How does it feel to be working in Forgeline Motorsports?
We are very proud of Forgeline Motorsports. We are proud that our family works together to make a highly regarded product with a very positive reputation in the industry, but it is also a lot of fun going to the race tracks and meeting a lot of race car drivers. It definitely has a few perks.
What is your company’s greatest milestone in the industry so far? How were you able to achieve this?
It’s difficult to have just one milestone. We celebrated our 20th anniversary last year, which is a pretty monumental milestone in the custom wheel industry. Becoming a vendor for Ford and Honda was very exciting for us. One year ago, our wheels were fitted to Porsche cars in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, and we won the 12 Hours of Sebring as well as the Petit LeMans. It is really cool to see our wheels competing with so many top-notch race teams.
Could you give us a rundown of your products?
In our 3-piece wheel category, we have a number of different wheel series. The first one, and why the company was started, is our Competition Series. This was then followed by the Performance Series, which is a competition style wheel for the street. Next is the Premiere Series, which I consider more of a lifestyle wheel. It is a lightweight, forged and strong wheel, but is not engineered to be absolutely the lightest weight as it has more style to it. Just recently, Concave Wheels were added to the line, which have become very popular. This is why we had to adapt to the market to create a Concave 3-piece wheel.
Even more recently, the market is changing to Monoblock wheels. The prices of forging and demand for a stronger wheel have created more demand for Monoblock, so we started with a lightweight performance wheel called the GA1R. Specifically designed to be strong and lightweight, it is still our most popular wheel by far. From that, we’ve made other racing wheels such as our Centerlock Racing Wheels.
Another new style is the Concave Monoblocks for the street. We are also currently working on a two-piece design carbon fiber outer rim forged aluminum center that will be designed for most exotic cars. I don’t know if it is revolutionizing the industry, but it will be revealed at the 2016 SEMA Show. We are very excited about showcasing this as an evolution of where we feel the wheel market is going.
How do forged alloy wheels differ from other types of alloy wheels in the market?
The key is forged. We use a 6061 T6 aluminum that has a very good tensile strength and has very good fatigue characteristics so heat does not affect it as much. 7075 is a stronger aluminum, but it deteriorates very quickly in heat. 2024 is not as strong, so the sweet spot for forged wheels is the 6061.
What sets our wheels apart from the others is that there is a grain flow structure through our entire wheel, whereas cast does not; hence making it brittle. Castings, when hit, will break and forging, when hit, will bend. We were able to use close to 30% less material in a forged alloy than a casting.
Which among your wheel series are the most popular among your customers?
The most popular series now is the Monoblock. This has even surprised us by how popular it has become. The growth in Monoblock has exceeded our expectations for both on the track and on the street.
Where do you get ideas and inspiration for your wheel designs?
Dave Schardt has a lot to do with our designs, but we see what the market has and we try to be innovative. What is interesting is that we still make every design today that we did 20 years ago in any 3-piece or Monoblock style. Most wheel manufacturers cannot say that because they make a design that is a fad rather than something more classic and timeless. Dave does a very good job doing that. We look at the past and we try to look into the future, as well.
What are your primary considerations when it comes to your wheels design?
It is performance. We can make a wheel lightweight and aesthetically pleasing on all concave designs. There are a lot of designs out there that we could make and people want us to make them, but we do not do it because it is not an engineered sound design, either because it is very heavy or it will not pass our testing. We have higher load rating requirements for our wheels.
Could you share with us the technology behind your wheels?
Our technology is the experience that we have had at the race track for 20 years. When we develop a wheel, every wheel design goes through an FEA (Finite Element Analysis), a computer program that shows us the points in the wheels. Technically, this program lies, and it does consistently. Through our years of experience where we see the finite element analysis saying it is okay, but it actually isn’t because we test on the race track, we know what to look for and we know how to read it. Our experience is really the technology we have. Recently, we have worked with our forging company, an aerospace company called Aluminum Precision Products, to develop a new alloy that has a 25% higher fatigue rating than what we were using just 5 months ago. We will officially release this soon.
What sets your alloy wheels apart from those offered by your competitors?
There are companies out there that focus on style and do a very nice job out of it by making cars look really cool, while there are other companies that make inexpensive products with the quality of the finish. Our wheels are very performance-oriented with the highest quality finish and we deliver any custom wheel on time. We have a “Midwestern Attitude” where we do what we say we’ll do and if you’re in the wheel industry, this is a rarity.
Just recently, you have re-launched the “Snowflake Design” Heritage Series TA3 Wheel line. What makes this series special?
It is special because personally, I grew up with Smokey and the Bandit and that car was somewhat iconic to me. When we were making the new Heritage Line Series in a new 3-piece series, and we looked at all of the designs that we felt that could come back, especially in the popular “Pro Touring” market, obviously, that very distinctive Trans Am honeycomb look went along with the other ones that we had. The CR3 looks like a Cragar/Torque Trust and we also have the RS, which is similar to our very first tight mesh wheel that was very popular in the 60s and 70s.
The Middle East is known for its discerning racing enthusiasts. As a street and racing performance wheel manufacturer, what is your vision for this region this year?
Well, we would actually love to be able to do more in this market. With our current manufacturing capacity, we have been focused on domestic and European markets in the past; however, now that we have just increased our capacity, we are looking at The Middle East market to show the enthusiasts there just what a custom performance wheel really is.
What steps are you taking to establish the Forgeline brand in the region?
We are looking into SEMA’s annual international trip to the Middle East and are interested in participating in this event in the future.
How do you ensure that your wheels are able to meet the needs of customers in this region, taking into account its climatic conditions?
A lot of the physical testing we do has to do with temperature. From our racing experience, there is nothing worse and more torturous than a racing wheel that can get up to 300 degrees trying to be ripped apart going 200 mph around the track. To get prepared to sell in the UAE climate, our wheels are FEA-tested and physically tested as well as statically and dynamically tested. Most are road-rated up to 2100 lbs., which far exceeds what most customers would need because there are not many sports cars that are 4,000 lbs. Now, once you start putting racing tires on them, that is what lowers the load rating. So, if a racer would start with a wheel at 1500 lbs. and puts a racing slick on it, that could lower the road rating to 800 lbs. due to more side loads on the wheel.
What sets your Competition Series apart from the other wheels you offer?
It is the experience that we have. Wheel companies come and go and the new ones start making wheels for race cars. It is really difficult to make a lightweight performance wheel when you don’t have the knowledge that we have.
You offer wheel repair services. Could you tell us more about these and the warranty?
On 3-piece wheels, we can repair anything we have sold—inners and outers. We actually even have people that just want to change the color of their wheels for a different look. We can change outers, let’s say, if they were to get curbed. We repair most Monoblocks, but it is upon inspection when we receive them. Our goal is to make sure our customers have a long- term wheel solution. When they buy our wheels, it’s more for a lifetime than just the lifetime of that particular car.
What are the latest trends in alloy wheel for racing cars?
Due to the GT3 homologation rule through FIA, a front wheel has a minimum weight of 9 kilograms and the rear is 9.5 milligrams. So, the real trick is making a wheel that has less deflection than anyone else’s. Through our experience and FEA Analysis and our relationships with race teams that provide us with valuable feedback, we feel we are able to produce a higher performance racing wheel, particularly the GT3.
What is your advice to first time alloy wheel buyers?
We ask them first what they want to do with the wheel. If it is for the race track, we ask them if they need a forged wheel. There are plenty of lightweight cars out there that won’t go that fast and that would be just fine on a good quality flow formed wheel. So, we want to make sure that the requirements are suitable for a forged wheel. Most customers want to reduce the weight on their car and get more performance from it. When you want more performance out of your wheels, that is when you start looking at our product line.
How do you want Forgeline to be remembered for?
We want to be remembered for our involvement in the “Pro Touring” sector, sponsoring and participating in both the OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car Series as well as the Goodguys Autocross Series. Plus, it makes us feel good to see how popular our brand has become. We know the “Pro Touring” market is big business in the UAE. We also want to be known for our integrity. At the end of the day, that is what we feel we have and we want people to remember us for making a quality product and doing it in the right way, treating people fairly and also having fun doing it.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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