Pinewood Derby Memory – Twins Undefeated

My name is Joe Bilyeu I am the proud father of twin 8-year old boys, Hunter and Dylan. Last year at the BSA derby races we were totally embarrassed. We built two nice looking cars, but they were as slow as a turtle. We got beat by every car in the district. My boys almost fired me. So this year I vowed to redeem our good name. I read everything I could find on derby car racing (thank you Maximum Velocity for the helpful hints). We worked months on our cars. The boys painted, polished, and shined; raised a wheel, aligned the car, and installed red micro lights.

It was worth it all. Out of our pack of twenty-two boys, Dylan’s car took first in his den and first in the pack. Hunter’s car took second — his only loss was to his brother. We couldn’t wait until the district race. The boys were so excited.

The night of the district race, I knew we had two fast cars. I also knew I wanted them to be separated from each other in the elimination brackets (so one wouldn’t eliminate the other early in the event). There were fifty-nine cars entered. At weigh-in they gave us number 146 and 149; I didn’t think that was very far apart.

When the race began I ask the race officials to separate the cars, which they did. Heat after heat Hunter and Dylan’s cars went undefeated. The final heat was our two cars and another car, all three undefeated. The other car looked very impressive; they had built its own box to keep it in so nobody could touch it. I told the boys they were both guaranteed a trophy now, and they were all smiles. We called their mother each round, telling her, “It’s sixteen cars left!” Then, “Eight cars left!” Then finally, “Three cars left!”

At the final heat our pack was there rooting us on. In the first heat Dylan’s car took first and Hunter’s car took second. The second heat was the same. In the third heat Hunter’s car took first, followed by Dylan’s car. The crowd went wild; the twins had won first and second in the District!

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 5

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – February 25, 2014


After reading the article on nice paint jobs, you might enjoy these
cars from Jack Walter. He has a different way of painting, but I’m
sure there are many ways to successfully paint a car.

Mom’s Car

I enjoyed reading the article Height of Weight Versus Performance – Volume 13, Issue 9. Being a mechanical engineer with a tendency of OCD on math, the results of your experiment are to a degree surprising. Attached is a picture of Mom’s car that we built specifically to answer the height/weight performance question. Will it work? We are not exactly sure, but at least Mom will have her own ride to jump and shout about.

Three more beautiful paint jobs-these cars are owned by Justin, JT, and Jack.

Here is Jack’s recipe for a great paint job:

Creating an incredible paint job starts with the wood. We cut the body with a band saw and shape with a band sander with 60 grit. From there we start with 100 grit and gradually work to 1000 grit. Yes
100-200-400-800 to 1000 grit. Take your time. This seem to be the best way to prepare the car for paint.

Painting can be done with a low cost airbrush from Harbor Freight. We apply primer coats, base coats and clear coats. We do add metallic into the clear coat to get the color shifting effects and sparkle. It
can not be stressed enough: too much paint can ruin all your work. Fog (light coat) the paint on, take a break and come back to fog it on again.

Paint Steps
– Apply three layers of primer – let dry between coats.
– Sand with 1000 grit paper
– Apply the main color
– We use a hobby painting mask sheet to cut our own patterns. Apply the mask pattern and start adding colors.
– Apply a clear coat.

Voila, you have a show quality car! By painting both the top and bottom of the car we eliminate the effect of humidity absorbing into the wood.

A hint on the airbrush: we always have a practice box sitting by the car to paint on. This gives you a chance to practice and play. Remember, when actually painting the car just apply a fog coat of each color. Take your time, less paint is best, Good LUCK!!

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 13, Issue 11

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The Ultimate Finish – How to create a beautiful paint job

By Kevin Baugher

Have you ever seen a pinewood derby car with a paint job that looked
like it must have been done by a professional auto painter? Didn’t it
look great!? Wouldn’t you like to create a paint job that looked just
as good?

Hi, I’m Kevin Baugher, and I used to own and operate an auto collision
repair and painting shop.(1) In this article I will outline how you
can create a professional-looking paint job on your car. It isn’t as
difficult as you think!

Before painting, complete the shaping of your car, fill any dents with
wood filler, and then sand the car. Start with 150 grit, and then
progress to 220 grit. If you follow the steps below, you don’t need to
use finer grit sandpaper at this point.

Figure 1 – Sanding Complete

Priming is the key to the paint job!! Don’t skimp on this.

The absolute best primer is a two (or more) part urethane primer used
for automobiles. It is thicker than most other primers, so it will
fill small surface flaws. It will also seal the wood to prevent the
grain from swelling and showing through the paint job.

This product is not readily available in stores, unless you can find a
store that sells to auto body shops. Even so, it is quite expensive.
So I suggest visiting a local body shop and either ask them to prime
your pinewood derby car for you, or ask them to sell you a small
quantity of primer. You won’t need more than 4 ounces per car. Make
sure to get the two or more parts that make up the primer.

Mix the primer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can
apply the primer with a foam roller or brush, or it can be sprayed if
you have a paint sprayer. Make sure to do the priming in an area free
of dust and wind! Apply 4 to 5 coats, waiting 5 minutes between coats
(do not sand between coats). After all the coats are applied, let the
car dry overnight.(2)

Figure 2 – Priming with a roller

Figure 3 – Priming Complete

The next step is to sand the primer. But to make sure that it is
sanded evenly, mist some spray paint on the car. This “tracer coat”
will help you get the entire car properly sanded. This is the same
technique used by professional auto painters, so don’t skip it!

Figure 4 – The Tracer Coat

Sand the tracer coat/primer with 320 grit dry sandpaper until most of
the tracer coat is gone. But don’t be too aggressive; if you see any
wood at the edges of car you will have to re-prime it and repeat the
sanding step again.

Figure 5 – Sanding the Tracer Coat

Next, sand with 400 or 600 grit wet paper. Note that I don’t paint the
underside of the car.(3) If you don’t either, then don’t get the
bottom of the car too wet.

Continue sanding until none of the tracer coat remains.

Figure 6 – Ready to Base Coat

Now apply a “base coat”, that is, the primary color for your car. Some
auto parts store carry automotive spray paint such as Dupli-Color.
Just don’t use enamel paints.

Apply two to three coats of the base color, allowing the car to dry to
touch between coats (typically about 30 minutes). You do not need to
sand between base coats unless some dirt or dust settles on the paint.

Figure 7 – Base Coats

To seal the paint and give the car a deep shine, apply a “clear coat”.
Use a clear coat that is compatible with the base coat. The clear coat
can be applied right after the base coat dries to touch. Give the
first clear coat 10 minutes or so to dry, and then apply a second
clear coat.

Figure 8 – Clear Coats

If you like a challenge, buy an inexpensive air brush and a few
stencils from your local craft store.(4) In the photos, I used the
airbrush after the clear coats, so I had to sand the car with 1000
grit wet paper. You can air brush right on top of the base coat, and
then apply the clear coats. However, if you clear coat first, then if
you make a mistake with the airbrush, you can wipe it off with a weak

Tape the stencil over the car, and then spray on some paint. The
secret of airbrushing is to just spray a little around the edge of the
stencil. Don’t be afraid to apply more than one color!

Figure 9 – Stencil on Car

Figure 10 – First Color

Figure 11 – Second Color

Figure 12 – Third Color

Don’t forget to clear coat again after airbrushing.

You too can create a paint job like an expert! Just make sure to get
the right primer, take your time, and marvel at the results.

Figure 13 – Final Results

(1) Kevin now owns Liquid Illusions, LLC.

(2) Urethane auto primer is certainly the best choice. But if you
can’t find it, try Rust-oleum Filler Primer (Hi-Build Formulation)
which is sold at most auto part stores.

(3) Why don’t I paint the underside? I once made a toy car for my son
from cardboard for a school project. The paint job was applied just as
described in this article. When I took it to school, the teacher told
me it wasn’t allowed because it wasn’t made from cardboard (she
thought it was made of plastic or metal). I told her that it was made
from cardboard, but she didn’t believe me until I turned the car over
to show her some unpainted cardboard! Ever since then, I don’t paint
the underside of pinewood derby cars.

(4) Maximum Velocity offers paint stencils which can be used with a
brush, air-brush, or with spray paint. You can find them Here.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 13, Issue 11

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – February 18, 2014

(Once again I am breaking my own rule, and including several cars from the same owner. I think you will understand why.)

In June of 2006 when my son Noah and I left the movie “Cars”, Noah told me he wanted to make the Lightning McQueen car next year for the Cub Scout, Pinewood Derby. I was thinking the whole time that lightning McQueen has a lot of stickers that I would need to resize to get them to work with a pinewood car. When we were working on the design, after the movie came out on DVD, Noah decided to make the Whitewalls McQueen (a.k.a. Cruisin’ McQueen) instead. I was relieved. But then we decided to make a car for Mom (Flo) and me (Doc Hudson). I had worked hard getting the plans to fit the max width of 2-3/4 inches, the max length of 7 inches, and the standard Cub Scout pinewood derby wheelbase (Flo has an altered – shorter – wheelbase). Both the parent cars have fender skirts, which forced me to remove the lettering on the outside of the BSA wheels to get clearance around the wheels (this would be illegal in our council race – raised lettering may not be sanded off). All of our cars use Matched Speed Wheels from Maximum Velocity.

In the last week, before the derby, we worked a long time to get the cars ready. I ran out of clear before my car was done and “Wally World” does not sell Testors any more. So I purchased some of their new supplier’s clear. I tried it on a small area and it did not have any problem, so I cleared the entire car. About an hour later the car started to develop large cracks in the paint (lesson learned, always use paint and clear from the same supplier). I worked until 2:00 am the night before the race to get my car completed (even though it still does not have bumpers –maybe someday).

At the races another father and son made Mater and The King as their cars. Our cars did well in the races: Noah was 1st place in the Wolf den, 2nd fastest in the pack. All of the scout and parent cars were beat by a pink car (sister of one of the boys) in the Cub/Parent races.

Thanks for all your quality products, and good advice!

Andy Holzer

Cruisin’ McQueen – Front

Cruisin’ McQueen – Rear

Doc Hudson – Front

Doc Hudson – Rear

Flo – Front

Flo – Rear

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 5

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Memory – Fight the Good Fight

I am a divorced dad who has fought the good fight since my son was 3. He is now 10. This past December I gained additional custody of my son and I had an extra night that I could give to a scouting type event. With only a Wednesday night to devote to this, the only option for us was the Royal Ambassadors at my church. Luckily for us, they had not had their race; so when we joined the group in January we got to pick out our car kits the first Wednesday night.

I polled my colleagues at work, and gathered ideas for how to build a fast car.

My son added pressure by saying, “Dad, can we really do this?”

We sanded. And sanded. And sanded. We primed. And primed. And primed. We weighed, drilled more holes, sanded and primed again and again. Three of the four post office locations we used to weigh our car-in-progress had scales that appeared to be off by one to three-tenths of an ounce. By race day, April 14th, 2007, I was not sure if we could do this!

We buffed and buffed the axles with jeweler’s rouge until they shined like new money.

We helped set up the race track the night before the race; so we tried out our cars. While we were fast, it appeared we would not be the fastest.

On Saturday afternoon we took the wheels off one last time and buffed again. This time we sprayed the axles with silicon and then applied graphite.

At the race my son won 1st place for speed in his division and 1st place in design. I won 2nd place in speed in the adult division (I lost to an ex- cub scout leader who now builds cars with kids that have no father involved — good guy to lose to!) and 1st place in design. Overall we were 2nd and 3rd in speed; with he and I separated by one-thousandth of a second and seven thousandths behind first place.

Most of the time I wear a fake smile because the past several years have been a struggle. As I said, I/we have fought the good fight. But as Jeff’s name was called for having the fastest car for his first award, I smiled a real smile. Jeff smiled as well, and when he got his second trophy he had a tear in his eye. We did it!

Next year is our last year to race. While the above story highlights a win, the experience Jeff and I had being competitive with other experienced kids and adults grew our relationship.

Thanks for the opportunity to share this story; I’ll be using your products next fall.

Dennis Hollingsworth

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 4

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – February 11, 2014


Chicago-style – Charles Baum

Thought you might be interested in my latest creation – a Chicago- style hot dog car. The bun was formed from a standard block with a block scrap glued on to the top. Fender wells were then drilled and the block cut in half for the top and bottom buns. The hot dog was
cut from a 1 x 2 and formed into shape. The buns were shaped with a plane and sander. The relish was small cut pieces of wood mixed in with plaster and green paint. The mustard was yellow paint and plaster. The onion pieces, tomatoes and pepper were cut and formed from small pieces of wood. The only thing that is “real” are the poppy

Barracuda – Christopher Dominy

Once again we have prepared a beautiful car and I’m sure it will be blazing fast as always. We used your Barracuda design.

Driving Me Bananas – Derik Anderson

“Driving Me Bananas”, is a craft car that 10 year old Derik Anderson built with his dad for the Boy Pioneer’s group in Plover, Wisconsin. It has an ape in a cage with a stick driving a truck load of bananas. On the back of the truck we made a decal that says “No Green Bananas”.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 13, Issue 10

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

The Big Event – Staging a Pinewood Derby Race

by Randy Davis

So you have been put in charge of staging a pinewood derby race. Maybe you are looking forward to the prospect, or cursing your fate; but in either case you have some work ahead of you.

I have written several articles about different aspects of race staging, but have not previously put it all together. So this article will give an overview of staging a race. Hopefully, you will find some gems that will help you stage your event.

First, let’s consider what goals you are trying to accomplish. From my perspective, you should want to achieve the following goals:

1. Credible/fair event – The participants should perceive that the event is fair, and is not biased (intentionally or unintentionally).

2. Reasonable opportunity for cars to be competitive – Participants should feel that they have an opportunity to be competitive.

3. Well-planned and managed event – parents and racers should perceive that the event is not ad hoc, but is well managed and thought out. This gives participants confidence.

4. Aesthetically pleasing/fun venue – The venue should appear fun and festive.

5. Exciting, well paced event – The race should generate continued excitement and be well-paced. You don’t want a boring event.

Let’s discuss some ways to achieve each one of these goals. Some of these topics have been covered in previous articles, so in those cases, I will refer you to the previous article.

Race participants should perceive that the race is fair. All participants should have an equal opportunity with no perceived bias towards any particular racer or group of racers. This topic is more complex than it first appears, as it includes rules, staffing, car handling, car staging, and more. For a thorough discussion of this topic please refer to Volume 7, Issue 4 – Credibility of the Race.

A big part of the credibility issue is the rules and how they are enforced. There are several articles on this topic including Volume 13, Issue 2 – Rules – Post Them and Follow Them, and Volume 10, Issue 4 – Rule Pet Peeves.

Racers want to have a competitive car, but are often disadvantaged by a lack of previous experience, skills, tools, and supplies. To rectify this, race leaders should provide, at a minimum, the following assistance:

1. One or more workshops where participants can shape and weight their car body, and work on the wheels and axles.

2. A tip sheet provided to every participant (along with the rules).

3. The contact phone number and e-mail address of the race leader so that participants can get some consultation.

Invariably, I find that people who take advantage of a workshop end up with a car that is reasonably competitive. The slowest cars are always submitted by those that do not participate in the workshops.

To have a successful event, you must plan out the event, staff the event, and stick to the schedule. Generally, leaders get in trouble because of a lack of planning, a lack of trained personnel, and the lack of a time table (or an unreasonable time table).

The event plan is of course quite variable depending on the group. Some thoughts on this topic were included in Volume 7, Issue 12 – Pinewood Derby Race Organization

For the race, you will need trained personnel to keep the event flowing nicely. For our race, we have the following:

Three Stagers – These people stage the cars for the younger groups (the older groups stage their own cars). One person pulls the cars for the next race, while two people place the cars for the current race on the track. One of these two people run the gate and monitor the actual race.

Two Retrievers – These younger folks (it requires good knees) retrieve the cars for the younger groups and return the cars to the staging area.

Computer Operator – This person runs the race computer with the race software.

Cameraman – This person runs the video camera, which focuses on the car staging, then follows the cars down the track.

Announcer – This person announces the participants in each heat, and then enumerates the results. More on this person later.

Sound Tech – This tech runs the sound mixer and the sound effects computer.

When I find people that are good at a job, I try to recruit them again the following year. By using “veterans”, the race always goes much more smoothly.

Another important aspect to planning an event is car security. This topic was thoroughly covered a few issues back in Volume 13, Issue 6 – Handle Those Cars Carefully.

Having a nice venue can adds a lot of excitement to your event. You can go all out with decoration (like turning the venue into a virtual pit stop), or do it on a lighter scale. But certainly the venue adds to the success (or failure) of the event.

Seating is mostly about providing a good view of the track. Stadium seating is generally the best, but of course, not everyone has that luxury. If you don’t have stadium seating, then you can either:
– Place the track on the ground, and have small children sit on the ground, with older folks behind them in chairs, or
– Elevate the track and then have chairs for everyone.

I prefer placing the track on the ground for these reasons:

1. If a car jumps the track less damage occurs,
2. Steps are not required to place the cars at the starting line,
3. Setting up the track is a little easier.

There is lots of flexibility with decorations. Possibilities include table cloths, banners, flags, tires, cones, and much more. Really, it is just a matter of time, budget, and finding someone with the gift of decorating!

A good sound system is important for a successful race. A crowd of people rooting for their favorite car generates a lot of noise, so you must have a sound system that can handle the size of the venue, and the ambient noise level. A cheap, low-power system, or no sound system can really kill the excitement of an event.

In addition to a good sound system, sound effects can add a nice level of excitement. We use RaceFX(1) to add sirens, screeching tires, revving engines, etc. at opportune moments.

I believe that video adds a lot to the event. We have a video camera capture the race action and project it directly onto a screen (it also records the event for later critique). We project the race results from the race management software using a separate projector. If you have a good video mixer, you can accomplish this with one video projector.

All of the above topics add to the excitement and pace of the event. But here are a few more important points.

Pre-Race Events
Having a few pre-race events will help generate excitement, keep people entertained, and encourage them to arrive on time. Some possibilities include:

1. Hot wheels race,

2. Real race car in the parking lot for photo-ops,

3. Pre-race video,

4. Demonstration of unique cars – for an example of this see Volume 6, Issue 8.

5. Pre-race hot dog or pizza dinner.

As previously mentioned, the announcer reads off the names for each heat, and then the results of the race. But the announcer is much more than that. That person is the emcee and greatly contributes to the race atmosphere. A monotone announcer will tend to put people to sleep (I attended a race like this), while an enthusiastic announcer helps keep the energy level up. The announcer needs to be able to fill in dead time such as while results are being tallied. Our announcer brings a list of kid-friendly jokes, and keeps the crowd entertained whenever there is a lull in the action.

So when you are recruiting your announcer, make sure to pick someone that is comfortable in front of a crowd, has a good voice and is an exuberant person (also make sure they can pronounce names properly!).

Here are a few photos of our race venue:

1. A long shot of the venue showing the two video projectors and screens, traffic cones and caution tape, and checkered flags.

2. This is the end of the track with the video camera and sound effects laptop. Sorry about me being in the photo – this is the only photo I had of this angle.

3. Here is the car staging area with black table cloths. The race management computer is also shown. (The small table between the track and staging tables is removed before the race.)

4. Another shot of the end of the track showing the sound system.

Hopefully the information provided in this article will help you in
planning and implementing your race. If you have any unique things
that you do at your race, please e-mail them to me and I’ll include
them in a future newsletter.

(1)RaceFx can be found Here

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 13, Issue 10

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – February 4, 2014

Speed Trap – Chris Hailey

This is my son’s 2007 pinewood derby car called “Speed Trap”. He got the idea from this past winter when we had a little mouse trouble in the house. We went to Lowe’s, bought some mouse traps, and solved our mouse problem. But my son thought it would be funny if he raced a mouse trap this year. So, we studied a standard mouse trap, purchased some materials from our local craft store, and drew the initial idea on paper. It actually took us two tries to build this car, but we both think it turned out great! Hopefully, it will perform as well as it looks. If not, he hopes to win a design award.

Batman – Kerry Bybee

The inspiration for this car was the Batman car of the movies, but my son Brady wanted a pinewood derby car that looked like his Hot Wheels Batman car. So with a copier I enlarged the profile of the car to pinewood derby size. I used a scroll saw to cut out the car, and then a Dremel tool to shape it. It then took a lot of fine sanding to shape the wings right. I have built a lot of cars that have won and lost, but the Batman car stays consistent; it has never placed below 2nd at any race.

This car raced in February in our local pinewood derby and won 1st place. In then took 1st in a district race, 2nd in an RA race, and then 1st place in a local RA race. It also won 1st place in an Outlaw race; I added weight in the back between the high fins to reach the higher weight limit.

Velocinator – Shannon Davis

This is a prototype of the Velocinator1 which my daughter ran in a Parent/Sibling race in April 2007. This was our first experience with the needle axle wheels. The car was very fast, winning the first two heats. It then slowed down and took second the last two heats. We later found out that the axles had bent, either from the force of the run or from the abrupt stop. After the race we bent then back in place and made a test run. It immediately went back to the original performance. Oh well, a lesson learned!

1The Velocinator is available as a kit Here.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 4

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies