To a car enthusiast, there is almost nothing more exciting than getting new parts for their car. Since the car is essentially a visible expression of an enthusiast’s passion, each part tends to be painstakingly agonized over and, when it comes to wheels, choosing the right one can be quite the undertaking. For many, the right wheel is a deeply personal choice; the final piece of an epic build, or the first upgrade that will set the tone for the rest of the project. With so much selection, it can be incredibly challenging to find the “perfect” wheel. Selecting the right wheel for grassroots motorsports requires similar considerations to a street wheel; finding the right balance between weight, strength, aesthetics (emphasis/importance will vary), and cost.
When I took delivery of the new APEX Race Parts SM-10, I was incredibly excited to open the boxes and take a closer look at one of their newest offerings for the VW Golf. It’s incredibly refreshing to have a Flow-Formed wheel built specifically for this vehicle with the common 5x112 bolt pattern, suitable offset (ET42), standard ball seats, and, most importantly, a 57.1mm centre bore that will not require hub rings. Adding to this, the SM-10 is built to accommodate big brake kits and I’m especially pleased that this 18x9” wheel will accommodate the StopTech ST-60 380x32mm kit that will be fitted to my vehicle. So, let’s take a closer look at these wheels.
Opening the box, I was pleasantly encouraged to find a wheel that has been carefully packaged, ensuring each wheel is kept safe and secure throughout the delivery process. With cardboard and a fabric “bonnet” protecting the face, plastic rings surrounding both sides of the wheel, and a plastic bag keeping moisture out, all four wheels arrived from California without a trace of abuse.
Taking a closer look, the anthracite finish is very smooth, even, and the high-quality clear coat makes the wheel just glisten in the light, without being overly sparkly. It is also noteworthy that care was taken to ensure the bolt seats have been left completely unfinished to ensure the wheel can be fastened safely to the vehicle.
Before diving into the design of the wheel, I must confess that I do not place a strong
emphasis on aesthetics, especially when I’m considering a wheel that will be primarily used
on the race track. But I’m also a big fan of multi-spoke wheel designs and the SM-10’s 10-spoke design is lovely in its simplicity. The voids on the side of the spokes are reminiscent of I-beams and lend to the wheel’s high structural integrity while liberating the wheel of any unnecessary mass. Having a strong wheel that can withstand the rigours of prolonged lapping and potential off-track excursions is incredibly important because having a wheel fail at speed can lead to horrifying consequences. Fast, consistent lap times and keeping the car shiny-side up always makes for a good day at the track so, a strong wheel that remains intact is simply non-negotiable.
Speaking of mass, placing these wheels on my home scale, they came in at just under 21 pounds, which places them on par with the OEM 19x8” Pretoria wheels the Golf R came equipped with. There is an argument that could be had that a lighter wheel could have been chosen and any performance-focused vehicle could benefit from reducing as much unsprung mass as possible but, considering the balance between weight, strength, and cost, I am more than willing to forego the potential weight saving of an aftermarket wheel, if it is significantly stronger and allows for greater tire selection and contact patch. Also, the StopTech ST-60 Big Brake kit will also remove approximately 22 pounds of unsprung mass from the front of the Golf.
As lovely as these wheels are to look at, the next step is to get them shod with a set of Tire Streets Accelera 651 tires and head to the track to begin putting them through their paces; as we continue to chase after faster lap times and further develop the car. I’m very honoured to have this opportunity to drive for Easthood Racing, partner with the amazing team at APEX Race Parts, and run their SM-10 on track. This journey is far from over and be sure to stay tuned as there is a surprise in store with these wheels.
Until then, stay smooth, fast focused, and Know No Boundaries.
*To learn more about the SM-10 Wheels, click here