I love drag racing, and I go to the track quite frequently, but I can’t help but wish I could’ve been a part of drag racing in its heyday. It’s still cool, but back in the ’60s the cars, the people and the tracks made it so much better…at least in my opinion, which is based purely on stories from my dad and his friends, as well as photos from years ago. Innovation was a big part of drag racing in the ’50s and ’60s, and reducing weight was always high on the list of modifications. Wheels became an easy target for weight reduction, and two individuals paved the way for lightweight wheel production.
The first was Ted Halibrand, founder of Halibrand Engineering. He first developed wheels (and other lightweight parts) for midget racers and Indy cars, but would later create a line of drag racing wheels, which were popular on funny cars, dragsters and altered roadsters. Another innovator was Romeo Palamides, who went on to create American Racing Equipment. These days, all drag racing wheels are made of aluminum, but when the idea arose for lightweight racing wheels, magnesium was the material of choice.
They’re pricey and they’re hard to find, but a good set of magnesium wheels is like gold in the hot rodding and nostalgia drag racing hobby. Maybe even better than gold. Anyway, I’ve really started searching for vintage racing wheels for the past couple of years. Swap meets are the main place to look, but you never know where you’ll find the right deal. My dad and I go to a bunch of car shows and swap meets, so we’re constantly scanning the aisles for “the good stuff” like vintage intake manifolds, valve covers, wheels, etc.
Good deals on magnesium wheels are few and far between because most folks know what they have. They can do a Google search to find that most pairs of magnesium wheels fetch 600-800 bucks, even in poor condition. Good ones can go for as much as 2,000. If you know me, then you know I’m not going to fork over two grand for a pair of wheels, unless they’re worth twice that much. So, in my research, I’ve found a bunch of cool wheels that I’d love to find someday. I’ve also photographed TONS of wheels at various nostalgia drag racing events that I cover, so I have plenty of reference material.
There isn’t much to this blog–just wanted to talk about vintage wheels and my love for them. All of the photos are wheels that I’ve run across in the past few years, and I hope to find more that I can actually buy! Most of them are out of my league, but I guess I need to be ready for the right deals to come along.