Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 31, 2014

Touchdown – Mark Leedom

This is my son Derek’s 2014 entry for Pack 352 (Raleigh, NC). It is named “Touchdown” and uses your fender kits as well as your tungsten COG weights. This was the speed winner for the Bear Scouts this year, and next we move on to the Impeesa District derby!

Police Cruiser – Mark Leedom

This car was in response to your recent article on light bars. I wanted to share this low-tech solution that we had used last year. We bought these clip-on lights for the kids from a street vendor at our local 4th of July parade for $1 each. They weigh 0.2 ounces with the batteries and flash alternating red/blue. I used a Dremel to cut the clip off, and just a touch of poster putty to hold it in a hole I had drilled so that it was somewhat recessed. It didn’t win, but it was definitely a crowd pleaser!

Seriously Blue – Jason

This is our fastest car so far. It was so fast that the parents wanted a second inspection of the car. After passing yet another inspection, the races continued. This car took 3 trophies: fastest in age group – fastest over all – best in show. Thanks to Maximum Velocity and all the speed tips, the little guy and his Dad went home happy!

Vector – Russell Rau

This year’s car came out pretty cool with a carbon fiber-like overlay. The car set a track record its first race, then broke that the second race, but then slowed down the rest of the day. It developed a wobble, not sure why. Anyway, it was just quick enough even with the wobble to take first.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 13, Issue 13

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 28, 2014


The Dark Menace – Mark Shipley

This first-time car was built by Brennan Shipley and his Dad, and won second place in our pack races and qualified to participate in the District races on April 2014.

1950 Studebaker Champion – Andy Holzer

Ever since Noah’s 2nd year as a Cub Scout (way back in 2007) he wanted to make Fozzie Bear’s Studebaker Commander that was featured in ‘The Muppet Movie’. He really wanted to make the version that the Electric Mayhem re-painted to camouflage it from Doc Hopper. Now that he is 15 he realizes the difficulty of trying to paint a car to look like the original. But he still wanted to make a Studebaker. So the decision was made to build a Studebaker, Champion.

Noah races with the adults from his old pack; the Studebaker came in 6th place in that race. The next week, I completed my car and raced it against Noah’s car – the Studebaker was faster. I had signed up to race in the Fund Racer race with the Cub Scout Pack Noah is a den chief for. We decided to race the Studebaker instead of my Nomad. The Studebaker came in 4th in the FundRacer race.

1956 Chevrolet Nomad – Andy Holzer

The car I built for 2014 is a Chevy Nomad wagon. In the beginning, when I was thinking about building a Chevy wagon, I was not sure if I wanted to build a 210 Handyman Special version, a Sedan Delivery, or a Nomad. All I knew is it would be a two-door wagon. After looking at some pictures of the wagons and speaking with my neighbor, it was decided to go with the Nomad. The arched rear glass, the tilted door posts, and the additional chrome, the Nomad was a hot rod two-door wagon. It is still one of my favorite cars. I will have to work on the rear alignment to see if I can get it faster!

The Spirit of ’53 – Lee Klinghoffer

I named this year’s entry “The Spirit of ’53”. It’s a jazzed-up replica and tribute to Don Murphy’s original car design for the first Pinewood Derby in 1953. That year, the winner of the Indianapolis 500 was Bill ‘Vukie’ Vukovich. This car bears his nickname just behind the driver cockpit.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 13, Issue 13

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Pinewood Derby Memory – Pining Over the Derby

By Stacey Parkin

Call me paranoid, but I sometimes suspect that the Boy Scouts of America was formed as a means to relieve parents of their grip on sanity. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are many positive attributes to the scouting program, and just as soon as I come up with some, I’ll be sure to list them.

In the meantime, I feel compelled to discuss what I believe is a subversive attack on harmonious family relationships. This attack is sly, and innocuous in appearance, yet remarkably effective. One event in particular often turns normally peaceful and sane parents into competitive raving maniacs. I speak of course, of the Pinewood Derby.

For the uninitiated, the Pinewood Derby is an event that features races with small wooden cars. The scouts and their parents are given a block of wood, a set of wheels and a hearty “Good luck!” before the scout leader beats a hasty retreat, not to be seen again until the evening of the race. His disappearance helps facilitate the plot against parents by depriving them of anyone who can answer questions. Some people have asked why we must put our sons and ourselves through this experience. The answer is simple: the Pinewood Derby aids in the development of our young men, so that one day when they go out into the world and decide, for whatever reason, to make cars out of blocks of wood, they’ll be prepared.

Once the scout has received his kit, these rudimentary wood and plastic elements are supposed to be transformed, somehow, into a sleek, swift race car. While some debate the best method for creating these cars, I have found that what works well, for me anyway, is to hide and let Mike deal with it. Last year, when we had our first experience with the Pinewood Derby, I was innocent and naive. I wasn’t aware that the best way to handle the situation is fleeing the country.I still remember the look on Mike’s face when I handed him the kit our son’s den leader had dropped off earlier. He narrowed his eyes and looked at it suspiciously. “What is this?”

“It’s for the Pinewood Derby! You did this when you were a kid, didn’t you?” Mike looked at me blankly. “You know, you build a little car, then you race it against other little cars?” He still looked bewildered. “Okay, we can look it up on the Internet, and you can call my dad. He can help you.”

I have fond memories of the Pinewood Derby. I have three brothers who were all Boy Scouts. My father was something of an expert on cars in addition to being very artistically inclined. Each year, he produced beautifully crafted Derby cars. I was never permitted to actually handle these little works of art and neither were my brothers. In retrospect, I realize that preventing my brothers from helping with these projects probably defeated the purpose.

Making a car for the Pinewood Derby has the potential for being a great opportunity for parents and their children to spend time working together on a project. This was not the case at our house, however. The car was Dad’s project. The only responsibility my brothers were allowed to assume was harassing Dad and sneaking into his shop to play with the cars when Dad wasn’t looking.

After spending a great deal of time doing research by looking on the Internet and speaking to every scouting father he knew, Michael then interviewed my father, gleaning advice to help make this rite of passage as successful as possible. He returned home from work the next day informed and ready to begin.

“I’ve got it all planned. I know how to build the fastest and best looking car ever!” While Michael explained the importance of weight placement and the best way to carve the car, I indulged in fantasies of the happy bonding time my husband and our son would enjoy. I imagined them working in the garage, smiling at each other and having deep, meaningful conversations. I know I certainly enjoyed the peace. At least, it was peaceful until they came in the house and shattered my Norman Rockwell-like visions of father and son working together to craft a handmade toy.

After my little son stomped up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door, Michael emitted a sound that registered somewhere between a frustrated sigh and an infuriated howl. Approaching carefully, I put my arms around him and asked, “That bad, huh?” Mike sighed again and sat down wearily. He folded his arms across his chest, tipped his head back and closed his eyes.

“I think we should withdraw our son from Boy Scouts.” I moved behind him and rubbed his shoulders.

“Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad.”

“Can’t it? You wouldn’t believe what he wants to do to that car! He wants to carve it himself, and he doesn’t care when I tell him where we need to place the weights so it will go faster. Don’t even get me started on his thoughts about aerodynamics.”

“He knows what aerodynamics are?”

“Of course not, but I do, and he won’t listen.” I thought for a moment about how to impart my thoughts tactfully.

“Honey? You do realize this is our son’s project, right? I mean you need to supervise and advise but ultimately, this is about him.”

“Yeah, I know. I just don’t want to show up with a stupid looking car.”

I reminded Michael that young boys were also creating the other cars, so I was certain that the cars would all be equally stupid looking. I realize now that this was the foolishness of inexperience talking. In addition to Michael’s competitive nature, there was another problem. Mike is a perfectionist. Anything he produces or oversees must not only be better than anything else, it must be flawless. Our son, on the other hand, isn’t terribly concerned about perfection. Like many boys his age, he didn’t really care what the car looked like, he just wanted the wheels attached so he could play with it.

The next evening, the second battle of the Pinewood Derby car took place. Hoping to prevent another scene, I gave Mike a pep talk before he headed out to the garage. “Remember, this is about having quality time with your son. You can either create memories of working together that he’ll think of fondly, or let him make memories of being told to sit still while his dad built this car without him. Just remember, it’s his car, not yours.” Mike saluted me comically.

“Yes ma’am! I’ll do my best!”

It wasn’t long before my son came storming into the house in tears, complaining about bossy, overbearing parents. I went in search of my husband and found him in the garage muttering to himself. I could see he was agitated about something, but I interrupted anyway. “Problem?”



“He wants to paint it orange!”

“I see. So do we send him to military school now or should we try counseling first?” He eyed me in disgust.

“Orange isn’t a cool color. It’s going to look ridiculous.”

“Michael, it’s HIS car. If he wants to paint it orange with pink polka dots, that’s his choice.” Mike looked at me in horror.

“Pink? How can you even suggest such a thing? We’d be the laughing stock of the neighborhood!” Despite the drama, on the appointed evening, we arrived with a completed car. Michael and our son had compromised by painting the car red, with orange flames on the sides. I was genuinely surprised by the professional appearance of the other cars. Some even had little drivers with determined-looking faces painted on them. One had a license plate that read, “Eat Dust.”

All of the contestants spent a great deal of time before the race applying graphite to the wheels of the cars to ensure higher speeds, and doing practice runs on the track while Michael and the other fathers griped about how the cars shouldn’t be played with before the race. I listened absently to Mike’s complaining while I contemplated whether or not to tell him that rubbing his eyes and nose with his graphite covered fingers had left him with a really cool raccoon-like quality. (I decided against it when I thought about the photo-op that would occur after the race. I’m thoughtful like that.)

The races began, and I watched as my son cheered for his car. Michael was deeply engaged in conversation with the other fathers, speculating about the importance of weight placement. This only made things worse for Michael. He returned to my side uptight and concerned. “Now what?” I asked, even though I really didn’t want to know.

“Well, now I’m wondering if we should have placed the weights further back. Or maybe further forward. I don’t know anymore.”

“Michael, either relax and enjoy the evening or I’m sending you home, got it?”

“Sure, that’s easy for you to say, you don’t have a car in the race.”

“No. No I don’t. But I’d like to remind you that you don’t either. Our son has a car in the race, and it might be nice if we focused on him, don’t you think?” Michael had the decency to look a bit chagrined.


Our son’s car performed reasonably well. It didn’t win, but it wasn’t last either. The important thing, in my opinion, was that our little boy, despite his disappointment, was able to congratulate the winners. He had a wonderful time, and in my ignorance, I thought that was the point. Michael and I congratulated our son on his car’s performance and more importantly on his good sportsmanship, then we watched as he returned to the racetrack where the other boys continued racing just for fun.Michael waited until his son was out of earshot. “Is it really wrong that I wanted my car to win?” he asked. I refrained from rolling my eyes. Okay, I waited until he couldn’t see me, and then I rolled my eyes. As I gave him a hug and tried to offer comfort, I glanced over his shoulder to see several wives also comforting their husbands. One wife was tugging her husband out into the hall to quiet his ranting and sputtering about an unfair start.

It was oddly comforting to realize that my husband wasn’t the only man struggling with the loss. I couldn’t help overhearing one father comment angrily, “The only reason that boy won is because his father did all the work for him.”

“You mean the way you did all the work on your son’s car?” his wife replied. I decided to make my escape before I burst out laughing.

Over the past year, which I considered an ample mourning period, I thought Michael had recovered from his disappointment. I had hoped that he might actually feel a little silly about how emotionally involved he had become in the Pinewood Derby. Alas, my hopes were dashed at the last Boy Scout meeting, when the scout leader passed out seemingly harmless little boxes containing kits for making small wind- driven boats. “Don’t forget” she chirped, “This month is the Raingutter Regatta!”

I looked about the room and saw determined looks on the faces of the fathers in the room. I also noted the equally resigned looks on the faces of the mothers. A year ago, I was new and naive. This year I am an experienced mother of a Boy Scout. More important, I’m the wife of a Boy Scout’s father. I know exactly what to expect and how to handle it.

That is why I’m headed to an undisclosed location just as soon as I’m packed. It’s not that I don’t plan to help, though. Before I leave, I’m going to christen the boat. In tiny letters, I shall paint the name “Titanic” on the little hull. I’m hoping it will help Michael set his expectations at a realistic level. If nothing else, it might make the other moms laugh. If there are any mothers present, that is. I’ve extended an open invitation to all the moms to join me in my getaway.

Stacey blogs at:
Lifes a Funny Thing
Used by Permission

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 7

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 21, 2014


Luke – Luke Smethers

This is my son’s pine wood derby car from last year. It took best in show and 1st Place in the races. Luke did all the cutting, drilling and painting for the car. He also did most of the work on the axles and wheels, which as your readers know, is a lot more important than aerodynamics. We came up with the idea of the name plate as a car after making some when we first purchased the scroll saw. I wasn’t sure it would work, but in the end, it wound up being a cool design that is all his, literally. By the way, I think the scroll saw is the perfect saw for a youngster to use for cutting out a derby car. He still takes a risk of getting cut, but is very unlikely to loose a finger! If you look carefully, you can see in the picture where we had to glue the car back together after accidentally going too deep when drilling holes through the back end to hide the tungsten fishing weights. The center of gravity on the car wound up being less than an inch in front of the rear wheels in spite of the forward mass of his design. We had a lot of fun working on the car together. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with this year.

Tiger Cub Special – CP

This is the 2007 car my son made for last years race. He sanded the body and polished the axles for days. He got to use spray paint and mix epoxy for the first time ever. He added the sticker and metal tape for the windshield. The lines on the windshield are windshield wipers that he drew with a Sharpie! The paint was Rustoleum red “Hammered Finish” spray for a neat textured effect.

We spent a very long time getting it to roll straight. My son used your Pro-Axle Press on about twenty BSA kit axles and we picked the best 3 (the front left wheel is raised). We used six of your tungsten plates to add weight while keeping the profile low. The weights were epoxied into depressions we carved in the underside of the car. We added small wood screws to the side of the car in case it was over weight at weigh-in for easy weight removal if required. The CG was only about .85 inches in front of the rear axle and that was probably too aggressive as it did shimmy a bit in the flat part of the track.

In the end it paid off as his car was fastest in the den and pack, and second fastest overall in the district. I think this tremendous success is mostly attributable to equal parts luck and the time spent getting it to roll straight. I have no idea how we’ll follow up that performance this year!

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 7

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Build Progression

In talking with parents at our local workshops and across the country I find that the order of building the car is quite misunderstood. In many cases, people shape the car body before making any provision for adding weight. In other cases, the body is built without axle slots or holes, with the intent of adding them later.

While these unorthodox methods of building a car can sometimes yield good results, more often the car building experience is frustrating.

Today’s article will provide a proven car build progression, using the Wedge SE(1) as an example. This particular design, which adds some flair to the basic wedge design, can be easily built with basic hand tools. But, regardless of the final shape of the final car, the basic build progression still applies.

STEP 1 – Prepare axle slots

The first step is to examine and prepare the axle slots (or holes). Check the slots to make sure that they are cut square to the block, and if not replace the block. Then insert an axle (preferably a spare axle) into each position, and remove it. This will open up the slots so that when the wheels are installed, the axles will go in a little easier.

A more accurate way to prepare the slots is with a Pro-Body Tool.(2) This tool will prepare the slots and correct for slight slot deviation. The tool will create a deeper slot if you want a raised front wheel.

Slots Prepared with Pro-Body Tool
Left (front) Slot is Slightly Deeper

STEP 2 – Mark and drill for weight

Next, mark the block and drill the weight holes, or create weight pockets. For the Wedge SE, two deep holes are drilled in the back of the car, and three shallow holes under the car to accommodate lead wire.(3)

Weight Holes

If you are not sure how much weight will be needed for your design, an estimate can be made as follows:

1. Weigh the block.

2. Estimate the percentage of wood that will remain after the car body is complete. For example for the Wedge SE, the percentage is about 40 percent.

3. Multiply the weight of the block times the percentage remaining.

4. Weigh the wheels and axles (stock BSA wheels and axles weight about 0.6 ounces).

5. From five ounces, subtract the block weight (from step 3) and the wheel/axle weight (from step 4). This is the amount of weight that will be required to bring the finished car to five ounces.

STEP 3 – Rough Shaping

Next, weight is inserted into the back holes, the holes are plugged, and the block is marked for the main wedge cut.

Wedge Cut Marked on Block

After the glue dries, the excess plug is cut off, the main cut is made, and the top is sanded smooth. Next, the lines for the bevels are marked on the block.

Main Cut and Bevel Lines

STEP 4 – Final shaping and sanding

The bevels are then cut and sanded smooth. The nose of the car is then rounded with sandpaper. Finally, the entire car is sanded with 120 and 220 sandpaper.

Shaping and Sanding Complete

STEP 5 – Primer

You can prime the car at this point, but if you want a nicer finish, a thin layer of body filler, such as Bondo, can be smoothed over the car. When the filler dries, sand it smooth. Then prime the car with two or more coats of a quality primer. Lightly sand with 600 grit paper between coats.

Primer Coat

To simplify painting, try inserting a long screw into a weight hole in the bottom of the car. This screw serves as a handle for holding the car while painting, and also as allows the car to be attached to a hook or line for drying (I use a binder clip on a piece of wire that is strung between two legs of a workbench).

STEP 6 – Finish Coats

Next, apply the finish coats. I recommend Acrylic Lacquer paints, such as Krylon. Avoid enamel paints, as they have a long dry time and tend to stay tacky for several days.

To avoid runs, apply several thin coats instead of one thick coat. Make sure to read the paint re-coat instructions. Some paint allow recoating within one hour, or after 24 hours. What happens if you recoat in between? Trust me, you don’t want to know!

Finish Coats

STEP 7 – Detailing

Detailing is a completely personal choice. Below are several possibilities for completing this particular car.

Gator Body Skin

Two-tone Paint Job, White Pin-striping

For a two-tone paint job, paint the main color, and allow it to dry. Then mask with painter’s tape and paper, and apply the second color. Pin-striping can then be applied to cover the area where the colors converge.

Additional painting options can be seen at the following links:


Whether you build a simple wedge, or a complex design, I strongly recommend using the build order described here. By ensuring that the axle mounting system is established first, and the ballast weight is accommodated next, you will be on your way to building a great pinewood derby car.

(1) Complete plans for the Wedge SE are available in our Wedge Car Plans booklet.

(2) The Pro-Body Tool can be found Here.

(3) Lead wire can be found Here.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 7

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The Pinewood Derby

By John Thomas

Every year an elaborate ritual is observed, a rite of passage for young boys and their fathers — a test of sorts — the pinewood derby!

It is a test on several fronts: the boys are tested to see if they can follow directions (cutting, sanding, painting, etc.), the fathers are tested (Do I buy a pre-cut model? Do we do it from scratch? Do I make the boy do more? How do I make sure we win?), and even the mothers are tested (Why are they spending so much time on this? Why didn’t they start earlier?). The result is grueling weeks of competing interests and the final outcome — The Race. The race is the culmination of the preparation (or lack thereof) haste or deliberation, purchased goods or paying the price; it all comes through.

So without further ado, here is the story of the 2007 Pinewood Derby.

One month before the race: “Hi Dad. I got my pinewood derby car today at scouts. When can we start? I was thinking tonight.”

Two weeks before the race: “Hi Dad. Is it time to start the pinewood derby car yet?”

One week before the race: “Dad, the pinewood derby is next Saturday!”

And thus the mad rush begins. We first go scouting for a blueprint, for we are not girly-types who buy pre-cut models from the store. Benjamin and I find the website: After searching through all the blueprints, Benjamin narrows the field to four finalists, and from there to this:

Our course is set; we now have to build one of the most difficult cars they sport in one week. We need to get more tools! Off to Home Depot we go to get special drill bits, the right sand paper, and various other tools that can be excused away to making a good pinewood derby car.

After cutting out the patterns and tracing them on the pine block (and missing the first crucial step of aligning the wheel grooves), the wood cutting begins. Because of the design, a coping saw is used (which makes for really fun sanding later, let me tell you!).

Once the model is complete, the back end of the car is drilled out to specifications for the weights, which we purchased from Michaels. First lesson in chemistry: zinc does not weigh the same as lead! We try not to panic as the weights we purchased will never fit in the given area, even though we hollowed it out so much that the back had to be glued back together because it got too thin and cracked.

On contacting Maximum Velocity, they pointed out the difference between zinc and lead, and graciously sent us the correct materials overnight (for a small fee of course). We’re now down to three days before the race.

After several nights of sanding and gluing, weighing, frantically drilling out lead to reduce the weight, drilling out more lead weight to account for the wood filler that must be added to plug the hole, we finally have a fuselage. The painting process yields several new lessons learned about how hairdryers cause bubbles to appear in paint if used too close.

Because we’re now down to the last minute, we make the decision (at Dad’s suggestion) to take the carefully crafted wheels and axles from last year’s 2nd place car and make a few minor improvements for this year’s car. A polish here, an extra sanding there, and we’re in business.

Until the weigh-in. Ooooops, the car is 4.9 ounces (max is 5.0 and most boys are right there). “It’s okay”, I tell Ben. Weight is important, but weight distribution and lack of friction on the wheels wins the day.

So, when the big day arrives Ben has a cool, calm, and collected smile. The price has been paid, and now the fun can begin. If we don’t win (after Dad’s sleep deprivation-induced breakdown) everything will be okay. We did our best (given the time).

So, what do you think happened? Did Ben Win?

The way the races are run, a tally is kept of number of wins, and each boy competes against each other boy. There are 20 boys racing. Towards the end of the races, there are three clear winners, and Ben is one of them. And then … DISASTER STRIKES!

On Benjamin’s last race before the finals, after his car crosses the finish line in first place, the wood holding the front left wheel in place snaps clean off! I tend to think that some little kid near the finish line put their hand down (there were many crowding around) and scrunched it, but I’m assured by someone I trust who was there that it just came off. The only thing we can figure out is that because the axle slots were not perfectly parallel, the car did bump a little as it went down the track. This shimmying must have finally broken the slender wheel post. We were in big trouble; this was a fatal blow from which it seemed impossible that we could recover. I picked up the broken pieces and putting on my best face said to Benjamin’s concerned look. “We’ll do what we can. Come on, let’s go.”

As we walked away from the track, another dad mentioned that he had some epoxy glue. It was the kind that takes 5 minutes to set (and then it’s not full strength for a while) and we did not have 5 minutes. We had about two. But we would give it a go. But before I could get the glue completely mixed, Ben’s former Wolf leader dropped by our sad little camp with a small tube of liquid hope — Superglue.

It might just work, and we have nothing but to try. A quick application, a desperate vise grip, the clock ticking the seconds away when suddenly, our time is up. Benjamin’s name is being called and there is no more time.

The moment of truth has arrived. Benjamin takes the car to the track’s start and I quickly run to the finish line to instruct the car stopper person to please take it easy on the car. I figure if we make it through one race, which would be a miracle, at least he should be careful so that maybe we can race again.

The first race, Ben wins! The second race, Ben wins again, but in order to beat this guy, he’s got to beat him twice! The crowd starts chanting Benjamin’s number (and I start feeling sorry for the other boy, but the crowd is out of control and there is no stopping them now).

Eight, eight, eight, eight, eight, eight, EIGHT, EIGHT, the crowd chants, reaching a fevered pitch as the cars are placed on the track. Both boys race down to the end of the track as if they are the cars. Everyone holds their breath with one question on their minds: “Will Ben’s car break up into pieces or win the day?” Anything could happen!

A picture is worth a thousand words. So next year, instead of a long drawn out commentary, I’ll just post the picture.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 6

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 11, 2014


Dick Dastardly’s Mean Machine – Frank Tonra

Dick Dastardly’s Mean Machine is from the Saturday morning cartoon “The Wacky Races” of the late 60’s. Each year I make a pace car to test run the track so as not to wreck any scouts cars. First, I made a 3-D tiger car, then the Batmobile, and last year the Mean Machine. The car uses a BSA block with a few small draw knobs and a craft plant pot. The fins are balsa wood cut outs. Building this car was hours of fun, fun, fun!

Mustang – Rylan Darr

Here is our favorite Gulf Ridge Council winning design car. The Mustang 2+2 was built by Rylan in 2005 to compete in the Classic Car design category. He wanted to make a car just like his dad’s car in the garage. So we designed it together, cut it with a band saw, Dremel’ed out all of the contours, and sanded it smooth before applying a layer of primer and four layers of Black enamel paint. For added realism we removed the grill, lights, mirrors, door handles, and gas cap from a die cast Mustang and placed them on his car. The hood lettering and emblems were painted on by hand with a very fine brush. The finished product made him glow with excitement. It was not a fast car but it sure looked beautiful going down the track. I think that one day he may just have his own real mustang that he will restore like me. He sure is off to a good start.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 6

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – March 7, 2014


Jet-Powered Batman Car – Charles Mott

I bought the propeller car kit from you guys; I didn’t want it to be
obvious that it was powered, so I used a jet-powered Batman car as my
design inspiration. The plan was to build a body cover out of balsa
that I could slip over the propeller kit (which I modified). Knowing
this design wouldn’t let enough air in, and keeping with the
inspiration of the car, I added some extra scoops to the side.
Assuming it wouldn’t get too hot since it’s a quick race, I removed
the heat sink from the motor for better airflow, then added an
“exhaust nozzle”, and some other little accent pieces.

To my disappointment, our Pack didn’t have an outlaw class race, but I
kept my design within the BSA rules for size and weight – with the
exception of the hidden power plant inside! So I raced it (unpowered)
in the sibling/parent class.I placed somewhere around 5th or 6th. Then
after all the racing was done, they let me do two runs with power.
First run (on a 35 foot aluminum Best Track) with the beautiful body
on was 2.11 seconds. Then I removed the body and it ran 1.77 seconds!

Propeller Car – Jeff Ryals

I used your Needle Axle X-Lite wheels on the Propeller Car Kit and
they worked out great. Our average speed was 329.4 average, up from
316.8 last year. Now I need to figure out how to get more speed for
next year.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 13, Issue 12

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Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Maximum Velocity History and Photo Tour

When in a social situation, a common question that is asked is, “What do you do?” When I answer, “I sell pinewood derby cars”, the usual response is “You’re kidding!?” Then after a little explanation about Maximum Velocity, I am usually asked something like, “How did you get started?”

So, I thought I would share with you how Maximum Velocity started, and also provide a virtual tour of our facility.

Although, my memory is a bit hazy, I believe my first experience with pinewood derby racing was when my son was 6 years old. I was not particularly enthused with the project, but I helped him build a car for the event. It wasn’t much to look at, only weighed 4.9 ounces, and was lubed with a drop of silicone oil (the only redeeming factor).

First Car

The car was not particularly fast, but the race was organized in a strange way. All of the cars were raced to determine first place in each of the age categories. Then all of the remaining cars were re-run to determine second and third. Due to the number of cars, and some technical issues, the race dragged on for hours. As the time went well past the bedtime of my son and his competitors, many of them called it quits and went home. So, when it came time for my son’s car to race, there were few competitors remaining, and his car took third place. He was thrilled (and so was I)!

The next year, I was much more enthused, but I used a poor lubricant, and the cars did poorly. I felt bad for my kids (two involved that year), so I swore the next year would be different.

The next year, after some research, our cars did do better. But more to the point, I had helped at the check-in by adding weight to the cars with melted lead. By the end of the evening, my nerves were shot from avoiding burns, concern with damaging cars, and dealing with parents that wanted that last tenth of an ounce of lead added to the car. It was time for a change.

So, when 1997 rolled around I convinced the club leader that the parent-child team needed to add their own weight, and that to help them I would write and distribute a pamphlet with speed tips. This booklet was the first edition of “Speed to the Finish”, although it was not titled as such at the time. During the next two years, the booklet underwent many changes, and started to take its current format.

After the 1999 race, a friend suggested that I offer the booklet on the Internet (Internet retailing was just getting popular at the time). So in late 1999, was launched with the speed tip booklet as the only product. We didn’t sell very many booklets that year, but enough to realize that there was some potential in the market.

In 2000, we introduced the booklets, “Car plans” and “Advanced Car Plans”. In 2001, we introduced additional booklets, automatic downloading, and several weight products. The business was starting to take shape.

Up to this point, Maximum Velocity was a part-time endeavor, ran out of our house by my wife Elisa and I. I had been telecommuting for a Houston-based company for two years, when it became apparent that a change was coming; either we would need to move to Houston, or find another job.

After much soul-searching, budget-planning, and prayer, we decided to give entrepreneurship a go. Providentially, this was when Bill Launius (DerbyWorx) came up with his first tool, the Pro-Hub Tool, followed shortly after by the Pro-Axle Press and Pro-Body Tool. With the introduction of these tools, some car kits, and various other products, the first full-time season (2002-03) was a success. This was followed by a great 2003-04 season.

At this point, we realized that more space was needed. We first attempted to find a house that would accommodate the business. But then we found a commercial space for rent that was virtually perfect for our needs. So, during the summer of 2004, we moved into our current location.


Front Entrance

Our facility is located in a small business park in Peoria, Arizona. As the majority of our business is Internet-based, the store is set up as shipping facility (however, walk-ins are welcome).

When you enter the door, you are greeted by the racks of inventory, and the packing area (the big blue thing is a packing peanut dispenser). During the busy season, this area is worked by some full and part-time employees.

View From Front Door

Behind this area is our racks of bulk inventory, boxes, and other packing material.

Bulk Storage

Here is a half-used pallet of blocks for our MV Basic Car Kits. We go through a lot of blocks!

Blocks for Bulk Car Kits

Near the right-hand wall (below the packing peanuts) is where two tracks are located. The photo shows the end of the 35 foot BestTrack, and the start of the 32 foot Freedom track. Also shown is a wheel alignment board (and a rain gutter for regatta racing).

Tracks, etc.

To the right of the front entrance is our shelves of cars. The left hand side contains models of the cars in our car plans booklets. The right hand side contains our kid’s cars (less the ones they have at home). On top are boats, space ships, and propeller-driven cars.

Car Shelves

To the left of the front door is our lathe area. My favorite lathe is a Taig. It is a simple lathe that works great for wheel work. I also use it for polishing axles.

Taig Lathe

The other lathe is a MicroLux. Originally it was used for Speed Wheel and Axle production. Now that work is contracted to a local machinist. So this lathe doesn’t get much use, but as it has a feed control I find occasional use for it.

MicroLux Lathe

Finally our wood shop area contains three drill presses, a band saw, a dual-bladed table saw, a mortising machine, a shaper, a chop saw, a spindle sander, an edge sander, and a dust collection system. We also have a CNC router, which is not shown in this photo. All of our car kits are produced in this area.

Wood Shop

As in any business, there have certainly been ups and downs, but we have never been sorry that we started this business. I was always a jack of all trades, so entrepreneurship suits me just fine. I hope that God grants me the energy and health to keep up the pace so that we can help pinewood derby participants for many more seasons. If you are ever in the Phoenix area, please do drop by for a visit.

Randy and Elisa Davis, Owners of Maximum Velocity

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 6

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(C)2013, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.

Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies