Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – July 28, 2016

Roadster – Harry Brill

Joey, age 9, has always been a car guy since he was very small. He has an extensive hot wheels collection including some of the cars I saved from when I was his age. He’s been drawing cars for years. This year he told me he wanted to “go for looks”, although he still wanted the car to be fast. He drew a very detailed hot rod and my old hot wheels car came immediately to my mind. I asked him if he could find it and he brought it right out. We measured the car with a 6 inch ruler and scaled it up at first, but the wheel base was about an inch shorter than the maximum allowed so we stretched it a bit. Joey is very detail oriented so we went to the hobby shop and looked at model cars to find an engine. He was very picky, but we finally found one he liked. As far as Joey is concerned, the bigger the “blower”, the better! The dash, door panels, and window glass were also “stolen” from the model and modified with the belt sander to fit. The windshield frame is a piece of 12ga electric wire, and the seat was cut out of a piece of scrap. Joey cut the car on a band saw and scroll saw, and I routed the engine bay and weight pocket. We admittedly shared the sanding, as Joey doesn’t like to sand much. Joey picked the paint, and said he wanted flames. We thought we would just print up some flames on transparent stickers, but they wouldn’t show up so we painted them with mom’s acrylic paints. We also put on a few coats of acrylic clear spray. Joey prepared his axles by removing the mold marks, and I sanded them. The wheels this year were a matched set of official BSA wheels with no machining. We squared up and polished the bores with micro-gloss and that’s it! Joey didn’t place in the top 3, but he really loves his car, and he had a good time and a great attitude. In the process he continued to learn how to use power tools, solve problems, and the best part, I got to spend time with him.

1970 Mustang Mach 1 – J. Gravely

This 1970 Mustang Mach 1 was the last car built by my youngest son and I for his last race as a Cub scout. The car came in second place for
the Webelos in the district. The entire car is made with only pieces we found around the house.

Humvee – Paul Smith

I built this Humvee for the adult division in our church Awana Grand Prix. Its performance was somewhat mediocre, but the fun for me is
building them. It weighed 5.0 ounces on the dot. With the exception of the thin wire I used for the antenna, everything else was cut and
carved from pine.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 10, Issue 1

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(C)2016, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Ten Commandments of Pinewood Derby Racing – Updated

(An update of an article originally published October 6, 2004)

Most people know of the Ten Commandments.(1) When I was young they were posted in the schools, courts, etc. With the shift to a secular society this has changed somewhat. But life would certainly be better if everyone lived by these commandments.

In looking on the Internet for those elusive pinewood derby tips, on a few sites I found a version of the Ten Commandments for pinewood derby racing.(2)


1. Thou shall have no other car except thy own kid-built car.

2. Thou shall not exceed 5 ounces for thy car.

3. Thou shall not swear, or grumble or even bite thy lip over any race result, whether thou be car owner, sibling or relative.

4. Remember, Pinewood Derby is for the kids; thou shall keep it for the kids always.

5. Honor thy race committee and judges, lest thou be thanked for volunteering to be the next pinewood derby committee chair.

6. Thou shall not kill a child’s happiness on pinewood derby day by being a bad sport.

7. Thou shall not commit acts that undermine the bonds of parent and child.

8. Thou shall not steal the enthusiasm of any child on race day.

9. Thou shall not bear false witness as to any race result.

10. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s car, nor thy neighbor’s graphite, nor thy neighbor’s decals, nor thy neighbor’s good fortune.

I applaud these commandments, as following them certainly would help keep fun and excitement in pinewood derby racing.

But since I can’t leave well-enough alone, I would like to offer my version of the Ten Commandments for pinewood derby racing. These don’t necessarily parallel the Ten Commandments, but are certainly important rules to follow to have a fun and low-stress event (and a fast car too!).

Maximum Velocity Version

1. You shall start building early — Overnight jobs can turn out well, but the process is tough on the parent and the child (this also saves money on shipping charges if you purchase supplies on-line!)

2. You shall understand the rules before building the car — Don’t get disqualified, or have to do a last minute part change.

3. You shall design the car, including the weighting method, before cutting out the car — Adding weight after the car is cut out is difficult, and oftentimes a car-damaging undertaking.

4. Remember that a good looking car and a fast car can be one and the same, but often are not — Reserve enough time to work on the wheels and axles. They are responsible for at least 80 percent of the speed of the car.

5. Honor the spirit of the event by letting the child do as much work as they physically and safely can — It’s their car after all!

6. You shall respect your tools’ cutting edges — Keep them sharp, and away from your fingers!

7. You shall apply graphite to the wheels and axles at least three times — Apply the graphite before the wheels and axles are attached to the car. Spin the wheels 10 times after each application. (Keep mom happy, don’t do this in the house!)

8. You shall test and adjust the alignment of the car before race day — A well-aligned car has a big advantage over a poorly aligned car. Don’t break this commandment!

9. You shall handle the car carefully — Don’t play with it before the race, and store/transport it in a padded container.

10. You shall be a good sport — Don’t brag about your car either before or after the race, and offer your compliments to the other car owners.


Whatever your stance on the Bible, or on posting the Ten Commandments, I believe we can all agree that our society would be a better place if everyone lived by these rules. And I guarantee that your pinewood derby experience will be greatly improved if you abide by either version of the Ten Commandments of Pinewood Derby Racing!

(1) In summary, the Ten commandments are listed below (NASB version). They can be found in the Bible in Exodus 20:1-17.

1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.

3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

6. Honor your father and your mother.

7. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor

10. You shall not covet.

(2) Author unknown. Edits were made to make the commandments generic.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 10, Issue 1

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Pinewood Derby Memory – Not a Bad Day

My youngest son, Owen, was in his first pinewood derby. He loves his big brother Jackson so much that while building our cars he said, “I want Bubby to win, but I would like to finish 2nd.” Jackson responded, “Well, maybe you can get in the top four.”

On race night Owen broke his big brother’s track Record on his very first run. Then, as Owen had predicted, Jackson finished in first, and Owen finished in 2nd, so both got to move on to the District Race.

On the day of the District Race, we arrived and went through tech, with an hour to spare. With two racers I wanted plenty of time to fix the cars if they did not pass. All was well.

Ten minutes after racing should have started (An hour and 10 minutes after passing inspection) more than forty cars (just shy of half the field) were called to the front. For various “new” reasons they would not be allowed to race. We had only twenty minutes to comply.

The issue with our cars was that the inside hub was coned and should have been flat or square. My boys were very upset – probably because their Dad was in a panic.

I knew I couldn’t get both of my son’s cars repaired in time. How do I choose which one? I couldn’t choose, so I started sanding the hubs flat. Miraculously the cars were finished in time and were able to race.

Both did well, but Owen, in his first District Race, came in 3rd. (The Dad that caused the forty plus cars to be re-worked came in 1st – funny, huh?).

That same day our family had planned to drive to Indianapolis to celebrate my birthday; so immediately after the race we drove to Indianapolis (40 minutes away) to celebrate.

Also, that day the Indiana State Museum was allowing people to race on a three-story,”World’s Fastest Track”. Wow! It was awesome! We allowed the boys to bring their cars and each “Racer” (not scouts) was allowed two runs. Then we would be off to dinner.

It was so much fun. Wow! Over 400 mph scale speed!

Upon trying to leave, we could not find our cars? Oh, no!

Someone finally said, “You know, the fastest twenty four cars raced all week are having a little runoff tonight. Have you checked the “Fastest 24” table?

So, we did and to our delight both boys’ cars made the “Top 24” fastest cars of the week.

I know that:
a) no less than six states were represented,
b) while going through tech inspection, other than me and my boys, the average age of the racers was 50,
c) each had as many as twelve different cars in nicer cases then the Hope Diamond.

Anyway our day just got longer since we felt we had to allow the boys to participate in the runoff.

Well Jackson ended up getting bumped, 26th fastest. Then, Owen got to race. Owen came in 2nd on his first heat, 4th on his 2nd heat, then 1st on his 3rd and 4th.

Wow! He gets to keep racing! He’s in the top twelve.

He comes in 1st on his first heat. “No way!” say his parents.

He comes in 3rd on his 2nd heat. Okay more realistic.

Then 2nd place in both of his final two heats. Okay, that was fun now we can go eat dinner (7pm).

Oh my gosh! He made the “Final Four”. Are you kidding me? My wife and I are beside ourselves. Here is this teeny weenie six year old dancing and smiling, and the men are getting whooped by a kid barely 40 lbs. (No offense, but yes, many were engineers)

The “Final Four” race begins. Owen wins the first of four. Dad almost faints! In the end he comes in 3rd place overall (out of about 1,000 cars).

So, at the end of the day, a first year racer is driving home with two, 3rd place trophies.

Not a Bad Day!

Michael Onieal

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 9, Issue 14

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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – April 7, 2010

These three cars were made by Jim Brovont. Do you see the theme?


This was the first car we ever built together. He was a Tiger scout and we were told that the upturned nose would get it disqualified at the race as being designed to give unfair advantage at the start gate. So we ditched the surfboard and designed Flash.


Flash went on to take first in his den, and 4th in the pack. The rear axle pod was hollowed out and filled with lead prior to painting.

Luke Skywalker

My son Talon is a huge Star Wars fan so the following year we built Luke riding a speeder bike. It was built with front wheel suspension, the nose fairing has a cross piece at the height of the original block belly for a “fair” start and to catch the timer sensor. Our track has a very fast spring loaded start gate so raised noses are really an insignificant advantage in my opinion. This car was 2nd in the Wolf den and made a good showing of itself at the District race as well.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 9, Issue 14

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(C)2015, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.

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