The Muscle Car

The Muscle Car

Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 7, Issue 5
November 28, 2007

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Maximum Weight for Performance

- Humor

- Product Showcase

- Car Showcase

- Memory - Twins Undefeated

- Q&A

Editor's Notes
Reader Feedback

From James Whitlow regarding adult race leagues: "In addition to the leagues you mentioned in the last edition, we also run derby races with a point system championship. We are in our 5th year. Check us out at

From Stan Pope regarding "Credibility of the Race" in Volume 7, Issue 4: "This article should be required reading for everyone who wants to (or has to) run a PWD race! Lots of really great points in there! A couple of observations:

  1. When participants stage their own cars, multiple elimination without charts is easier to run than any charted methods. And it produces higher heats per hour with less bother than charted methods. Accuracy is good. For instance, a quintuple elimination race gives high probability of correctly awarding the first 5 place trophies.

  2. Electronic finish lines malfunction at times. It is really bad when the organizer allows the mechanically recorded result to stand while the entire audience saw that it was wrong! Even with the best electronics, there should be two finish line judges on duty to confirm or overrule the finish line electronics. But what should be done about disagreements?
Since heat reruns really slow the race progress and add unfair additional wear on the graphite, I like to combine these two observations as follows: For most of the racing, every judges' determination is honored! If the three judges (two human and one mechanical) disagree, each of their choices is treated as though he won the heat! This works very well with uncharted multiple elimination! The cost is that sometimes an additional round of heats is required, depending on the number of cars running. The extra round affects everyone's lubrication equally."

Can We Help?
If we can help you in any way with your pinewood derby project, or if you have any feedback regarding this newsletter, please contact us at:

Inventory Clearance Sale

We also have several items on Inventory Clearance. Supplies are limited so make sure to get these discounted products before they are gone!

Feature Article

Maximum Weight for Performance

Most pinewood derby races specify five ounces as the maximum weight. Ensuring that your car weighs five ounces is an important factor, as tests have repeatedly shown that top performance is achieved at this maximum weight (see "Weight Experiments", in Volume 3, Issue 14: March 31, 2004).

But what if your race rules allow more weight? Should you weight your car beyond five ounces? If so, how heavy should you go?

I ran an experiment to try to ascertain the "magic weight". The experiments were partially successful, but due to a variety of factors, one magic number is not possible. For example, all of the following affect the maximum weight:

Experiment Setup

The experiment used the following equipment:

Car Body

The Pinewood Wizard body was set up to weigh 5.0 ounces with the wheels and axles. Additional cylinders and smaller weights were incrementally added to achieve the desired weights. The car was centered weighted4, and all four wheels were running on the track (see Figure 1).

Figure 1
Wizard Body

Wheels and Axles

The wheels were used right out of the package. The axles were lightly polished and then lubed. The wheels/axles were installed on the car, and the alignment was checked to verify that the car rolled virtually straight.


One set of wheels/axles was lubed with Krytox 100.5 The other set was lubed with Tube-O-Lube graphite.


A 32 foot aluminum Freedom Track was used with a Judge Timer. For each run the car was staged in the left lane.

Experiment Procedure

The car was first run four times for lube break-in. Then, to minimize lube variance, the tests were made from low to high body weight, and then again from high to low body weight. The sequence was as follows:

  1. Three heats were run at 5.0 ounces.

  2. One additional ounce of weight was added, and three heats were run. This was repeated up to 10.0 ounces.

  3. Three additional heats were run at 10.0 ounces

  4. One ounce of weight was removed, and three heats were run. This was repeated down to 5.0 ounces.
Experiment Results

The following charts show the results of the test. The plots show the results with the high and low run removed for each weight.

Figure 2
Results with Krytox 100

Figure 3
Results with Tube-O-Lube


For graphite, maximum performance for a center-weighted car is reached at about 9.0 ounces. Likely, the maximum weight for a rear-weighted car would be less. The 6.0 ounce result appears odd. Possibly, the graphite required more break-in time, so the car was not performing at peak until the 7.0 ounce runs. The last three runs at both 5.0 and 6.0 ounces were better than the first three runs.

For Krytox, the results are inconclusive. Performance continued to improve through 10 ounces.6 Additional tests with a different test body would be needed to determine the maximum weight.

1Ultralight Speed Wheels are available

2Speed Axles are available Here. Scroll down to part #5095

3Tapered Tungsten Cylinders are on sale Here.

4Testing for the maximum weight with a rear-weighted car would be problematic as the weight would need to be added in such a way that the balance point would not be affected. The test vehicle would need a device to move the weight back and forth in small increments to adjust the balance point at each test stage. A method of accurately measuring the balance point would also be needed.

5Krytox 100 is available Here. Tube-O-Lube was used as the experiment was ran before Max-V-Lube was available. It is my belief that the general pattern would be repeated if other graphite lubes were used.

6Ten ounces is the maximum weight the Wizard car can hold without changing the aerodynamics.


Bad Metaphors from Student Essays
(actually these are mostly similes)

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.

Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr. Pepper can.

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

The thunder was ominous sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.

The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River .

Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.

The door had been forced, as forced as the dialogue during the interview portion of "Jeopardy!"

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter."

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.

The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium.

He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.

She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

Her voice had that tense, grating quality, like a first-generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band tightened.

It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

Every minute without you feels like 60 seconds.

Product Showcase

The DerbyDome
Great Christmas Gift!

The DerbyDome is a high-quality case for safely displaying pinewood derby cars. Unlike many display stands, the DerbyDome will protect your prized car from dust, accidental bumping, toys thrown across the room, etc. The DerbyDome has the following features:

The DerbyDome makes a great Christmas Gift for the "Pinehead" in your family!

DerbyDome - $1.00 Off!

Until December 11, 2007, you can purchase the DerbyDome at $1.00 off the regular price. To take advantage of this limited time offer,
Click Here.

1The mounting clips fit cars with the standard wheel base (scouting and PineCar kits). For cars with an extended wheel base or a centered wheel base (Awana kits), only 1 pair of wheels will attach. In this case, Velcro can be used to add additional holding power.

Car Showcase

(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

Share Your Pinewood Derby Car Creation
Do you have a car you would like to 'show off' to our readers? If so, send us a photo of your car along with a brief description of any special features. Also, please include your full name. If selected, we will include the photo and description in this newsletter.Please e-mail photos to:

Photos must be sent by e-mail in JPG format (minimum size of 640x480 - maximum size of 1280 x 960). Please shoot photos from the front left of the car, similar to the orientation of the cars shown above.

Send only one photo per car, unless an additional photo is needed to adequately show a feature. Also, only one car per subscriber per year please. Thanks!

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, Dylanís car took first in his den and first in the pack. Hunterís car took second -- his only loss was to his brother. We couldnít 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 Dylanís car. The crowd went wild; the twins had won first and second in the District!

Joe Bilyeu

Share Your Pinewood Derby Memory!
I am sure there are many stories to share. Please jot down your humorous, unusual, sad, or heart-warming pinewood derby tale and send it to:

If your memory is used, you will receive a $10 coupon in May of 2008.

Don't worry about literary polish. We will edit as needed. Also, please read our Submission Policy


What kind of glue do you recommend for gluing the axles in?

After inserting the axles and making sure that you have them exactly where you want them, put a dab of white glue or carpenter's glue in the slot between the tips of the axles. Spread it over the top of the axle, then wipe off the excess. Keep the glue away from the wheels, and leave the car on its back until the glue dries. I don't recommend Super Glues (can run into the bore and lock up the wheels), or Epoxy (makes the installation virtually permanent - very difficult to remove the axles if needed).

The block of wood from the BSA kit has precut wheel positions. The length of one end is longer than the other. Most cars I've seen use the short end for the nose. My grandson's pack and district allow cars to be 7-3/8 inches long and I plan to add the additional 3/8 inch to the long end. The track they use is from BestTrack with a transition radius of 48 inches. My question is that with the longer nose do you think the nose will hit the track during the transition? Also what effect will this longer nose have on stability?

Not to say that it couldn't happen, but I have never seen a case where the nose hits the lane guide. In fact some people cut off part of the short end, and glue it onto the long end, increasing the length of the nose even further.

Regarding stability, since the wheelbase is not changed, the car should have no change in stability as long as the balance point is not too aggressive.

Our district is having a Big Rig competition this year. One of our senior members remade the 18 wheeler kits from years ago. The problem is the axles. He gave everyone standard nails to use. Do you have any suggestions for a better starting point than a nail?

I would use a piece steel drill rod or stainless steel rod. Then you can find small beads at a craft or bead store to use as the end caps. You may need to drill out the bead hole to match the axle diameter. Glue the beads onto the end of the rods, and you have an axle.

Do You Have Questions that Need Answers?
Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, send your question to: We answer all questions by e-mail, but not every question will appear in the Q&A section of the newsletter.

Back Issues

Are you a new subscriber, or have you missed some of the previous newsletters? Don't miss out!

We have just added an index of all newsletter articles since the first edition in October of 2001. We hope this helps you find information more quickly. To view the index Click Here

All of the issues for Volumes 5 through 7 are posted on our web site:

Volume 7

  1. Volume 7, Issue 5

  2. Volume 7, Issue 4

  3. Volume 7, Issue 3

  4. Volume 7, Issue 2

  5. Volume 7, Issue 1
Volume 6

  1. Volume 6, Issue 1

  2. Volume 6, Issue 2

  3. Volume 6, Issue 3

  4. Volume 6, Issue 4

  5. Volume 6, Issue 5

  6. Volume 6, Issue 6

  7. Volume 6, Issue 7

  8. Volume 6, Issue 8

  9. Volume 6, Issue 9

  10. Volume 6, Issue 10

  11. Volume 6, Issue 11

  12. Volume 6, Issue 12

  13. Volume 6, Issue 13

  14. Volume 6, Issue 14

  15. Volume 6, Issue 15
Volume 5

  1. Volume 5, Issue 1

  2. Volume 5, Issue 2

  3. Volume 5, Issue 3

  4. Volume 5, Issue 4

  5. Volume 5, Issue 5

  6. Volume 5, Issue 6

  7. Volume 5, Issue 7

  8. Volume 5, Issue 8

  9. Volume 5, Issue 9

  10. Volume 5, Issue 10

  11. Volume 5, Issue 11

  12. Volume 5, Issue 12

  13. Volume 5, Issue 13

  14. Volume 5, Issue 14

  15. Volume 5, Issue 15
Issues from the four previous seasons are available in four formatted volumes, ready for immediate download. To find out more, Click Here.

Newsletter Contributions

We welcome your contributions! If you would like to contribute an article, a web site review, or a speed tip, please send it to:

Please read our submission policy.

Subscription Information

The Pinewood Derby Times is a free e-newsletter focused on the Pinewood Derby. It is published bi-weekly from October through April.

Please Forward This Issue to a Friend

If you haven't already done so, feel free to forward this issue to your pinewood derby friends. Thanks!

Sign Up

If this newsletter was forwarded to you, why not subscribe to receive this newsletter. It is absolutely FREE and your e-mail address is safe, as we never release our distribution list.

Please don't subscribe your friends. Let them decide for themselves. Thanks.

To subscribe, enter your e-mail address below and press 'Subscribe'. You will be sent a confirmation e-mail. Reply to the e-mail to complete the subscription.

Type Your E-mail Address

Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times

Copyright ©2007, Randy Davis. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint or place this newsletter on your web site without explicit permission. However, if you like this newsletter we grant permission, and encourage you to e-mail it to a friend.

The author disclaims any personal loss or liability caused by utilization of any information presented in this newsletter.

The Pinewood Derby Times is not specific to, and is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts, YMCA, Awana, or any other organization.

®Maximum Velocity! is a registered trademark of Maximum Velocity! Pinewood Derby Products.
Pinewood Derby, and Space Derby are registered trademarks of Boys Scouts of America. All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Mailing list services are provided by: