Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – May 29, 2014

Green Airfoil – Bob Drag

This is the car my son, Glenn, entered for his Pack’s, 2008, Pinewood Derby. This design features an extended wheel base, with a COG approximately 7/8 inch forward of the rear axle hole. The weights consisted of 3.5 ounces of tungsten cylinders. Overall weight was dead on at 5 ounces. The airfoils were made from 3/4 inch aluminum streamline tubing. The front airfoil helped us create a high ‘front end’ that was still inline with the front of the car in order to take advantage of the forked body. And, it allowed us to keep a maximum distance on the wheelbase. Now, we never expected the airfoils to add any aerodynamic advantage, but in the mind of an 8-year old if it looks fast, it goes fast! And, when the car was unveiled on race day, the ‘8-year old mind’ in a lot of parents sure took over. The intimidation factor was off the charts. But, the end result paid off for all the hard work that went into the building of the car. Glenn’s car was the fastest at his level and the bonus was the 2nd place for best design. Since our Pack does not run an overall Pack championship race, the next stop is the Council race.

Deuce and a Half – Robert Knapp

This year I decided to build a replica of the Deuce and a Half I once owned. It is a 1952 GMC M-211. I made the truck with two derby kits and a 2×4 for the cargo area. By hollowing out the underside of the truck I was able to get the weight down to 4.9 ounces, it is also regulation length measuring 7 inches. Two of the rear wheels were raised using the Pro-Body tool. The truck performed well in the parent-sibling race. It seemed to be a hit with the kids as well.

Carcophagus – Kyle Wilson

My son wanted to do ‘Most Unique’ car again this year. He has tried this every year since winning it as a Tiger. Since he was doing a school project on Egypt, he was ‘bitten’ by the mummy bug. He came up with “Carcophagus”. It was a pretty cool idea. The most involved part was the painting. I put the tungsten weights in the back above the wheels. I drilled a little hole underneath for the tungsten putty. This was great for
adding .01 ounce.

On race day, he shocked everyone! He pulled the fastest time of the day on his first run. It was 2.574 seconds. Most scouts were in the 2.6 range. It just didn’t look fast. He won the next two races also with times under 2.6 seconds. He was well on his way to the top speed. Then on his last run, he was leading a good bit, when the car suddenly slowed down one foot from the finish. It finished with a 2.8 seconds.

I couldn’t believe it! Then someone picked up something from his lane and handed it to me ! It was that tungsten putty. It had fallen out from underneath his car ! I felt devastated. This was MY fault for not jamming that putty in the cavity HARD. I still haven’t forgiven myself. I’ll give credit to my son; he took it better than I did. He just asked if we were still going to Dairy Queen afterwards. Of course we did! I am so proud of him and his car. Lesson: jam that putty in there after it passes weigh in.

Editor’s Note: Tungsten Putty will stay much better in a smaller, deeper hole, than in a larger, shallower hold.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 13
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Pinewood Derby Memory – What a Difference a Year Makes

Last year was the first pinewood derby race for my son and I. We worked together to design and paint the car. Since he was just a Tiger I did all the dad stuff. We decided to use a surfboard model and were quite proud of our end result. I didn’t do enough reading and at the day of the race the car could not reach the finish line. I had the car weighted to 5.0 ounces and I thought evenly balanced. Regardless of the reason, my son was devastated (I was equally upset).

Enter 2008. This year I was determined to have a much better car – one that would at least finish the race. As my son was a year older he had more input into the car design and the building of the car. Like all boys of his age, he is greatly influenced by his father and is a fan of classic Rock and Roll music. He wanted the car to look like his electric guitar. I told him that would not be possible due to the placement of the axles. He told me that he wanted a Rock and Roll car. My wife suggested that we make it look like a rock, and call it Rock-N-Roll. He LOVED the idea. We worked together shaping the car. We took some modeling clay to give the car a more rounded look. The clay was a paper base and I didn’t plan on it providing much weight, so I attached a bar weight to the top of the car to assist the clay’s adhesion. Once we got the clay on and dried I took it to the Post Office for the initial weighing. It was heavy – almost 8 ounces. We took the car home and removed a good deal of clay and wood. I had bought a scale (it was not a digital scale – the first of my mistakes) and thought I had brought it down to 5 ounces. So I began the paint job. We used the “fleck stone” paint that looks like granite, and had the car looking like a rock. It was neat and everyone was excited to have Rock-N-Roll race.

I had purchased a second car kit to build my daughter a car. Really I just wanted to build another car and try some of the things I had read from This one was more of my design, a shaped surfboard, but with the weights placed inside the block not on the bottom. I was working on this car, but focusing most of my attention to “Rock-N-Roll”.

Now for the second of my mistakes. I had read the announcement for the official weigh-in and registered it for the Thursday and Friday before race day. I showed up at the weigh-in on Thursday, just as it was starting. I placed “Rock-N-Roll” on the scale and it registered 7.4 ounces! I was stunned. But I was thinking that I had all night to get it to weight, re-set the wheels and have it ready for the next day. Then the race master said that I should have come by the night before to weigh my car — I had misunderstood the dates and I showed up on the second night of weigh-in. I had two hours to get the car to weight!

We drove home and I told my daughter that her car (which was also overweight) would have to sit this race out as I needed to spend all my time getting “Rock-N-Roll” to weight. I carved out as much as I could without affecting the axle grooves and wheels. I went back to weigh the car and was down to 6.4 ounces — still greatly overweight. I returned home and started drilling out even more of the car and in my haste I hit the axle groove. Rock-N-Roll would never race. I was crushed. I told my son and he again was devastated. I called the race master to let him know that we would not be able to get Rock-N-Roll to weight and that I had broken the axle placement. He remembered that I had brought the second car to the weigh-in and suggested that I bring it by to weigh again to see if we could enter it. I stripped some of the top-side weights off the car and shaved some more wood off of it so it would make weight. Placed the car on the scale and it registered 5.05 ounces. The race master told me that I should take a little more weight off the car so I could paint it and bring it to him in the morning.

For all his help and understanding, I volunteered to help with the setup on Friday night, and assist in running the race on Saturday. I sanded down the car again, re-painted it, and while the paint was drying spent some extra time prepping the wheels and axles. We turned in Red Racer on Friday with it weighing exactly 5.00 ounces

Friday I helped put the track together, and had brought what was left of Rock-N-Roll to the school. The race master wanted to see how a heavy car would run. So even with the damage to the wheelbase we ran it against some other cars, and it performed horribly. Now I was scared. I had a car that was overweight and I still couldn’t compete against other cars. How would Red Racer perform? How would my son react? I did not sleep well that Friday night.

Race day came and Red Racer was not scheduled to run until the third Wolf heat. I am busy shuffling cars back and forth from the staging area to the starting line. When Red Racer was placed in the starting gate I saw my son at the other end of the room. We waited for the start to see how it would go. The gate dropped and all the cars started down the track. At the base of the curve Red Racer looked good then he seemed to accelerate down the track! He won the race by several car lengths and set a track record for his age group! Happiness and joy overwhelmed both my son and me. I saw him cheering and celebrating with tears in his eyes and I was a little misty-eyed at the moment too. In all of the age-group heats, Red Racer was the fastest car. It was getting faster and faster as the day went on. It never lost a Wolf Group race. When it was time for the fastest in the pack it had the number five best average time and the number three fastest time. Red Racer held its own during the finals but ended up with just one trophy – fastest Wolf. It finished fourth overall.

I am so glad that I had the second kit and I am so glad that I spent the extra time on learning how to improve the cars performance.

Kevin Bryant

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 12

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – May 15, 2014

Wii – Dan Van Lieshout

Here’s a picture of my son’s car from our pack’s Pinewood Derby last week. He took First Place in his Bear den this year. Christopher is becoming an old hand at car construction by doing more and more on his car every year. He got his start at age four helping dad building and racing cars in our pack’s Open Class. He was up to his third car by the time he was a Tiger. This year we didn’t have a lot of time so we decided to keep the shape simple, but still came up with a clever design. Thus, he built the Wii. Aside from using the table saw and general machine setups, Christopher did pretty much all the work on his car.

Red Dragon – David Keith

We just had our derby last Saturday, and we not only won first place but set the track record. I love pinewood derbies! I’m 42 and still have the cars my dad helped me with.

Fire Dragon – John & Jakob Harig

You probably remember me – I’m the guy who ordered from you this year only to get notified of new rules a week later. Well, despite the rule change, Jake won again! The margin of victory was much smaller, but still the fastest car of the pack.

Under the aft canopy we hid two of your tungsten cylinders. We installed a single tungsten plate on the bottom angled section. A hole in the back included two more cylinders secured in place by tungsten putty. The COG was aggressive, about 0.8 inch forward of the rear axles.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 12

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Pinewood Derby Memory – How close? Very close.

I am the Cascade Pacific Council Thunderbird District Pinewood Derby Chairman, and have been so for about five years. For several years more I have also been holding pinewood derby speed clinics for Cub Scouts in my district, as well as pinewood derby classes at the yearly council Pow Wow for adult Cub Scout leaders. The intention is to make as many as possible aware of the rules applicable to pinewood derby car building, as well as creating a level playing field by sharing building techniques and speed secrets.

In the pack I am associated with we have an Open Class division for anyone who wishes to build and race a car. The main intention is to help prevent a Dad from dominating the building process for his son’s car (much like you see in the movie Down and Derby). Of course fun for more people is the byproduct. I also have an open class division during the district race. In both cases the cars must be built to the same standards as the Cub Scouts cars.

When I hold a Speed Clinic, I hold nothing back. All the building techniques I know are shared with all. This has played against me as far as my being able to dominate in the open class races!

At last spring’s district race a man named John, who happens to also have a son in the same pack as mine, built and raced a car that was the equal of mine. Just how equal I would not have suspected.

We use a six lane aluminum Best Track and a computer program to place and track the cars for the district race. Each car runs six times, once on each lane. The races for all ages had gone smoothly throughout the day and now it was time for the Open Class to race.

The Open Class cars thundered down the track to much cheering. My car was doing well and so was John’s car. When the dust settled and the results were tabulated and compiled by the computer, the operator of the track, Tony, turned to me with a look of shock on his face. He told me I lost to John and it had been close. How close? Very close.

Over six runs of accumulated time of about 20 seconds I had lost to John by a mere one thousandth of a second! Well you just can’t get much more equal then that; and oh yeah, my 13 year old son’s car beat both of us.

Randal Veenker

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 11

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – May 2, 2014

Today’s showcase cars are examples of scaling from model cars.

Venom – Steven & Noah Hunnicutt

Noah developed this design based on a Hot Wheels “Venom” car. The tricky part was drilling holes sideways and vertically, and carving out the shape with a Dremel tool. Two sets of tapered weights are screwed to the bottom. At the race, Noah won a trophy for “Most Creative”.

Formula One – Lawrence Eaton

In November of 2007, Toyota (New York Region) started what (hopefully) will be an annual pinewood derby for the service technicians of all the Toyota dealerships in the region. The region is broken into districts, with the dealerships of each district competing, and those winners then compete against the other district winners at the Regional finals to be held in New Jersey. My district had its race last night (eight dealerships, thirty-one entries). Using parts, tools, and information from your web site, my Formula One car was not only the Best in Show, but also the
district winner.

’69 Mustang – Lyle D. Leis

I thought you might be interested in a pinewood derby car I recently built based upon a ’69 Mustang Hot Wheels car.

My son’s Cub Scout pack recently sought donations to purchase a new pinewood derby track. To show the pack’s appreciation, I was asked to build a pinewood derby pace car that would show the track sponsor names, and be used to commemorate the opening of each year’s race.

I chose the ’69 Mustang because of its classic appeal and its easily recognizable features. I limited myself to the wheelbase, overall size and weight of a standard BSA pinewood derby car, since I wanted to show the scouts what was possible within the confines of the rules.

The hollow car body was glued up from 0.25 inch thick pine based upon the profile drawing I designed. It was shaped, sanded, primed, and painted with sapphire blue metallic enamel followed by high gloss clear coat. Since the rules required the use of only unaltered official BSA wheels, the large wheels and low profile tires had to be simulated with paint.

Unlike most pinewood derby cars, the chassis and running gear was made as a separate unit and the hollow body was attached to the chassis. This allowed the body proportions to be more realistic. The small block under the body is a hollow compartment that holds lead shot, allowing for slight adjustments in weight to meet the weight limit.

The windows and sponsor names were created using a Testors custom decal kit available at hobby stores.

As you can see, I could not completely capture the original, but the car is clearly a ’69 Mustang. The second photo shows the body separate from the chassis. Many people can’t appreciate the time and effort that went into this wooden car, but I think that your readers might have a pretty good idea.

The Pace Car was a big hit at the race and it was very rewarding to see the admiration of the Cub Scouts and parents. We hope to send photos to the sponsors showing their logo along with a note of thanks signed by the Cub Scouts in the Pack.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 11

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