Project LS3 Corvette is really starting to get interesting. As you may recall – we started things off by adding some much needed Kooks 1-7/8 Long Tube Headers and a 3-inch X-Pipe which we bolted to a Corsa Z06 3-inch Cat-Back Exhaust. That worked out extremely well, but we wanted more. Although we had run in the 12.0 range at the track, with the new modifications, the Vette lit the tires up like the 4th of July.
As many of us know when upgrading your vehicle, it doesn’t matter how much horsepower you’re making if you can’t get the power to the pavement. Also, we had a problem with our Corvette looking like every other single Corvette out there. So, we needed some more traction and a custom look. It as time for new shoes for our Vette.
Enter Forgeline and Toyo Tires. Forgeline Wheels is an LSX Magazine sponsor and one of the finest aftermarket racing and street wheel manufacturers in the world. We’ve seen their craftsmanship and quality first hand, and we also know that Forgeline has some of the best fitments for C6 Corvettes available. When it came to finding sticky tires, there was only one choice in the 18-inch and 19-inch sizing we needed. Toyo Proxes 888 road-race tires, which are a new-gen Toyo that provide a great balance between super-sticky grip and street drivability.
The Shoes: Toyo Proxes R888
Wanting to get some road racing and a wee bit of auto-x done while keeping this car street legal, we needed something that could handle the corners well and last long enough so we weren’t changing tires every month. With that in mind went about deciding what tire to mate to our Vette. But, more than anything, tire fitments are an issue. It just so happens, that as of this writing, Toyo is the only Tire Company that makes a 19-inch DOT Road Race tire in a 295 or 305mm width.
The fact that Toyo Tires operates one of the most aggressive and comprehensive testing programs in the industry further made it a good choice for us. After a very quick and easy call to our Toyo representative, we were recommended the Proxes R888. The next-generation D.O.T. approved competition radial had no convincing work to do after a review of it’s spec sheet.
According to Toyo, this tire features an advanced casing and a V-shaped tread pattern to help with water evacuation. Combined with a stiff bead construction and wide tread width enable the R888 to generate more cornering force, with less heat degradation. The super sticky 100-tread wear tire had us wanting to be at the track from the second they got off the truck. Now if you’re thinking DOT approved means throwing out performance you really should take another look at this tire. This isn’t you’re Mom’s all season she had on her station wagon. This tire was developed and tested on everything from the track to the computer.
A quick glance of the tire reminds us that this thing means business.
Forgeline SS3P 3 Piece Wheels
Finding the right wheel to fit a Corvette can be a bit of a challenge. Trying to get a wheel that fits into your car perfectly and look the same way can be even harder. Forgeline Motorsports is a custom wheel maker out of Ohio. We’ve heard from multiple sources that these guys are top of the food chain when it comes to aftermarket wheels. The fact that their wheels were directly developed from their prototypes used by Grand Am, American Le Mans Series, and SCCA Pro Racing teams only made our mouths water.
Picking The Wheels
When picking wheels there are a few things specific to your car should be keep in mind, such as offset or room in the wheel well if your thinking of up sizing your wheels. We spoke with David Schardt from Forgeline about the type of wheels that work best for Corvettes. He told us that wheels for the C5 and C6 are the same in the front, but in the rear the C5 has a lower offset allowing for a 1/2-inch bigger lip. For those with a Z06, you can really stretch things with a 13-inch wide wheel.
When picking a particular wheel width and diameter, the same things must be keep in mind. The C6 can handle a larger diameter size with no problem. According to Schardt, you need to really consider whether you are going to move from the stock 18/19 to a 19/20 plus size. “The advantages to plus sizing are better handling, and in my opinion, better looks, David explained. “Now there are limits to that, and on the Corvette we only recommend a plus one upgrade (19″-20″). Anything bigger than that does not fit correctly and is detrimental to the handling.”
If you don't like our taste in wheels, Forgeline has many options to indulge yourself with.
We chose Forgeline’s SS3P wheel. We can honestly say that we are in love with these wheels. There is nothing that we don’t like about them. Forgeline has 15 years under their belt when it comes to making wheels, and they’ve figured out not just the performance, but the looks.
Originally, Forgeline’s wheels were 2-piece designs for the track. Eventually, Forgeline’s street wheels have evolved into the stunning 3 piece works of art they are today. They can build any wheel you could come up with in just a matter of weeks. “It’s hard for us to say no to pretty much anything,” says David Schardt, Director of Marketing, of Forgeline. In addition to offering custom sizings and offsets, you can get your wheel customized exactly the way you want. Even down to the bolts. With independent testing constantly progressing its no wonder that the Corvette Racing Team and other road racing teams have been running Forgeline for years.
Forged from 6061 T6 aluminum these wheels are ready for anything you can throw at them.
These wheels were custom built with the C6 Corvette in mind. Forgeline makes their 3 piece SS3P wheel in both 19” and 18” respectfully. With hundreds of finishing combos, we took our time picking the right color combo. We ending up going with a chrome outer lip, a gun medal center section, and a very unique color for the barrel. We were going to get the barrel painted the same color as the center section but Forgeline had something else in mind. They have found a color code that closely matches brake dust.
Forgeline was also able to make the exact offset we want to keep everything tucked in real clean. They even made it so when we put a big brake kit on this car there will be room behind the wheel for it. We didn’t have to do anything, Forgeline asked all the right questions to make sure hat we were getting the best product for our car. Its something that is really rare these days and is a shame that more companies don’t do this.
One of the coolest advantages of owning a 3 piece wheel really comes into play when on the street. Being that this car is no trailer queen and we don’t have huge factory sponsorship to pay for anything. If we break, chip, or just plain hate the color down the road it comes out of our pocket. That being said the 3 piece design of our Forgelines allows us to change out the individual components if needed. If we were to run that glass like chrome outer rim into the curb, instead of paying thousands for a new wheel or hacking a repair job we could just replace the piece that was damaged for a couple hundred bucks. Or if we just want to change the wheel color for the hell of it or to match a new paint job again we wouldn’t have to buy a whole new wheel.
Another cool feature of the Forgelines is the tire pressure sensor mount that comes built in the wheels.
Why Forgeline? Easy, if you are serious about your car and customization is a key point then you have no other option.
This was hands down the easiest install we done to date in the PowerTV garage. We took our wheels and tires off the Vette and down to Discount Tire Center to have them mounted and balanced.
For those that don’t know, the Corvette requires special pucks that fit into the frame to lift it. If you or your shop isn’t using these you can damage the body or frame.
No warning light with these wheels
As soon as the first R888 was mounted to one of the Forgelines it was clear that we made the right decision. Just sitting in the tire shop waiting to be balanced these tires made people working in the shop stop and stare. Even though these guys see tires and wheels all day every single one of them had something good to say about our Corvette’s new shoes. We felt like proud fathers of a newborn. And like new fathers we couldn’t wait to take our babies home.
Tips from Toyo
Not wanting to punt the Corvette into a tire wall on the first turn, we got some set up advice from Toyo. They told us that our tires reach peak performance at around 200°F. They also shed some light on how to set up our car for the track.
Hideki Ueha of Toyo explained that in the inside of the tire will be the hottest. From there the temperature should drop around 20° across the tire. If the inside temperature is too hot that means we are running too much camber and need to back off just a bit from our 2-3° starting point. He has told us that while around 28 PSI cold should be a good starting pressure if we notice the middle of the tire running hot, that is a good indicator that we held the button on the air pump just a little too long. This goes for any applications of the R888.
While you can’t dyno a car to see the gain from this upgrade, you can tell the difference from the seat. Some light testing around the shop and a few passes down the drag strip had us smiling all day. We didn’t manage to make a good pass, but our 60-foots improved about 2 tenths. We’re looking forward to making some better runs (no missed shifts!) and reporting on the quarter mile.
On the street, the Vette’s corning speed was greatly increased due to the wider and much sticker tire. The car’s exterior styling was improved as well. Ditching the plain Jane look and going with something with more upscale made our Corvette look like a winner.