We often find with the “old-timers” in the industry that they got their start young. Mr. Raceline, Greg Mulkey, is no exception. His age isn’t what makes him an old-timer, he’s younger than most of us, but his experience brings a wealth of knowledge that you just can’t get anymore.
Greg started with Lyle Marsh in Arkansas when he was 14, learning everything about the dirt-track. Back then, he built wheels the old-fashioned way. Stamping them out, blowing out the centers with a torch, drilling holes, and sticking them on the wheels. The tires started hooking up good, but with low air pressure, they were coming off the bead. Next up was retaining them on the bead. The beadlock was born, but not without some challenges. They discovered a contour was needed. So sand-casting became the next method of building beadlocks. On the dirt track, beadlocks were used on the right rear tire only. From there, production moved into stamping them from steel.
NASCAR was the next hurdle, getting them sold to Bill Frantz, Jr. – Greg did that; he predicted a race outcome that couldn’t be ignored, and beadlocks were added to the curriculum. Back on the dirt track, plastic wheel beadlocks became a thing to absorb the energy of the crashes into the wall. The next problem to solve was the heat from the brakes heating up the tire. Carbon fiber injection molded wheels solved that one.
Greg spent 23 years on the dirt track, hailing from Arkansas; the next step was California. Working with Marsh all those years, Greg developed relationships with NCI, who is the backing behind Allied Wheel, Raceline, and US Wheel. After Lyle Marsh sold his company, Greg made the move to Raceline. In the beginning, it was just nice stuff you see on show cars. Then he started working with some German engineers who built low-pressure casting machines. Greg tells us he missed the mark with the 15 x 10, but immediately backed up and built the 17” Monster in 2004, which is the wheel we still see nowadays.
If you’re running beadlocks, know that Greg Mulkey had a hand in developing them. We call him Mr. Raceline, but perhaps Mr. Beadlock would be a more appropriate moniker.