You can see the top lug nut is resting on the end of the bullnose stud, waiting to be torqued. Using our 90-foot-pound torque stick with a six-point socket and a high-grade electric impact wrench, we blast our wheels on as quickly as possible using the standard “every other” lug pattern of bolting on a wheel. The torque stick twists and ensures our lugs are not over-tightened.

An endurance race of any significant length will require a pit stop for tires. A tire swap can be one of the most time-consuming pit stops if it is not done correctly. What NASCAR pit crews make look very easy is actually a pretty complex ballet of movements. There are a lot of things that can go wrong during one of these stops, causing a delay in the pits, which can be disastrous. After walking the paddock during a few 25 Hours of Thunderhill events, I realized tire changing is an art form some NASA endurance teams have overlooked. Here are a few tricks of the trade to help every racer get out of the pits quicker and with little risk of running into a problem.

First, let me say that I am a paranoid person. I know that if anything can go wrong, it will. I believe in this guy Murphy and all of his pessimistic laws. I know that if we are leading a race and we need to come in for a right front tire, chances are we will cross- thread a lug nut and spend 15 minutes trying to get the thing off the car and lose the race. Because of my racing anxiety, I try to ensure that we are prepared for every possible emergency that can arise from a simple four lug nuts off, old wheel off, new wheel on, four lug nuts back on. Sounds simple doesn’t it? When trying to do it in a hurry, it isn’t simple at all. Jacks suddenly don’t work, lug nuts go mysteriously missing, batteries in electric impact guns die, or nuts get cross threaded. You name it, and it has happened to teams during crucial pit stops.

To be quicker out of the pits and to avoid losing lug nuts, we adopted methods from the boys at NASCAR. We installed bullnose studs on our hubs and glue lug nuts to our new wheels so the wheel swap is quicker. The bullnose stud gives the lug nuts, which are glued to the wheels, a place to land once the wheel is slapped onto the car. Then a six-point socket on an impact gun can quickly thread the lugs down. We use 3M weatherstrip adhesive (Part No. 03602) to glue the lugs to the wheels. We don’t want the bond to be too strong, only enough to hold the lugs in place as the wheel is placed on the hub. For this reason, we try to glue the nuts onto the wheels within a 30-minute window of our pit stop. We want the lug to break away from the wheel and land on the end of the bullnose stud. From there, the impact gun will thread it into place.

The 3M weatherstrip adhesive works great for holding lugs on the wheel. You don’t need a ton of the stuff to work. Ensure the wheel and lug nuts are clean, then put a small bead of glue around the bevel of the lug where it mates to the wheel. We don’t glue our lugs on until about 30 minutes before a pit stop.
The 3M weatherstrip adhesive works great for holding lugs on the wheel. You don’t need a ton of the stuff to work. Ensure the wheel and lug nuts are clean, then put a small bead of glue around the bevel of the lug where it mates to the wheel. We don’t glue our lugs on until about 30 minutes before a pit stop.
If your hub doesn’t have bullnose wheel studs, don’t bother with this process. You will need to replace your current studs with high-grade bullnose wheel studs, which allow you to use an impact gun to torque the lug nuts. ARP makes these in various sizes and thread types.
If your hub doesn’t have bullnose wheel studs, don’t bother with this process. You will need to replace your current studs with high-grade bullnose wheel studs, which allow you to use an impact gun to torque the lug nuts. ARP makes these in various sizes and thread types.

For this process to work, you will need to have extra sets of lug nuts — a set on the car and a set on the new wheels to go onto the car. Having lots of extra lug nuts around is a great idea in case one gets lost in the melee of the tire swap. Our crew members keep extras in their pockets. To tighten the lugs to a certain torque specification, we use a torque stick between the impact gun and the six-point socket. This stick will twist once it has reached its designated torque spec. These can be ordered in different foot-pound increments.

As an insurance policy for cross-threaded lug nuts — my big fear — we ensure that the hardness of our wheel stud is greater than that of our lug nuts. If one or the other has to fail, we want the lug nut to fail because it is easier to replace a lug nut than it is to press out a wheel stud in the middle of a race. But if one of our studs were to get its threads buggered up, or a piece of the lug nut is left behind in the stud threads, we have the exact thread pitch thread cleaners ready to clean the threads. For emergencies, we keep a “wheel box” filled with thread cleaners, extra lug nuts, 3M adhesive, and sockets ready to go in case something unspeakable happens during a stop.

This thread cleaner opens up so you can place it on the stud beyond a cross-threaded section. It is a quick fix to clean a section of threads. There is nothing more frustrating on a pit stop than a cross-threaded lug nut.
This thread cleaner opens up so you can place it on the stud beyond a cross-threaded section. It is a quick fix to clean a section of threads. There is nothing more frustrating on a pit stop than a cross-threaded lug nut.
For racing applications, you want an open-ended lug nut and a long stud with a bullnose end. You want to see a portion of the stud and threads come through the lug nut once it is torqued.
For racing applications, you want an open-ended lug nut and a long stud with a bullnose end. You want to see a portion of the stud and threads come through the lug nut once it is torqued.
For all our racecars, we have the correct thread pitch thread cleaner for the wheel studs. We use two separate types. The first one goes on the end of the stud and is turned clockwise to clean the threads on the stud inward. The second expands and can be placed in the middle of the stud and turned counter-clockwise to clean the threads on the stud outward. This one is key for getting stuff out of the threads. We keep a specific 1-inch, six-point socket with the thread cleaners to help turn the cleaners on the studs. I recommend using these to clean up your stud threads after each endurance race.
For all our racecars, we have the correct thread pitch thread cleaner for the wheel studs. We use two separate types. The first one goes on the end of the stud and is turned clockwise to clean the threads on the stud inward. The second expands and can be placed in the middle of the stud and turned counter-clockwise to clean the threads on the stud outward. This one is key for getting stuff out of the threads. We keep a specific 1-inch, six-point socket with the thread cleaners to help turn the cleaners on the studs. I recommend using these to clean up your stud threads after each endurance race.
We keep our wheel-change gear in a tidy little box to stay organized in the chaos of the pits. Everything we need for a wheel swap is in this box: extra lug nuts, 3M adhesive, thread cleaners, the specific-size socket for the thread cleaners, etc. We also keep an extra six-point socket available in case something goes awry with a stop, like a lug nut getting stuck inside the socket.
We keep our wheel-change gear in a tidy little box to stay organized in the chaos of the pits. Everything we need for a wheel swap is in this box: extra lug nuts, 3M adhesive, thread cleaners, the specific-size socket for the thread cleaners, etc. We also keep an extra six-point socket available in case something goes awry with a stop, like a lug nut getting stuck inside the socket.

We have found that this method is effective and is much quicker than trying to thread each lug nut by hand, especially hot lug nuts that just came off of the car. The torque stick is also quicker than having to use an impact gun to put the lug nuts on and then a separate torque wrench to torque each nut individually. We also use a lot of people over the wall to assist with a tire swap — a minimum of three: jack man, lug-nut man, and wheel man —so each person can do his or her job quickly.

It is easy to over-tighten and strip aluminum lug nuts during a hurried pit stop. To ensure we torque our wheels to an exact specification, we use a torque stick rated to our specific torque number. The torque stick, which looks like an extension, begins to twist at a certain point and will not torque the wheel beyond its rating. I have verified the accuracy with a good torque wrench and found them to be within 3 pounds. On the end of our torque stick, we always us a six-point deep socket.
It is easy to over-tighten and strip aluminum lug nuts during a hurried pit stop. To ensure we torque our wheels to an exact specification, we use a torque stick rated to our specific torque number. The torque stick, which looks like an extension, begins to twist at a certain point and will not torque the wheel beyond its rating. I have verified the accuracy with a good torque wrench and found them to be within 3 pounds. On the end of our torque stick, we always us a six-point deep socket.

The jack man has a marked spot on the side of the car so he can quickly place the jack at the right location. Our lug-nut man ensures the impact gun is charged, has the correct torque stick and socket on it and that it is ready to take lugs off. Our wheel man has a new wheel ready to go, lug nuts glued on and tire pressure correct. He also will remove the old wheel and get it out of the way so the lug nut man can switch the impact to clockwise direction and tighten the new wheel quickly.

To hold our lug nuts onto our wheels for a quick tire-swap pit stop, we use 3M weatherstrip adhesive. Ensuring the bevel angle on the lug nuts is a perfect match for the bevel angle on the wheels will make gluing the lugs to the wheels easier and ensure your wheel is held on the car in a safer manner. We use Circuit Sport lug nuts because they have matched this angle perfectly.
To hold our lug nuts onto our wheels for a quick tire-swap pit stop, we use 3M weatherstrip adhesive. Ensuring the bevel angle on the lug nuts is a perfect match for the bevel angle on the wheels will make gluing the lugs to the wheels easier and ensure your wheel is held on the car in a safer manner. We use Circuit Sport lug nuts because they have matched this angle perfectly.

Each of these little tricks saves a few seconds each, but cumulatively it saves enormous amounts of time. Add that time up over 25 hours and possibly 16-20 tire changes, and you are talking about a race-changing amount of time. How much would you pay to cut 10 minutes off of your last endurance race? How would five more laps have helped last year’s finishing position? This time-saving modification —new studs, extra lug nuts and glue — costs less than one tire. Convinced?

For teams who want to roll like the pros, nitrogen tanks and expensive air impact wrenches are quicker than electric impact guns. NASCAR teams use a special socket with a spring inside that automatically kicks out the old lug nuts. If you really want to save time and spend serious money, you can switch to a single-lug wheel setup. But for your average E3 teams, the tips in the photos here will improve your game in the pits exponentially. Good luck, and remember, righty tighty, lefty loosey.

You have to look at this photo twice to realize something is a little different from normal. This wheel has the lug nuts glued on and is ready for a quick pit stop. All we need to do is slap it on the hub and then use the impact gun to bolt everything down.
You have to look at this photo twice to realize something is a little different from normal. This wheel has the lug nuts glued on and is ready for a quick pit stop. All we need to do is slap it on the hub and then use the impact gun to bolt everything down.
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Image courtesy of Rob Krider