The Question Is Not About Lug Nuts
I bid you welcome gentle readers and extend a warm welcome to the month of March. You get that March? “WARM!” There’s a strong hint there… it’s been too cold for too long, so just skip the “Lion” thing and go right for turning up the thermostat like a Lamb.
Meanwhile, our friends at NASCAR let us in on one of the expected changes for next year. Seems they will save teams a lot of money by doing away with 5 lug nuts per tire change and go to the F1/IndyCar single large nut at the center of each tire.
I’ve seen several others take some pokes at what really isn’t a proposed change, but a done deal, and that’s every bit as profitable as spitting into the wind or drinking downstream from the herd. None of those will offer the desired effect!
Being me, a person of sound body… on a good day, and as sound a mind as I can muster at my age, I decided to look beneath the surface to see what might have prompted the change, other than just being cantankerous. Seems that lugs are not the only change involved here. For reasons not made clear as of yet, the wheels themselves will change from steel construction to aluminum.
From John Probst, NASCAR’s Senior VP of Racing Innovation (Say that 3 times fast),
"For us we felt like from a standpoint of the wheel is that we wanted to get to an 18-inch wheel, an aluminum wheel. Once you get to an 18-inch aluminum wheel, the next step for us is to make sure that from a durability standpoint under racing conditions that it will accept the durability that we need to finish races and then also finish multiple races. To do that, the single nut was our only option."
Well, I’ve done some looking around and asking around, since the last time I changed a tire was never… but at 18 I knew how and was capable. Today at 81, it’s AAA to the rescue.! Seems no one can find a car with 18-inch wheels on the road today that uses the single-lug system… or even one with 20-inch wheels. Stock cars do not use that system… so my only conclusion would be that neither do they use aluminum wheels! Still, with a perfectly straight face, they continue to bill themselves as a “Stock Car Series.” I’ve called BS on that many times, but none more clear-cut than this one. They are no doubt saving money… their own… by going to a tire that OEMs won’t use for street use, then claiming to be forced to go to the single-lug format to insure durability. Sorry folks, but that really raises the question of what is best for the ones that DRIVE those cars?
As an old lady and merely an observer, I’m not qualified to talk down the idea, but as a race fan I surely am qualified to ask questions about it and expect honest answers. I’d like to know exactly what prompted the move from steel to aluminum. It’s not hard for anyone to know at a glance that steel is the more durable and stronger component. Aluminum always brings to my mind foil wrap or collapsible lawn furniture. It is NOT known as the sturdiest of metals and can’t hold a candle to steel in that department. Since we’re talking racing, I’m tempted to assume the change has to do with weight, as Aluminum is much lighter than Steel, but I can’t back that up and it was not explained in the last love letter from NASCAR.
Again from Mr. Probst,
"The steel wheel is more forgiving and can handle loose wheels a little bit better," Probst said. "When we get to the aluminum wheel, we did some durability studies, and if you leave lug nuts loose on an aluminum wheel, you reduce the durability of the wheel by around 30%. It’s more of, the aluminum wheel has less tolerance to loose lug nuts, so when we have one, there really is only one thing to concentrate on, and that is to get that lug nut tight. Then everything else from a durability standpoint is fine."
Okay, now it’s my turn. Mr. Probst, why was the switch from steel to aluminum made and to whose benefit? You admit here that steel is more durable, so why is the change being made to a less durable metal… aluminum? To me, that is the $64,000 question; not the number of lug nuts used to secure the wheel. I’ve always been a believer that we should choose our battles carefully, and the number of lug nuts used to secure 4 wheels will not affect the price of coffee or steak. However, sending drivers out to race on a less durable choice of metals has a chance of adversely affecting the life of one or more of those drivers, and that is my concern.
Gentle readers, what I’m saying here is important. I’ve seen this game played often over the years. NASCAR will keep you concerned about the number of lug nuts used in a pitstop yet does not reveal the reason behind the change. Everywhere I’ve listened or read since this news came out, it’s all about the lug nuts. I suggest we forget about the danged lug nuts entirely and find out, if we can, why the wheels on the new car will be aluminum in the first place. Mr. Probst assures us that steel is indeed the more durable metal. Now I’d like him to explain to all of us just why they will change from steel to a second or third-grade metallic component on the new tires. If you know anyone at NASCAR, don’t be afraid to send a link to this page and let it ask the question for you.
With that, I’ll end my tirade for today and hope to hear from someone with the right answer, as I’m quite sure I’m asking the right question.
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and today we have another compilation of great moments from Country’s Family Reunion. I’m never sure whether to laugh or cry with these, as I’m seeing a lot of old friends, most of whom have gone on before us to sing at Heaven’s altar. Please enjoy!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!