Don’t Forget the Car Parts

By Randy Davis
If you visit any pinewood derby event and view the array of cars, what
is the most popular design you will find? Almost certainly a basic
wedge, or a slight variation thereof is the most common car you will
find. When there are so many cars with the same basic look, it’s easy
for your car to get lost in the crowd.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with building a wedge.
But with very little effort you can add some pizzazz to your car so
that it stands out from the others. How do you do that? One way is
by using decals, pin striping, body skins, etc. We’ll explore this
avenue in a few weeks. But another route is by adding components to
your car. This could include engines, drivers, cockpits, pipes, and
much more. Let’s take a look at some possibilities.(1)
The pinewood derby market offers many choices for jazzing up your car.
The major hobby vendors and others offer motors, pipes, cockpits,
drivers, and much more. I recommend avoiding metal parts as they add
weight to the car in possibly undesirable locations. Instead use
plastic parts. Here are a few cars we did using plastic parts:

R/C Airplane canopy (cut in half)

Plastic Parts from Maximum Velocity
Canopy from Maximum Velocity (painted black)

Engine, Pipes and Windshield
(I broke my rule and used metal parts on this one)


Don’t want to invest in hobby shop parts? Then you can go the do-it-
yourself route. Here are a few ideas that we came up with.

Lego Cockpit and Driver
(The opportunity for using Lego parts is enormous)

Dune Buggy Design – Roll Cage from Aluminum Rod

Speeder Design – Rocket Tubes from Brass

Wedge Design – Exhaust Pipes from Copper Tubing
But since it is a “pine”-wood derby, let’s not overlook the use of
parts made from the block itself. There are lots of opportunities to
use the scrap wood to craft parts for the car. Here are a few ideas,
progressing from easier to harder:

Racer Design – Wooden Faring

Wooden, Faring, Side, and Front Trim

Formula 1 Design – Wooden Wings, Faring, and Side Intakes
The opportunity for adding detail to you car is limitless.
Oftentimes, very little time and talent is needed to make a big step-
change in the look of your car. So don’t let your car blend into the
pack; let is stand out by adding some car parts!
(1) Although many of the example cars are not wedges, the parts shown
could easily be applied to a wedge car.
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 10
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(C)2013, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.
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