We’ve been thrashing for over a year now on Project Rehab 2.0, getting the car ready to roll down the streets and hit the drag strip. One of the areas that has been on our list to address since day one, were the wheels. We needed a wheel that was lightweight for the strip, and strong enough for the street. We have plans to continually update and upgrade our Fox body project car, requiring a wheel that can go with us from entry level power, to high performance passes. We also wanted the wheels to add to aesthetics of the car. To meet all of these criteria we turned to Billet Specialties for wheels and Mickey Thompson for the right rubber.
Selecting A Wheel
Selecting a wheel for a street/strip car is as much about function as it is the aesthetic. It’s true that a good looking wheel will make or break a car’s appearance. We chose to run the Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels on Project Rehab, which is becoming an increasingly popular choice in the Mustang market. Since this car is as much about drag strip performance as it is street cruising, we’re going with skinny wheels for the front and wide wheels for the rear. The Street Lite wheel also offers plenty of other advantages as well.
We chose to go with the five spoke Street Lite design which will lend modern styling with a classic look to Project Rehab.
Weighing just 16 pounds each these Billet Specialties Street Lite 15×10-inch wheels have 6.5-inches of backspacing and are a great way to stuff drag radials under our Fox body project.
The end result is a tighter grain structure that is lighter in weight and significantly stronger. -Scott Sandoval, Billet Specialties
The Street Lite wheel center begins life as a piece of rotary forged 6061 T6 aluminum. A billet is compressed with over 4,000 tons of force, at 300 rpm. This process rearranges the grain structure of the aluminum into a circular pattern making the wheel center stronger. “The end result is a tighter grain structure that is lighter in weight and significantly stronger,” says Billet Specialties’ Scott Sandoval. These wheels are a two piece design that is 360 degrees welded for strength.
Additionally the Street Lite wheel has been tested and certified to meet SFI’s rigid 15.1 standard. This is an extreme safety certification for wheels in a drag racing environment. It requires that a wheel be tested under extreme load conditions including bending and rotary testing. Passing this certification means the Street Lite wheel is safe to use on anything from a road going car, to a real quarter-mile beast. This certification allows several world record holding drag cars to be equipped with Street Lite wheels.
Left: With 1.50-inches backspacing on the rear, and a large center hole, the Street Lite will easily clear our Aerospace brakes. Right: Center cap is a bolt-on design that also clears the front brakes.
We recently converted Project Rehab to five-lug when we upgraded the brakes with Aerospace components parts. That five-lug conversion also means the old stock 10-hole wheels weren’t going to cut it anymore. Since Project Rehab isn’t on the road yet, for photography purposes we slapped our new Street Lite wheels on a friend’s Fox body coupe so you could see what the finished product looks like.
Billet Specialties offers the Street Lite in a variety of sizes and backspacing configurations. This includes our 15×3.5-inch with 1.50-inch backspacing for the front, part number BRS035356517N. As well as the 15×10-inch with 6.5-inch backspacing, part number BRS035106565N, for the rear. Sandoval says the 15×10 rear we ordered is designed specifically for Fox body and other late model muscle car applications, “Billet Specialties offers a special 15×10 barrel to accommodate the unique brake requirements for F-Body Camaro’s and Fox body Mustangs. This eliminates the need to purchase other brake systems or grind calipers,” says Sandoval.
The Street Lite is also available in a 17×4.5-inch version to accommodate enthusiasts running larger brake systems, but still need a skinny wheel and tire combination for the drag strip. “The Street Lite is now available in a 17X4.5 one-piece forged wheel offering two-inches of caliper clearance at two-inches of backspace. This offers a fitment for modern muscle cars as well as another option for classics as well,” says Sandoval.
We chose the black anodized finish for our wheels which outlines the spokes as well as the center of the wheel in a black finish for an attractive finish.
Weight savings is everything in the performance world, especially in drag racing. The 15×3.5-inch Street Lite wheel only weighs in at 10 pounds. Combined with the 20 lbs weight of our front tires, that puts each front corner at around 30 pounds.
Our 15×10-inch Street Lite rear wheels weigh in at just 16 pounds each, while our ET Street Drag Radials weigh 31 pounds, making the rear combination 47 pounds each. This is a significant weight reduction considering that most OE cast wheels will weigh somewhere in the 55-65 pounds range with tires mounted.
These wheels are not simply limited to street/strip setups. Since Billet Specialties offers the Street Lite wheel in a variety of sizes, we could have ordered a different fitment, like 15×8 front and 15×10, or even 17×9.5 all the way around. There are numerous combinations, making this wheel one that appeals to a wide variety of enthusiasts. Billet Specialties offers these wheels all the way up to a 17×11-inch.
We are currently utilizing 1/2-inch wheel studs on our car. If in the future, we decide to change to 5/8-inch studs, we simply need to replace the lug nuts we’re using only, the wheels themselves are designed to work with either a 1/2-inch shank style lug or a 5/8 lug. “We recognize that customers will upgrade their cars over time, designing our wheels to accept either type of stud will save the customer money in the long term,” says Sandoval.
The Street Lite is offered in two different finishes. There’s the more traditional mirror polished appearance, which we’ve become accustomed to seeing appear on these wheels. Then there’s what we specified. To give Project Rehab more attitude, we ordered our Street Lite wheels with the black anodized finish and machined spokes. This gives an aggressive look, and should lend some sinister attitude to the car.
For rubber we can rely on to perform well on the track, and keep us legal on the street, we turned to Mickey Thompson for some Sportsman SR front tires, and ET Street Radials for the rear.
Odds and Ends
Billet Specialties offers a special 15X10 barrel to accommodate the unique brake requirements for F-Body Camaro’s and Fox body Mustangs. This eliminates the need to purchase other brake systems or grind calipers. -Scott Sandoval
The Street Lite wheel uses a bolt on center cap, which is included with the wheels. The large wheel center, will easily clear our Aerospace Components front brakes. The center caps are also large enough to clear those brakes, giving our front end a more finished appearance. Additionally, that bolt on design, means that we don’t have to keep track of a cap when we have the wheel off, or worry about losing one on the street or at the track.
These wheels do require a special lug nut, regardless of the diameter wheel stud. 1/2-inch studs will require a shank style lug to allow the wheel to be lug centered. For us that is Billet Specialties, part number 999996.
No That’s not Project Rehab. A friend loaned us his car for this photo shoot so we could show off how good the Street Lite Wheels look on a Fox body.
For tires we went to Mickey Thompson to provide us with the best possible combination for the street and track. For our rear tires we’re running Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials, part number 3753R, on the rear, in size 275/50/15. These have been proven to put down plenty of fast times at the drag strip, on cars that regularly turn in time slips way faster than Project Rehab will ever go.
The ET Street Radials are designed specifically for automatic transmission equipped cars. The soft compound combined with a special sidewall design that allows the sidewall to wrinkle on hard launches and provide a larger contact area and better traction for launching at the track. On the street, the radial design will keep the car rolling comfortably on dry pavement. This really is a tire we can leave on the car for the duration, driving to the track, racing, and returning home, without having to swap our tires.
From these photos you can see, the fitment is perfect for a Fox body, with just enough clearance to the fender lips, and plenty of rubber to fill the gaps just right.
Up front, to match our drag radials are a pair of Mickey Thompson Sportsman SR tires. These were designed to provide a tire that can handle the rigors of street driving, with the demands of drag racers. The tread pattern is intended to compliment that of the ET Street Radial, and the Sportsman SR is rated to 130 MPH. We specified 26x6x15 tires, part number 6652. The front tire height matches the height of our rear tires giving the car what we consider a better stance, and just the right amount of sidewall up front for street or strip driving.
With our new wheels and tires installed on Project Rehab, our Fox body is finally ready to hit the street, and the strip. We can’t wait to see how the car performs with its new wheels and tires.
With our wheels in place, Project Rehab is just a few projects away from heading back out on the streets and to the drag strip.