Wheels

Over the years, Big Red always has been red with white Z/28 stripes. It’s been a couple different shades of red, but it’s always been red; it’s in the name and it’s in Dan and RJ’s blood. In the beginning, RJ thought black-centered wheels would look good with the red-and white exterior. RJ’s not sure who picked the gold-centered wheels, but he’s glad they did. It had to be Dan or possibly Bill Osborne who made that call, or the first set of Jongbloed wheels just happened to be available in gold. We’ll probably never know the exact story, but gold is a great look on Big Red. It’s the signature color since day one in 1988 when Big Red first rolled out of Bill’s shop. The car has had five different wheel styles over the years, and they’ve all had aluminum hoops and gold centers. In 2004, Big Red hit the scene with BBS wheels, and that’s the brand it’s stuck with ever since. BBS service is easy to work with, and it has great products. The wheels are strong while also being lightweight. BBS stopped producing its lightweight, magnesium-centered E28 wheels, but offers similar-looking E88 wheels in aluminum that are close to the same weight. It’s been stated elsewhere in this book that weight isn’t usually a concern for Big Red, but the rotational unsprung weight of a heavy wheel hurts performance more than adding the same amount of weight to the frame. BBS fits every need for the car and the team, so it was a good relationship to keep rolling.

BBS media blasted the tire-bead mounting surface of the wheel to improve the tire-bead seal and keep the tire from slipping on the wheel. With aggressive braking on a road course, the tires can slip on the wheel and hurt performance. After balancing the wheel with self-adhesive wheel weights, Mark tapes them in place with some metal tape as extra insurance to keep them in place. Mark takes “wheel man” to a whole new level. He had many duties; one of them was to take care of all the wheels. BBS painted the center sections, but the paint and clear was a little too thick to assemble the wheels, so Mark had to file them for a proper fit.

One of Mark’s specific jobs is assembling all the wheels. The BBS E28s
have the older magnesium wheel center. It’s easily identified by the shallow
dish around the lug holes. Comparatively, the BBS E88s are aluminum, with
a deeper dish around the lugs. The spokes also are undercut to lighten the
wheel. When all the polished 12-point ARP bolts were installed, he torqued
them to 14.5 lb-ft. Later, after Big Red drove on the wheels, he went back
and retorqued them one more time

There’s a rubber seal between the front and rear barrels, but Mark isn’t
taking any chances with Big Red’s wheels. He applied a bead of silicone
caulking over the top of the rubber seal for good measure. This process is done every couple of years because the sealant dries out and leaks. Big Red has multiple sets of BBS wheels for different applications with different widths and offsets, so Mark labels them as he assembles them. That
way, they can be identified easily when rounding up wheels for a race. BBS gold-centered wheels are so much a signature of Big Red that the team had large decals printed of them and applied the decal to the salt-flat-disc wheel covers. They install these aerodynamic covers when running specialapplication tires and wheels at Land Speed events (Bonneville and El Mirage). It’s just one of the extra lengths the team goes to for Big Red so it looks similar whether racing on salt, dirt, or asphalt.