Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 28, 2013

Green Machine – Doug Burgess


My son William did 90 percent of the work on this car. The car came
in second – just .004 seconds behind his brother Jack. The boys are
committed to building fast cars. They spent 6 hours in the garage
polishing 10 sets of axles so we could test them and choose the
fastest ones for their cars.

Knife – Craig Look


This is my son Jacob’s Knife car. He took third place. As you can
see, the knife has a folding blade.

Sherman Tank – Craig Look


My son, Evan, took first place with his Sherman Tank. The tank has a
rotating turret to blow away the competition (unless it’s a Tiger
tank!).

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 13

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 26, 2013

Viper – Bruce Edney


The Viper design is based on the Lola B08/86 Mazda MZR-R coupe which
raced in the American Le Mans Series LMP2 class at Petit Le Mans in
October 2009. This car raced in the 2012 Mid-America Pinewood Derby,
and the PWDR and WIRL racing leagues.

Flower Power – Brian Masek

The Flower car is a Stealth that I built to improve my building
skills. I actually built two Stealths so I gave one to Shelli, my
wife, who is very creative. I built it, primed it and gave it to her
to do whatever she wanted. This is what she came up with and it
looked great! It got 2nd place in the “family” race.

Sky News – Brian Masek


The Sky News Van was my personal project for last year so that I
would have something to work on myself and meddle less with the boy’s
cars. I saw a YouTube video of a video car that someone else had
made, but they just put a camera on a block and didn’t do anything
special with the design. So I decided to try to make a remote TV truck
with a working video camera. The truck is not legal for races (it’s
slightly too large, and with the camera and 9V battery is very
overweight), but it is actually designed to be slow anyway. I bent the
axles so that all other cars would pass it and would be captured on
the video. At our derby race last year we set it facing the finish
line of the race track which allowed the adults to watch the races on
a large TV. Then at the end of the race we ran it down the track.

Stealth GT – Doug Burgess



The Stealth GT is camouflaged with a GT body. My son Jack built the
Stealth car, while I built the GT body that covers it. The Stealth
car won the pack championship this weekend.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 13

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 22, 2013

Blue Lightning – Lee Klinghoffer


This is my daughter Jenna’s skateboard car, called “Blue Lightning”,
which raced in the open category. It weighed in at 13.2 ounces! Some
nice touches were the consistency of the team paint scheme, black
glitter grip tape, and real screws for the trucks. She took 2nd place
in the open.

Maserati GranTurismo – Lee Klinghoffer

I was inspired by a Maserati GranTurismo convertible and made some
minor design tweaks. Paint job was a 3-level Tamiya primer, purple,
then deep blue metallic to achieve the cobalt blue effect. It weighed
in at 22.3 ounces in our open race! I took first place. Great, great
fun.

Batmobile – Dennis Wang


This year my Wolf scout wanted to build the Batmobile. We did some
research for some images, and he ended up picking the design from the
first two motion pictures. We used Microsoft Visio to create templates
from the top and side views. We glued our templates to do the major
shaping. The rest of the shaping was done with a Dremel tool and
Rotozip sander. We took clear plastic, spray painted one side with
black spray paint and then inlaid it to the cockpit which was carved
out with the Dremel. We took first in design, and we’re heading to
District in March.

Lego Indy – Dennis Wang

Our pack runs a sibling race and my soon to be Tiger scout wanted to
build a Lego race car. He eventually settled on an Indy car. We used
Microsoft Visio to create the top and side view templates and a scroll
saw to shape our standard BSA block. Visio helped us keep the blocks
to scale. We used 1/8 inch dowels as the peg portion of the Legos.
When the car was done, it didn’t look complete. So we decided to put
sponsor stickers. Since Mason is really into “Plants vs Zombies”, we
used images we found on-line to decorate the car. The car took first
in design in the parent/sibling race.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 13

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Pinewood Derby Car Troubleshooting

So the car is done, you’ve given it a few test runs, and you’re not satisfied with the way it performs. What do you do now? Here are some common symptoms that occur along with some suggestions for correcting the problem.

SYMPTOM: The car starts more slowly than other cars.

CAUSES & SOLUTIONS:

1. Weight has been added to the wheels – Remove the wheel weight and add it to the car body.
2. Wheels do not spin freely – Make sure the wheel-to-body gap is set properly using a wheel alignment tool (or use a dime), and that the wheels/axles are thoroughly lubricated with a recommended lubricant (graphite must be broken in to perform well).
3. Car is not properly staged – Make sure the car is pointing straight down the track, and the wheels don’t touch the guide rail.
4. The car is too heavy (outlaw-type races) – Reduce the weight to something less than 12 ounces (less for short tracks).

SYMPTOM: The car is fast down the hill, but is passed on the flat section of the track

CAUSES & SOLUTIONS:

1. The car is not at the maximum weight – Add weight to bring the car to the maximum allowed weight (typically 5 ounces).
2. The weight position is not set properly – Move weight such that the balance point of the car is at the recommended position (1 to 1-1/4 inch in front of the rear axle for most tracks).
3. The wheels are not aligned – Adjust the wheel alignment such that the car rolls eight feet on a smooth and level surface with less than 1/2 inch of deviation.
4. Wheels do not spin freely – See comments above.

SYMPTOM: The car wobbles back and forth

CAUSES & SOLUTIONS:

1. The wheels are not aligned – See comments above.
2. The axles are too small for the wheels – Refit the car with properly-sized axles.
3. The weight position is set too far back on the car – See comments above.

SYMPTOM: The car makes a chattering sound near the finish line

CAUSES & SOLUTIONS:

1. The weight position is set too far back on the car – See comments above.
2. Wheels are not properly lubricated – See comments above.

SYMPTOM: The car hugs the guide rail

CAUSES & SOLUTIONS:

1. The wheels are not aligned – See comments above.
2. The wheel tread is beveled – Replace the wheels with flat tread wheels (be aware that ‘Speed Wheels’ from some suppliers have slightly beveled tread).
3. The track is not level – Adjust the track.

SYMPTOM: The car jumps the guide rail

CAUSES & SOLUTIONS:

1. The car has a raised wheel which is too high – Set the raised wheel no more than 1/16 inch higher than the other wheels.
2. The wheels are not aligned – See comments above.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This article covers many of the problems that are encountered with pinewood derby car performance. But if you run across another problem, please send me an email and I’ll be glad to assist with some causes and solutions. Good luck with your race!

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 5, Issue 12

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 15, 2013

Reverse Wing – Paul & Jordan Messineo

Jordan and I decided to build the Wing upside down to have greater access to the weights. Since this was our attempt to try to win we were not sure how much time we would have if the car was under or over the limit. I was talking to Jordan about this concern, and Jordan said “Why don’t we turn the car upside down to get to the weights.” Well it worked. Jordan was the reason we won with that idea – at least I want to think so.

Silver Bullet – Jeff & Jack Jouett

Last year we built the Low-Rider and it finished second in the pack and (after some work) first in the district. This year we designed our own car. It will be a surprise as nobody has seen it yet. We had a few sons and fathers come to my shop to work on cars, but we kept Jack’s tucked away. Jack likes the suspense, and can’t wait to unveil his car. There are a lot of fathers and sons in the pack waiting to see what we came up with. I don’t know how his car will finish, but I’ll be very surprised if anyone beats him. He worked very hard on it and I think it is going to be a very fast car.

The Tank – Mark & Hunter Sensabaugh

The design idea for this car was totally from my son Hunter. He is 5-years old, so he must race in the adult division at our pack race. He really likes all things military, but especially tanks. When I asked him to decide what he wanted his car to look like, he said “a tank” without hesitation. We cut the block on both ends to leave the center section, then used a Dremel tool to round the top to make the turret. We then used a dowel rod for the barrel, drilling a hole in the turret and gluing it in with wood glue. We weighted the car internally using 3/8 inch lead weight by drilling holes through the body and then using wood filler to seal the holes. We used the Pro-Hub tool to polish and angle the hubs and the Pro-Body tool to relocate the axle holes to their farthest possible locations on the block. We used the other Pro-Tools as well. The weight placement had the car balanced about 1 and 1/4 inches in front of the rear axles. When we got to the race the official scale showed the car 0.15 grams light. That’s when we added a lead piece on the top as the turret hatch which put the weight at 5 ounces. The tank came out smoking fast and was clearly outrunning the other adult built cars by about two car lengths. The only other car close was the scoutmasters, who ran a pretty close second. As they were calling the winners names my son said he wished he would win a trophy. Then about a minute later they announced him as the winner of the adult class. Needless to say the look on his face was worth a million dollars!

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 5, Issue 11

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Pinewood Derby Memory – First Year Racing

I was eight years old when I participated in my first pinewood derby. My father carved a simple car with a pocket knife, I sanded it and installed the wheels. I remember not having any powdered graphite so all I could do for lubrication was to rub a pencil lead on the axle nails. I was so excited when race night came. I was even more excited when my car took first place. I received a small trophy that I remember clutching, not wanting to put it down. My father passed on just 4 short years later. The memories I have of him working on my car and the night at the races are some of the most treasured on my childhood. The trophy I won that night became one of my most prized possessions. Although I have moved many times and parted with many possessions, I still have my little blue and gold trophy.

Thirty years have passed now. Last year my own eight year old son, Jeffrey, found my pinewood trophy. He was in his first year of Cub Scouts. He loved my little trophy and wanted to try to win one of his own. I told him that winning wasn’t everything and that the real fun was in making and racing the car (but deep down, I remembered how excited I was when I had won when I was his age). So we decided we would work hard on his car for the upcoming race. We found a construction tip book and I got some friendly pointers from some of my friends who also had kids in scouts. Jeffery came up with a simple but sleek design. I cut the car with a jig saw and Jeffrey sanded it. We filed the burrs of the axles and smoothed the wheels. After lubricating the wheels and doing our best to make the car go straight, it was ready.

Race day came and I could see the excitement in my son’s eyes. His car ran six heats and won every one. He ended up third in his age group (based on total time) and 7th out of 75 scouts overall. Not bad for his first year. He received a medal for his third place finish (only the overall winner received a trophy). My son had fun, but he wanted to race again and have another chance to win a trophy. He decided to race his car in the district races to be held in 6 weeks time. In the mean time, we worked on his car, correcting an alignment problem with one of the front wheels. One of the wheels had come loose during the Pack race and now continually pulled the car to the side. We had to lift it off the track completely to make the car go straight.

There were several very fast cars at the district race. The track record was tied and then broken in the early heats. My son’s car performed well, winning every heat and tying the track record in the process – the wheel repair seemed to have worked. I knew his times were fast and we were on the edge of our seats when the winners from each age group were announced. My son won 1st Place for the Wolf age group. He was presented with a small blue and gold trophy much like mine. The smile on his face was priceless. After the awards were handed out for each age group, the top four cars in each age group were raced again to determine the overall winner. My son’s car won two of four heats and was just barely nosed out by less than an inch in the other two. But He won 1st Place overall in the district with the fasted combined four heat times. This time he won a bigger, all gold trophy. When he brought both trophies home to show his mother, I think he was the happiest kid on earth. I have since given him my trophy and all three are now proudly displayed in our home. We are now preparing for this year’s pinewood derby race. Whatever the result, the memories of my son’s first year racing are unforgettable, for both him and myself.

Chris & Jeffrey Corron
Greenville, South Carolina

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 5, Issue 11

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 8, 2013

Home Depot – Stephen Henry



This is the car my son Benjamin Henry built for his first pinewood
derby. He placed second in his age group! As you can see, we had to
lighten the car quite a bit to be able to adjust the center of mass
rearward to where we thought it would work best. We added a screw and
some washers to adjust the weight easily on race day. He painted it
himself using a spray can for the orange and borrowed my airbrush for
the windows. The decals were from a 1/25 scale plastic model. They
were a little big for the car so we trimmed them with a razor before
we applied them.

Wind Cracker – Lee Klinghoffer

This is my son Jared’s car called “Wind Cracker”. We built it
together for this year’s pinewood derby. We had to use a bit of extra
block to get some height to accommodate the design. We did a cutout on
the underside of the front for a fast start off the line. The car was
primed, and then painted with Tamiya spray paint. A purple undercoat
was followed with a deep metallic blue to get a deep cobalt blue tone.
He did not, unfortunately, win a speed award (we couldn’t get rid of a
small rear end wobble), but he did win an award for outstanding
craftsmanship.

Blue AGP – Jeremy Isaac

This was my son’s Awana Grand Prix car this year. He wanted to go for
speed instead of design this time, so we pulled out all the stops and
it paid off big time: First place in the Sparks division, followed by
first place overall. After running a total of 8 heats, this car’s
slowest time was notably faster than the best time from any other car
all day.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 12

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Pinewood Derby Memory – 90 Percent

I do a lot of hands-on work in the garage with my three sons around. Drilling, cutting, sanding. You name it, they have done it with my supervision. My oldest son (a Life Scout) never had the advantage of me using your site for tips when he was racing and never did better than 10th place in our Pack Pinewood Derby. But he did his best!

My 2nd son, now a 1st year Webelo, has taken 1st place at the Pack and 2nd place at the District two years in a row, with him doing 90 percent of the work. Being the Cubmaster I hear smart remarks about “his dad must be doing the work”. So this year I stressed to the parents that yes, my son has won 2 years in a row and all the information we used was found on the internet.
You just have to look for it like I did!

So this year, like I always have, I asked my son, “Get a Hotwheels car that you like and we will try to duplicate it; but it still has to be your design.”

He responded back, “I already know I want a low flat car because they have less wind resistance!”. So I told him “The whole idea is to do your best and if you win that’s great!”

So we transferred the lines from the slots to the other side of the block, and marked the block for drilling holes (3 wheels to touch the ground). Then he drilled the holes with a drill press. I then laid out the weight placement for him to drill out. He then used my scroll saw to cut out the body, and then sanded it by hand. Next he chamfered the axle heads and removed the burrs. Then he sanded and polished the wheels.

Spray paint was next, followed by lubricating the wheels. Now I stepped back into the action and helped him install the wheels onto the car, and then align them. I thought to myself, “Yes he did 90 percent of the work.”

On race day he came home again taking 1st Place. After the race I said to him, “You know we even forgot to polish the axles! Next year why don’t we shoot for another category like best of show, or most original, and give someone else a chance to win the race?” He replied, “Yeah, let’s do it!”

Bill Whittaker

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 5, Issue 10

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 1, 2013

Mean Green Machine – Bob Babich

Here is a picture of my son’s car from 2005. Robby did a lot of the work himself with my guidance. His goal was to have a cool design (he designed the car) and he wanted to use a skin along with paint. At the end of the day, he finished second in his den and second in the Pack. Yes, the boys car that won our den, won the pack. Actually, places 1 – 6 in our Pack came from our Den and we had over 100 cars in the PWD race. Pretty competitive Den to say the least. Robby lost to a car that set 3 track records in 4 heats and still only lost by a few thousandths of a second. At the end of the day, my son was happy, and said, “Dad, next year I want to WIN.”

Flintstone Coupe – Scott Wheeler

I make a pace car every year for my pack. One year a mom told me that her son could not make a car because she didn’t have a saw. So prior to handing out all of the kits I took a kit and just carved on it with my scout knife. I shaved off all of the corners and pointed it like you sharpen a pencil. I then took a hand drill and drilled a few holes. I prepared a mixture of wood shavings and white glue and wiped it all over the car to make it look like bark. Then I went into the back yard and pulled a twig off of the tree to make the canopy. A small piece of brown construction paper cut with scissors and glued to the canopy frame made the covering.

The wheels are standard BSA that have just been sanded down until all of the design is gone. I then painted them to look like stones with different shades of flat gray model paint.

After I showed it to the mother she said that maybe he could build one after all. Her son got some help from a neighbor and he did real well in the race if I correctly recall.

Dollar Car – Kevin & Kyle White

My son had always wanted to build a ‘dollar’ car,’ so we needed a flat car design to make it look like he wanted. We designed the dollar bill – which included his name and age – and we wanted the wheels to block the design as little as possible. The Extended Wing kit was perfect for the task, and it went together easily and quickly. The tungsten weights were a must to get the weight toward the rear. How did it do? It never lost a race

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 5, Issue 10

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