February 25, 2024

Sports Enthusiast

Professional Sports Purveyors

Magnesium’s Racing Origins

Mag wheels are the premier elements of a truly “tricked out” car. Few people seem to know that the popular tire holders are actually an old favorite in the race-car circuit. The industry built on speed recognized early on that the weight of the car has a huge effect on just how fast the car can go. That made the lure to magnesium wheels, or mag wheels, such an attractive move.

The luxury auto manufacturer Bugatti offered cast magnesium wheels for cars as far back as the early 1920’s. They were largely unnoticed, however, until the 1940’s. The racing industry began looking for lighter parts that were still strong enough to withstand wind resistance and other factors faced on the race track.

Before mag wheels became popular, the wheel assembly was made of pressed steel and aluminum. The steel provided the strength and the aluminum had the noncorrosive advantages, but the wheel weighed a ton and did not perform as well on the racetrack. The mixture of magnesium and aluminum that was then cast into a wheel was the breakthrough. It was also probably the component on the race-car that made other aerodynamic parts possible. The most famous brand, Halibrand, was used on every winning car in the Indy 500 race from 1946 to 1963, according Roadsters.com.

Mag wheels still hold the distinction of being the best wheel for the performance and appearance. Despite its favorable traits borrowed from the alloy metals used to make the wheel, they do require extra care. Frequent cleaning and polishing keeps away the debris that leads to early erosion. Owners use protecting spray on the wheels in order to decelerate the damage. If the wheels begin to develop a white powder on them in certain place, it is time to look for replacements because the mag wheels are about to form craters in the surface.

Today, mag wheels aren’t the only things made of magnesium alloy. Car frames, chassis, and soon the batteries inside the cars will contain magnesium in some shape or form. In addition to being lighter than steel while being just as strong, with better noncorrosive and dampening abilities, magnesium alloys also offer the racing industry an opportunity to join the push for more eco-friendly practices in every manufacturing industry.