Official Retailer of the BSA - National Supply Group
The Fargo Scout Shop has all kinds of great things for your Scouting needs. We carry camping supplies and gift items for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Eagles and Leaders as well as the basic uniforms, books and awards. Over 90% of the Scout Shop catalog is in our store.
Detailed books and guides are available at the Fargo Scout Shop:
Design Your Car – Steps in preparing for Pinewood Derby season is designing your car are listed below! Whether you are going for ultra-fast or flashiest, make your dreams come to life. Get the perfect look and feel with the best paints, sound and light kits, peel-n-stick decals, and bright wheel colors.
THE BASICS Cub Scouts get in motion!
All you need is an official Pinewood Derby® car kit and your imagination. Inside the kit you’ll find the wooden block, wheels, and axles – everything you need to get started.
Brainstorm with your adult mentor to come up with a design that’s a fun challenge, but not too difficult to build. You’ll need to know your pack’s race rules and what awards you can shoot for, so you can be sure to meet the requirements and aim to be the Fastest, Most Original, Best Craftsmanship or other fine achievements.
FOLLOW THESE STEPS ON YOUR PATH TO GLORY!
- Draw out some design ideas (using graph paper is helpful)
- Sketch the outline of your chosen design on the wooden block (with the help of your mentor)
- Cut out the car shape using woodworking tools (let your mentor help with the hard parts)
- Use sandpaper to smooth the surface.
- Paint your car and add decals available at Scoutshop.org.
- Add the axles & wheels (Make sure they fit the car body correctly & that the wheels spin easily)
- Add accessories if you’d like (remember to check your local rules)
- Now you’re ready to race!
10 STEPS TO GET YOU MOVING
Step 1 – Design your car’s body
Choose your favorite design and outline it onto your paper template or graph paper. Be sure to maintain a width of 1-3/4 inches where the metal axle will be inserted. Outline the bare block of wood onto the paper. Keep the design simple enough to avoid overly detailed cutting.
Step 2 – Shape your car’s body
a) Keep in mind the tools you have available, such as saws, drills and sanders, when formulating your design. Consider safety as well. Usually, the adult makes the major cuts with the power tools and then lets the youth file and sand.
b) Check that both axle grooves are at a perfect 90-degree angle to the car body. A car with untrue axles tends to steer to one side or the other and rub against the sides of the track, which slows it down.
c) Cut away the large sections of waste wood first before etching out the final design. This makes it easier to form the shape and details of your design. Have a definite plan and remember, you can’t add wood back that you’ve taken off!
d) Do not forget to leave a place for weight if you need it. Weight may be placed anywhere as long as it is not taped on and does not exceed the official specifications.
Step 3 – Inspect the wheels
a) Only official wheels are acceptable.
b) Wheels can be sanded to remove surface imperfections, but the treads must be left flat.
c) Inspecting the wheels is important. Make sure all wheels roll freely and smoothly around the axle. Get a drill bit that fits just inside the wheel where the axle fits. This cleans out any roughness or burrs that cause wheels to not spin freely.
Step 4 – Insert axles
a) Check each axle for any burrs on the underside of the head.
b) So the wheels will run as freely as possible, place each axle in a hand-drill chuck to hold it steady, then smooth the burrs with a fine emery cloth or file.
c) To fine-tune your axles, polish them using a PWD High Speed Polishing Kit. These items can be purchased at ScoutStuff.org.
Step 5 – Paint
After shaping and sanding your car to your satisfaction, prime it, then sand it with fine sandpaper, and add additional coats of paint or a “skin.” Don’t glue any details on yet!
Step 6 – Install wheels and axles
Now you can put the axles and wheels on the car, but don’t glue on the axles. Weigh your car, being sure to place the car and any accessories on the scale (driver, steering wheel, roll bar, etc.)
Step 7 – Add weights
a) The car may not weigh more than five ounces. For best speed results, get your car as close to that weight as possible.
b) If you do not have a scale, the U.S. Postal Service, or a supermarket, might weigh your car for you. Your pack leaders may have official scales available for you to use, and some Scout shops offer free weigh-ins (not considered an “official” weight for the race.)
c) Any added weight may not be taped on. The car can be hollowed out and weight inserted to build it up to the maximum weight, but it must be securely attached or built into the car body, so it won’t fall off onto the track.
Step 8 – Test your car
a) Once the weight is securely mounted slip the wheels back on. Place the car on a long, flat surface and give it a gentle push. The car should travel in a straight line for a reasonable distance (five to ten feet.)
b) A Practice track may be available through your pack.
Step 9 – Lubricate your car (and be sure to check your pack’s lube rules!)
a) Lube and mount the wheels permanently. Dry, fine powdered lube works best. Dust a little powdered lube in the hole where the axle is inserted, some on the axle where the wheel rides, and a little at the axle head.
b) Slide the axles and wheels onto the car and glue into place. Use an epoxy or non-resin glue, making sure to not get any on the surface of the axle where the wheel rides.
Step 10: Accessorize your car
Be sure any accessories are securely mounted on the car. Add stripes and decals – let your imagination fly!
Join The Tradition
Become one of the millions of Cub Scouts who have been building and racing Pinewood Derby® cars since 1953. Partnering with a parent or adult mentor, Cub Scouts work together, strengthening bonds and building confidence – and their own custom race cars! They begin by choosing a car design, then carve it out and detail it with paint, decals and other accessories, and lastly, perfect strategies to compete in their pack’s own Pinewood Derby®. It’s a wonderful learning experience centered on teamwork, ingenuity, and sportsmanship.
Did You Know?
Since the first official derby, Cub Scouts have built close to 100 million Pinewood Derby® cars!
How Did It All Start?
Pinewood Derby was created by Cubmaster Donald Murphy in 1953. Murphy said, “I wanted to devise a wholesome constructive activity that would foster a closer father-son relationship and promote craftsmanship and good sportsmanship through competition.”
Cubmaster Don Murphy held the first Pinewood Derby® race in Southern California with Cub Scout Pack 280C at the Manhattan Beach Scout House. The derby was publicized in Boys’ Life magazine in October 1954 and became an instant hit. The rules set out for the very first race still stand today: “The derby is run in heats – two to four cars starting by gravity from a standstill on a track and run down a ramp to a finish line unaided. The track is an inclined ramp with wood strips down the center to guide the cars.”
Today the Pinewood Derby® stays close to its roots, giving Cub Scouts an excellent way to learn about craftsmanship, sportsmanship, and respect for others through friendly competition.
A Pinewood Derby® car can reach a speed of nearly 20mph, and if a derby car and track were enlarged to the size of a real automobile the car would be speeding at more than 200mph!
PLANNING YOUR PWD RACE
Each pack organizes its own Pinewood Derby®, establishes their own rules and conducts the events. The Cubmaster can designate volunteers (for small packs) or a committee (for larger packs) to manage the event. The following outline makes it easy for your pack to get started:
- Get the pack interested and excited about the event
- Evaluate your unit’s capabilities and the experience of your leaders
- Gather your resources and consult with neighboring Scout packs if necessary
- Organize the volunteers
- Make sure every Scout has access to the materials and tools they need to build and race
- Buy, borrow, or build a track to race on
- Be sure to test that it’s in good working order in advance of the event
*Helpful Hint: No boy or girl should miss out on the fun – this means the Cub Scout pack may need to gather resources to help the dens – or an individual Cub Scout – to make sure everyone has access to tools and necessary materials to build their cars.
As the Cub Scouts are completing their designs, test runs can be useful in fine-tuning and building excitement for the upcoming race day. Check with your local Scout Shop for weigh-ins and special event dates!
Three Months Before Race Day
- Determine the date/time of your Pinewood Derby and add it to pack/den calendars
- Decide on the derby location and reserve the space
- Put together an event staff by using a mix of veterans and newcomers. This provides a good mix of continuity and fresh ideas
- Buy, borrow or build a track and make sure it’s working properly
- Some packs have agreements with Scouts BSA troops to provide a track and run the derby for the Cub Scout pack as a service project
- Finalize your pack’s rules and scoring methods for distribution at the next pack meeting
- See general rules and scoring tips below
*Helpful Hint: If you don’t have experienced leaders, consult with your district and neighboring Cub Scout packs.
Two Months Before Race Day
- Assign responsibilities to derby volunteers
- Arrange for all participating Cub Scouts to obtain official kits
- Some packs purchase and provide the kits, others inform parents how to obtain the kits themselves
- Kits can be purchased at your local Scout Shop or scoutshop.org
- Check out Pinewood Derby® trophies, ribbons, decorations, etc. to use for your event at your local Scout Shop
One Month Before Race Day
- Distribute Pinewood Derby® kits to pack
- Verify that all boys and girls in the pack have received their kits
- Optional: Host a car-building day for Cub Scouts and their adult mentors
- Provide access to plenty of tools and guidance from derby veterans
One Week Before Race Day
- Visit the derby site and decide where to place the track, check-in center, and refreshments
- Set up alternate activity areas and tables for displaying cars and awards
- Plan set-up and clean-up with site managers to ensure a successful event
- Coordinate volunteers in charge of refreshments, check-in, and weighing race cars
- Gather materials needed for repair center (charts, scales, and tools, including glue, spare wheels and axles, and other materials teams may need to make adjustments and repairs)
PINEWOOD DERBY DAY
- Set up the race area and test the track, timing devices, and derby race tracking programs
- Register and weigh their cars
- Get assigned a car number which is inserted in the derby scoring system
Ready, Set, Race!
Hand out awards and share snacks and highlights!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where can we get our Pinewood Derby kit?
Your local Scout shop has them. Scout leaders may arrange ways to directly provide them to members of your Cub Scout pack, and you can always order kits through ScoutShop.org.
Who builds the car?
Participating in a Pinewood Derby is a team effort for a Cub Scout and an adult mentor. They design the car and build it together, and then enter it in the race. Each Scout can work with one or both parents, a guardian, grandparent, or other mentor.
What are the weight limits for a Pinewood Derby car?
All cars in a Pinewood Derby® must be of a certain size and weight so they have an equal chance to win. Using the official Pinewood Derby® kit will ensure that you start with the correct size. For most derbies, the finished car can weigh no more than five ounces.
What are the other rules?
Each Cub Scout pack decides its own rules. For most derbies, your car must be built with the parts found in the official BSA Grand Prix Pinewood Derby® kit – the wooden block, official BSA® wheels, and axles. Paint, decorations, decals, and weights can be added as long as the final car stays under five ounces.
Can we substitute our own wheels, axles, or wood block for those from the Pinewood Derby® kit?
No. Starting with identical materials gives every Cub Scout a fair chance in the derby, but there are fun wheel and axle kits in regulation available at ScoutShop.org.
How can we make our car go fast?
There are lots of different ways! Check out our tips here: 10 Tips and Tricks to a Fast and Cool-Looking Pinewood Derby Car.
Is it okay to lubricate the axles?
Check your Cub Scout pack’s rules. Dry lubricant such as powdered graphite is often allowed.
How can we practice before a race?
A Pinewood Derby® Practice Track for testing the speed and balance of a car is available at ScoutShop.org ; Some Scout Shops offer free weigh-ins.
Up your game this year and try a new design or technique that shaves off time. Or… make your car stand out from the crowd by adding lights and sounds! Our experts have shared their advice on everything from how to throw a successful Pinewood Derby race, to easy-to-implement car tricks and hacks, along with how to install weights, lights and sound kits.
Everyone knows that Pinewood Derby time is all about the FUN! Take a break from building your car and enjoy some creative videos and games. Who knows, you might find some inspiration for your own derby car here (and beat some high scores).
Pinewood Derby is NOT cancelled because of COVID! Whether your event needs to be fully virtual or a hybrid between in-person and virtual, here’s your support to make it awesome.
Do lists make everything easier for you? Well, we’ve put together the list you need to check-off your way to organizing the best Pinewood Derby event!
A little lost on where to start with creating your Pinewood Derby dream car? Start with figuring out which race car shape zooms to the front for you.
Additional Videos available at Pinewood Derby HQ
Parts & Supplies
These are official wheel and axle replacement kit for your car. These wheels will add a classic look to your Derby car design. $2.49 Colors available Black, Glow-in0the-Dark, Purple, Pink, Green, & Blue Order Form
Rules regarding weights & axels
- Axles, wheels, and body shall be from the materials provided in the kit. Additional wheels can be purchased separately.
- Wheel bearings, washers, and bushings are prohibited.
- No lubricating oil may be used. Axles may be lubricated with powdered graphite or silicone.
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