Racers often ask about how to find good plastic wheels or if there's a place to buy wheels...and yeah, you can find wheel packs online but the best way is to do the wheel farming yourself.
Wheel farming is the process of finding the wheels that perform best on the track. To do that, you'll need to buy a lot of donor cars, take them apart, and test the wheels at home.
I know it seems like an inefficient process that produces a lot of waste, but it is still the most cost-effective way to find wheels (and it's always fun to rip cars apart).
Why do you need to farm?
Because all wheels are not created equal. All our cars are mass produced cheaply and thus they can come with a host of small flaws like holes being not-quite-round, burrs, injection lines, and other general malformities. You might have a ton of wheels that all look the same, but they won't perform the same. It might seem like these are all pretty tiny details but if you're searching for speed, they can make a difference.
And even if you ignore the manufacturing defects, wheel farming is how you can find out which type of wheel will perform best for the track. Small wheels or large ones? Wide wheels or skinny wheels? Treads or no treads? Colored plastic or classic black? There is a wide variety of wheels spanning many decades and they each come with unique traits that could impact speed, stability, and handling.
Harvesting your crop
Once you have a pile of donor cars, taking them apart is easy-yet-tedious and putting them in a car for testing is pretty straight forward too. The real trick is how to measure the performance.
A drag strip with a finish timer is probably the best way since you'll get numbers you can crunch and analyze. Otherwise, you'll want some sort of control car to race against and then just eyeball the car length gap at the finish line. Either way, make sure you're tracking the wheel size, style, material, age, and any other attribute you think matters.
And if you're thinking, "I don't drag race, I run down the mountains," it's true that those tracks can be a little more random, but a fast car is still a fast car. Plus, you need to test to figure out which wheels work well for the type of track you're on, straight or not.
Yet even with all that, the most critical thing you need when farming is just good old-fashioned patience. It takes time and a lot of trial-and-error to find your formula. Just keep at it and have fun.
Which wheels are worth farming?
That really depends on where you're racing. If you're drag racing and just worried about being the fastest, skinny wheels are often a go-to since they should reduce some friction.
If you're racing on open lane or mountain courses, you might want wider wheels to help get more grip or to be a little sturdier when you're hitting the curves and banging against the other cars.
Just remember that wheels are only part of the puzzle. The car's weight, shape, and axles all play a part too.
So, which wheels have you found work best...
...when drag racing?
...when hitting road course corners?
To read more about wheels, check out the Wheels & axles collection for topics and articles on wheel farming, custom axles, testing, and more.