Motorsports Welding and Racing Guide | MillerWelds

Motorsports Welding and Racing Guide

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Get tips for choosing the best welding products for race car and motorsports repair and fabrication.
Welder TIG welding a rear lower control arm for an off-road race truck

Tips for race car repair and fabrication

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No matter what or where you race — whether it’s cars, trucks or modifieds, on road courses, dirt tracks, dragstrips or off-road terrain — Miller has the equipment to help you build, modify and repair for motorsports welding. 

But how do you choose the welding product best suited to your needs? This welding and racing guide can help. 

Purchasing welding equipment for motorsports

There are several key factors to think about when choosing the right welding equipment for motorsports applications

Six factors to consider in buying a welder for motorsports welding: 

  • Material type: Think about what material you will weld most frequently, whether it’s steel, 4130 alloy steel, aluminum, stainless steel or titanium. There are common materials across all forms of motorsports, with the main variable usually being material thickness.
  • Material thickness: The maximum and minimum material thicknesses you will weld determine what amperage capacity you need in your machine.
  • Input power: The available input power in your garage, shop or manufacturing facility is another important question. Is it 120-volt or 240-volt, single phase or three phase? 
  • Skill level: The welding skill level of the operator helps determine the complexity or feature set to look for in a machine. Some machines are designed with push-button control and easy-set features that make setup and adjustment easier.
  • Preferred process: Which welding process will you use the most — MIG or TIG? You can purchase a MIG welder or a TIG welder, or you may want to consider a multiprocess welder to maximize your capabilities with one machine.
  • Output capacity: Are your welding applications considered hobby, light production or manufacturing? The demands of each type of work are different and will determine the duty cycle requirements you need in a welder.  

Tackling motorsports welding projects

There are some common welding tips that can help you with each part of your build, modification or repair project. We’ve covered some of the most common below.

Engine/cooling/exhaust

To work with the thick metal of cylinder heads and the thin metal of radiators — and everything in between — you need a versatile welder with a wide range of output capabilities, plus the arc adjustability to perfectly match every job. The Dynasty® series machines are an excellent choice for this work.

Here are tips for common engine/cooling/exhaust projects in motorsports welding:

  • Intake manifolds: Typical materials for these projects are 3003 and 6061 aluminum. The recommended welding process is AC TIG with 4043 and 4943 filler metals.
  • Cylinder head repair: Typical materials for these projects are billet and A356 cast aluminum. The recommended welding process is AC TIG with 4043 or 4943 filler metals.
  • Headers and exhaust: Common materials for these projects are mild steel, 304 or 321 stainless steel and Inconel. The recommended welding process is DC TIG with recommended filler metals ER70S-2 (mild steel), 308 or 347 (stainless steel), 309 (stainless to mild steel) or 625 (Inconel).
  • Aluminum radiators, heat exchangers and tanks: Materials for these projects are often 3003, 5052 and 6061 (for fittings, bungs and necks). The recommended welding process is AC TIG with 4043 and 4943 filler metals.
  • Oil pans: Typical materials for these projects are mild steel and 3003 aluminum. The recommended welding process is DC TIG for steel and AC TIG for aluminum. Recommended filler metals are ER70S-2 or ER80S-D2 (steel) and 4043 or 4943 for aluminum. 

Chassis fabrication

When many dozens of welds all work together and help the chassis respond to the stresses of racing like it’s made of a single piece of metal — that’s when you know you used the right welder for the job. The inverter-based Millermatic® and Multimatic® welders are preferred for this.

Here are tips for common chassis projects in motorsports welding:

  • Body: Mild steel is the material typically used for body projects. The recommended welding process is MIG or MIG spot with .024-inch ER70S-6 filler metal.
  • Full chassis and roll cage: Typical materials for these projects are mild steel or 4130 chromoly. MIG or TIG is often recommended, and the choice may depend on sanctioning body rules. Commonly used filler metals are .030-inch to .035-inch ER70S-6 for mild steel with MIG, ER70S-2 for mild steel with TIG, and ER80S-D2 for mild steel/4130 with TIG.

Front suspension

Maintaining proper suspension geometry under challenging conditions is a team effort — and strongly welded suspension components are key players. Millermatic, Multimatic and Dynasty machines are definitely team players.

Here are tips for common front suspension welding projects:

  • Upper control arms: Typical materials for these projects are mild steel and 4130 chromoly. The recommended welding process is DC TIG, with filler metals ER70S-2 for mild steel and ER80S-D2 for 4130.
  • Lower control arms: Mild steel and 4130 chromoly are the materials most often used in these projects. Recommended welding processes are MIG or DC TIG. Recommended MIG filler metal is .030 to .035-inch ER70S-6 for mild steel, and recommended TIG filler metals are ER70S-2 for mild steel and ER80S-D2 for mild steel/4130.
  • Spindles: Typical materials for these projects are mild steel, 4130 tubular fabricated and 4140 chromoly solid. Recommended welding process is MIG or DC TIG. Recommended MIG filler metal is .030 to .035-inch ER70S-6 for mild steel and recommended TIG filler metals are ER70S-2 for mild steel and ER80S-D2 for 4130 and 4140. 

Rear suspension

Properly welded rear axle housings, lower control arms, trailing arms, track bars and wheelie bars have many different jobs but one common goal: maximizing traction and power delivery.


Here are tips for common rear suspension projects:

  • Wheelie bars (drag): Typical materials for these projects are 4130 chromoly and grade 9 titanium. The recommended welding process is DC TIG, with recommended filler metals ER80S-D2 for 4130 and ERTI-9 for titanium.
  • Lower control arms, trailing arms and track bars: Material for these projects is typically mild steel, with MIG or DC TIG as the recommended welding process. Recommended MIG filler metal is .030 to .035-inch ER70S-6, and recommended TIG filler metal is ER70S-2 or ER80S-D2.
  • Rear axle housing: Mild steel is most commonly used, with MIG or DC TIG as the recommended welding process. Recommended MIG filler metal is .035-inch ER70S-6, and recommended TIG filler metal is ER70S-2 or ER80S-D2. 

Finish fab

Finish fabrication materials vary widely in metal types and thickness as well as amperage needs, so make sure you have a versatile welder that never compromises on arc quality for these welding jobs. The Multimatic 220 AC/DC is a perfect fit.


Here are tips for common finish fab projects in motorsports welding:

  • Duct work: Duct work often requires 3003 aluminum, and the recommended welding process is AC TIG with 4043 or 1100 filler metals.
  • Seat/safety: Typical material for these projects is 5052 aluminum, and the recommended welding process is AC TIG with 5356 filler metal.
  • Bumpers, rub rails and nerf bars: Common materials for these projects are mild steel, 4130 chromoly and 304 stainless steel. Recommended welding processes are MIG and DC TIG. Recommended MIG filler metal is .030-inch ER70S-6 for mild steel, and recommended TIG filler metal is ER80S-D2 for 4130 and ER308L for 304 stainless steel. 

Support equipment

Only one driver finishes first. A good support team — and good support equipment — can make all the difference in getting the win. Common support equipment projects include cooldown units, crash and generator carts, command and pit boxes, and tire and gas carts.

Welder/generators and Multimatic multiprocess welders combine to make a complete support solution.

Here are tips that apply to common support equipment projects: 

  • Typical materials: mild steel frames and 3003, 5052 or 6061 aluminum for subassemblies
  • Recommended welding process: MIG or AC TIG
  • MIG filler metal: .030-inch to .035-inch ER70S-6 for mild steel
  • TIG filler metals: 4043, 4943 or 5356 for aluminum 

Safety equipment 

Just as important as choosing the right welder for the job is choosing proper safety gear and welding accessories to meet all your needs. Safety should be a top priority in every shop and garage. 

 

Your list of proper safety gear for motorsports welding includes:

  • Welding helmet: Helmets come in a variety of styles, from basic to advanced. Larger viewing areas can help you see the weld better, and auto-darkening helmets let you keep your hood down and finish more welds.
  • Head and face protection: Weld masks are a great option for welding in confined areas where traditional welding helmets are a tight fit, such as inside roll cages or under vehicles.
  • Safety glasses: Look for glasses that provide optimal eye coverage and increased comfort for all-day wear.
  • Respirator: Respiratory protection is key during welding and the intense grinding that is required in custom fabrication.
  • Jacket: A lightweight weld jacket can provide superior protection without compromising comfort.
  • Gloves: Welding gloves are available in many styles and options, including metalworker gloves designed for metal fabrication and mechanic work, multi-task gloves perfect for MIG and TIG welding, and TIG gloves that deliver protection in a thinner style so it’s easier to feel and manipulate TIG filler metal. 

Solutions for racing and motorsports welding 

Don’t hit the starting line until you know your racing build, modification or repair is ready. Choose welding equipment and accessories that will help you optimize your results — and your performance. 

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