000 cycles, which simulates about 150,000 miles of abuse. CCW essentially uses a 25 percent higher test load and triples the amount of cycles, which simulates thousands upon thousands of miles under constant abuse. We wanted a track-worthy wheel that can be driven with no problems on the street and we got just that from CCW.

“Everything is tested for road race standards as if its going to end up in an IMSA or SCCA race,” said Kern. “All of the designs were born on the track, and they’re tested and abused to perform and last for years under track use, which is far more violent in nature than any kind of street use. It’s about being light, stiff, and durable.”

Toyo Proxes R888

Toyo Tires’ Proxes R888 is a DOT-approved competition tire. The R888 tire is used in many spec races throughout Europe, and it even comes as an original equipment option on the track-ready Renault Megane R26.R. Toyo offers the Proxes R888 in a surplus of OE fitments, plus-sized fitments, and street and track fitments for vintage racers to modern high-performance vehicles.

“The track-derived racing compound is designed to provide high grip and consistent lap times with minimal heat degradation,” Dayton explained. “The Proxes R888 produces more cornering force at a lower slip angle than the Proxes RA1. In order to get the most out of the Proxes R888, a less aggressive, smoother driving style will produce quicker lap times. The R888 also works better at lower camber angles compared to the RA1, generally in the range of -1 to -3 degrees of camber.”

Toyo has optimized the casing and tread design to maximize dry performance without losing wet traction, and to keep the driver in full control in extreme driving situations. The semi-slick shoulder of the Proxes R888 improves grip for better steering response, while the stiff bead construction and wider tread area increases cornering force for more competitive handling. The increased tread area and limited void improve dry traction, while the V-shaped grooves help expel water and assist with wet traction.

To accommodate our wide CCW wheels, we opted for 275/35ZR18s for the front, and 315/30ZR18s for the rear. As the Proxes R888s are a competitive DOT-approved tire, the treadwear is rated at 100, meaning that the compound is on the softer side, which is perfect for our build; the more grip, the better!

TredWear Tire Tatz

The 1-inch Tire Tatz mocked up on the tire along with the 1.5-inch, and 2-inch size to gauge how they will fit on the sidewall.

To spice up the look of our sticky Toyo Proxes R888s, we installed Tire Tatz from TredWear. Tire Tatz are made of rubber and make it possible for you to turn your blackwall tire into a raised white letter tire. TredWear offers a Designer Series Tire Letter Kit, which allows you to create a custom design for the company to produce, or request specific manufacturer lettering. They also offer an officially licensed Toyo Tire letter kit, which we were supplied with for our Proxes R888s. Other graphics are available as well, and you can even pick up some tracer stripes to set off the Tire Tatz.

TredWear also has a cool calculator on their site for checking what size lettering will fit on your tires. For the Toyo Proxes R888, they offer the Tire Tatz in 1-inch, 1 1/2-inch, and 2-inch sizes. Our sidewalls are on the smaller side, so we chose to go with the one-inch size because they fit great without looking too big.

Mounting Tires And Applying Tire Tatz

With wheels like our CCWs, we like to be extra careful when mounting tires to ensure that no damage is done to the wheels. Fortunately for us, we have a tire mounting machine and balancer in-house, so we didn’t need to worry about taking the wheels and tires to a local shop to have them mounted.

The 18 x 9.5-inch front wheel getting a nice dose of 275/35ZR18 Proxes R888 rubber.

Since the Toyo Proxes R888s are directional tires, we mounted the driver’s side tires first to avoid any confusion between the passenger side tires. The tires went on the wheels easily without putting up a fight, and balanced out even easier. Very little sticky weights were used to balance the wheels and tires, which pleased us because we were able to keep the weight to a minimum on each wheel.

Once the tires were mounted on the wheels and completely balanced, we installed the Tire Tatz. First, we decided where we were going to place the lettering, which wasn’t hard to figure out. Once we had the Tire Tatz mocked up in the spot we wanted them, we applied some blue masking tape to the lips of the wheels. The reason for the blue tape is because the sidewall lettering needs to be knocked down a bit to ensure that the Tire Tatz have a smooth area to adhere to.

One of the rear tires with the one-inch Tire Tatz installed.

We knocked down the sidewall lettering with 80-grit sandpaper, which worked out great. To be sure the lettering adhered evenly and not skewed, we applied more blue masking tape over the part of the lettering that wasn’t being adhered. This allowed us to essentially adhere half of the decal at a time. The first tire came out great, so we replicated the same process for the other three tires. Applying the Tire Tatz is a time-consuming process, but it made our CCW wheels and Toyo Proxes R888s pop that much more.

The wheels and tires on the car with the body mocked up on the chassis. She’s already a beauty, but will be even prettier when she’s finished!

We’re really pumped about how the wheels, tires, and tread lettering look as a completed combo. As SEMA is right around the corner, we’re pushing hard to get the car done. After SEMA we will really put the tires and wheels to the ultimate test out on the track, which we’re also really excited for. Project Cobra Jet Challenge is going to be one insanely fun machine when it is completed. Stay tuned for more updates on this build!