Skinny's vs FTE/NPA

D_Built_Garage Tuesday, 5/9/2023

For drag racing, has anyone used both? What are your experience with using both? I am seeing a ton of skinnys on the tracks lately for drag racing. I am also seeing all 4 tires skinnys, All 4 FTE and on some cars, I'm seeing skinnys in the front, and FTE's in the back and vice versa. I tried searching in the Archives and I haven't seen this brought up yet but if it was, I apologize. What are your experiences? Please do share :) Thanks everyone!


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Kingjester 5/10/23

I'm not expert but both are fast for different reasons,fte's have nickle plated axels which reduce friction which usually means increased speed.Skinny wheels have regular axles but since they are well skinny they touch less surface area which means less friction which means more speed

Yea that makes sense Jester... Assuming you have 2 of the same cars, 1 car had all 4 skinnys and 1 car had all FTE and you polished both axels for both cars which would be faster? I'd pay to see the results!

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KandORacing 5/10/23

Study what wheels you see on the winning cars in the competitive drag races and you might see some patterns. A lot of the time NPAs aren't really the favored choice by a lot of the fastest builders. My advice would be buy some cars with some of the more common wheels you see on winning cars and then buy some old FTEs and just carefully analyze things about them in comparison to each other before you even take them off the car they come on. Lots of trial and error but you'll start to discover a lot of what makes a wheel perform well and it's not so much NPAs vs plain steel axles but the quality of the wheel and how you work it

  • Yes, great answer. I completely agree with all of this. — G4DiecastRacing
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redlinederby 5/10/23
Site manager

When I was running drag races there were a lot of skinny tires on the winners. Voxxer Racing's cars always had skinnies. I think the FTE axles are fine but not the biggest factor...I put them in the, "can't hurt" category but I the wheels and the weight distribution are more important overall for straight speed.

I wanna say I remember someone saying long ago that the skinny tires also tended to have more true round holes based on their car builds but I don't know if I buy that theory at all. 

That makes sense. Thanks everyone for your responses. I'll try experimenting and report back. If I notice anything crazy, I'll let you guys know.

KandORacing said it perfectly. Watch what the top modified drag racers are using. Some tournament rules will vary on what types of wheels are allowed. But even when FTE wheels are allowed, they are rarely used at the highest level of modified drag racing. Some modders may use Nickle Plated Axles (NPA) with standard wheels when the rules allow custom-built tubed axles.

I have also seen many fast drag cars with all skinny wheels. I've tried them myself and haven't had any success in making them faster than my normal axle and wheel prep using standard wide wheels. 

I would watch BlueLines 2023 American Muscle drag race tournament series when it's posted on YouTube on Memorial Day. The best of the best will be participating so you can see the wheel choices of the top performers. 

  • The calendar here on the site goes back years. Look for BlueLine or RLD and those are all drag races. Not the only ones but the race archive is deep. — redlinederby

I'll check those out. Thanks everyone! and g4 I'll be looking forward to that video from Blueline on youtube. I also saw people racing with those back to the future wood looking wheels. Those are some other racing wheels! They are not completly flush with the track. It's almost hybrid like but the way it sits on the track would qualify it as a skinny I assume.

  • Yes! Those brown "Wagon" wheels are basically skinny because of the way they are shaped. Those wheels have also been used successfully to win many modified drag races when the rules have allowed them. — G4DiecastRacing
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dr_dodge 5/11/23

anyone run skinny's on open track?


  • I think the ridges on the track catch the wheels. Wider wheels skate over the grooves. — SpyDude
  • that is what I was thinking — dr_dodge
  • I also thought about it on one of my first mod. Turned out it sucked real hard because I used the wrong "graphite" and it rolled like a brick... But never experimented back with 4 skinnies (except for one secret casting that might end on YouTube pretty soon) — Underdogs_Unleashed
  • We entered a Holden Monaro/Pontiac GTO ina tournament a while back at Hot Car Track and that had skinnys on the front. Was fast out of the gate but once it hit the first corner, it was all over the place! After that it was changing lanes like your drunk Uncle Derek after a night at the pub...was fast but wanted to swerve everywhere. — EnZedRacing
  • lol — dr_dodge
  • I believe the thing with skinny wheels is that while they gripe less surface area which means less drag which means less speed I believe the less grip on the track affects the handling of the car which is why cars with skinny wheels have a tendency to start swerving in the big turns — Kingjester

Most of the cars I've seen on the open track were full sized tires. It wouldn't hurt to try it tho LOL. Any takers?

  • I mean, less friction is less friction, so skinnies should be better unless they do get hung up on various track ridges, bumps, and gaps. — redlinederby
  • Makes me curious if open/fat tracks like Chaos Canyon's with no ridges would favor skinnies. — FeralPatrick
  • Will definitely retry all 4 skinnies for open track soon as my first attempt was a complete failure due to being inexperienced — Underdogs_Unleashed
  • Nice ok I'll look forward to your results underdogs_unleashed. Please report back once you do that haha — D_Built_Garage
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redlinederby 5/12/23
Site manager

Re-reading some of this again, I noticed "I'm seeing skinnys in the front, and FTE's in the back" in DBG's original post, but then some of the discussion talks about FTE/NPA axles and the likes.

Just want to clarify some of the jargon here. When you say something like "FTE's in the back," you're talking about the wheels themselves, not the axles. FTE wheels are just like any other non-skinny wheel, there's no real difference outside of cosmetics.

However, FTE axles are the nickel-plated axles (NPA) that have reduced friction due to the coating so, in theory, the cars can go faster. 

So there's a few experiments you can do with your wheel/axle combos to see what works best for you:

  • NPA axle + wide wheels
  • NPA axle + skinny wheels
  • Non-NPA axle + wide wheels
  • Non-NPA axle + skinny wheels

And obviously you can play with the front/back combinations in your cars.

Hi Redline! Ahh you caught it! Yes I've seen other racers have a legit 05-06 fte 5 spoke wheel in the back and a skinny in the front and or vice versa. I was trying to see if anyone has tried that combo. Thanks for catching that redline!

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