Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – November 28, 2014

Iron Man – Randy Davis


I built this car as a prototype for a CNC machined car, but the shop I was going to use closed down. Oh well. I still had the prototype, so I entered it in our local Outlaw race and it took 1st Place in speed and 3rd Place in design. I used some X-Lite Outlaw wheels that were machined from Turcite-X. The wheel color doesn’t really match the car color, but the wheels certainly draw attention to the car.

Olaf – Richard Larson

Olaf ran in our local race as well, and took 2nd Place in design and speed. Every year, Richard builds great looking cars. Here are links to a few of his previous cars:

‘Mater

Red

Finn McMissile

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 14, Issue 4

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Rail-Riding – Getting that Extra Speed

By Randy Davis

If you have spent any time on the Internet researching pinewood derby racing, you will have ran across the term “rail-riding”. This alignment technique had been used for many years by a select few, but became popular around 2008.(1) The Pro-Rail Rider Tool, the Pro-Axle Bender and other tools were introduced soon after to facilitate the implementation of this technique.

But with all of the tools, videos, and documentation available, I still get many calls from confused car builders about rail-riding. Therefore, the intent of today’s article is to organize the many facets of rail-riding in such a way that clarity can be attained.

WHAT IS RAIL RIDING
When a pinewood derby car rolls down the track, it will contact the center guide rail.(2) Each time a wheel contacts the rail, some performance will be lost. Moreover, when a rear wheel contacts the rail, even more performance is lost since the rear wheels carry the majority of the car’s weight.

So, the fastest car (all other factors being equal) is one that never touches a guide rail. It would seem then that setting the cars alignment to go straight would be the best bet. This might work if the track was perfectly smooth and level, but we all know that is a pipe dream. All tracks will lean one way or another (and some lean both ways alternately by track section). So, a car that is set to run straight will follow the lean of the track, resulting in contact with one or both wheels on one side of the car.(3) In addition, if the car is a three-wheeler (with a raised, non-spinning wheel) and the raised wheel contacts the rail, the advantage of the raised wheel is lost.

How can we compensate for this? Recognizing that the least amount of loss occurs when the lightest loaded wheel (a front wheel) contacts a rail, if we could set the car’s alignment so that a dominant front wheel is the only wheel that contacts the rail (the non-raised wheel for three-wheel cars; your choice of wheels for a four-wheel car), we would achieve the least guide rail losses. This is the basis of rail-riding.

Read the entire article on Rail-Riding Here

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 14, Issue 4

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – November 14, 2014

Speed Racer – Nick Fish


This Bear pinewood derby car was built by Nick Fish and his Dad. We love Speed Racer, so we did our interpretation of Speed’s Mach 5. It won the den and took first place in the pack without losing a race. District competition was a lot tougher with a 5th place finish. The car is a modified Wing design using a 3.5 oz. tungsten canopy, tungsten putty for the final weight adjustment, raised front wheel, polished/grooved axles, aero underbody, and custom graphics.

The Reaper – Jason Otis


My pack’s Pinewood Derby Bandit/Open Class is pretty competitive every year, to the point where we had to create a class just for the parents. I got tired of coming in second, so I put this thing together a couple of years ago.

The main body is from an original BSA Pinewood Derby Kit, and the fan shroud was carved from three pieces of glued-together 2 X 4s.

Specs & Info:
Propulsion: 55mm 8-Blade 60K RPM ducted fan (19oz thrust)
Power: 3-Cell 11.1 Li-Po Battery
Best Track Times: 32-Foot Track-1.111 sec, 38-Foot track: 1.267 sec

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 14, Issue 3

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Pinewood Derby Awards

By Randy Davis

Should every child entering a pinewood derby race get an award? Or should only the top cars for design and speed be given a trophy? How about a compromise? The answer to these questions will likely vary from person to person, and depends a lot on your philosophy of raising children.

I am not a child psychologist, so I can’t argue the theory that underlies awarding children. But I am a parent that cares about my children. Before they leave our home, I want to give them a solid understanding of how they should behave and what they should expect to encounter in the world.

I do not believe that every child should be equally rewarded, that is, no winners and no losers. This is certainly not the way the world operates, and teaching a child this perspective will not prepare them for reality. In my opinion children need to understand that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, and greater effort leads to greater opportunities for winning. Learning how to deal with losing (and winning) builds character and maturity. So I believe that trophies for the fastest cars and best designs are certainly appropriate.

NON-TROPHY AWARDS
But on the other hand, I think providing a larger variety of awards can be a great encouragement for kids. These can be certificates for: “Best Paint Job”, “Car Most Likely Built By a Kid”, “Silliest”, “Funniest”, “Most Aerodynamic”, etc. If you are interested in providing these types of certificates, many free downloads are available on the web. Just search for “pinewood derby certificates”.

Be careful with these type of awards. If you decide that every participant will get one, then it will be a big challenge to make sure that the number of certificates match the number of entrants, and that the awards are given out appropriately. Again, I don’t believe it is necessary for every entrant to receive an award of this type. But
that leads to…

PARTICIPATION AWARDS
Providing all entrants with a ribbon (or alternate) for participating is certainly appropriate. I am still amazed how much my kids like those ribbons. Even when they won a trophy, they would drape the participation ribbon over the trophy.

Participation awards can be more elaborate. Stan Pope has provided a neat idea for providing a mounting plaque for every car. The plaque has the date of the race and group name/number.

Certainly other participation awards such as pins, patches, etc. can also be used. In recent years we have gotten away from ribbons and have been giving each participant a “Hot Wheels” car. My wife watches the ads and picks them up for less than $1.00 each. These are a bit more expensive than ribbons or patches, but the kids really like them (a lot of trading goes on after the race).

CONCLUSION
I realize this article is a bit short, but of course my experience is limited to the races sponsored by our organization. So, I would like to get your input on this topic. If your group has a method of providing awards that works well or is unique in some way, please send me a description. I will try to include your comments in a future newsletter. You can send your comments to:
info@maximum-velocity.com.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 14, Issue 3
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