The Real Truth About 3 wheel Rail Rider Advantage! Raising one wheel of a Pinewood Derby Car may give you an advantage. But why? Almost everyone will say that it reduces friction, thus allowing the car to be faster. This false statement is widely used by almost all online Pinewood Derby retailers. I often see people who claim to be credentialed engineers making similar claims.
Here is what happens when you raise one wheel:
When one wheel is raised, that amount of weight that was originally being supported is transferred to the other three wheels. This will actually INCREASE the friction on the other 3 wheel bores.
Lastly, when a car with 4 wheels has one wheel raised from making contact and not being allowed to spin, 1/4 or 25% of the rotational energy that was previously used is now available to increase its linear velocity.
So next time you hear that claim being made, rest assured, you know the facts. And if you see a Pinewood Derby retailer promoting this falsehood to sell their products, you should probably be skeptical about their other gimmicky claims.