You Can Build Great Pinewood Derby Cars With Your Kids

My sons (Webelos 2 and Webelos 1) have enjoyed building our pinewood derby cars together over the years. We have used a variety of products and the basic wedge design. I am a stickler about following the rules when it comes to building pinewood derby cars. We built the cars completely from the BSA kit provided, followed your design, axle and wheel preparation, and weight placement instructions. My boys designed their own cars, based on the templates provided. I cut and drilled the holes and they did the rest. I can tell other parents that I certainly was tempted to lend “more than a helping hand”, but remembered your “10 Commandments of Pinewood Derby Racing”.
I went over the basics of sanding, polishing axles, lightly sanding the wheels, painting and so on. The boys are old enough to use the wheel mandrel in a battery powered drill. Each day, we’d do a part of the car and then take a break. (Key: start early!!) They did all the work on their cars and finished with the painting. When I saw little things that I might have corrected, I would let them know and see if they would work on it or not. For the most part, they took my suggestions and made the adjustment. Their paint jobs were very nice – could have used some glossy finish – but they were happy with them. Off we went!!
Both boys placed 1st in their respective dens and my Webelos 1 placed 1st in the pack with my Webelos 2 placed 3rd in the pack of about 65 cars!! Here’s the most important part of the story. After the pack finals, I talked with both boys about how they liked building their cars. They said how much fun it was to get to do a lot of the work and they were excited about winning.
My Webelos 1 had NEVER beaten his brother in a race before. But he said, “You know, Dad. It would have been nice for my brother to win the pack since it was his last year.” My Webelos 2 looked a little disappointed after coming in behind his brother and I talked with him also. He was a little sad at first, but then said, “It was really great for my brother to win the pack. He has a really great car!” That’s the Scouting Spirit!! Of course, they were arguing about who’s car looked better on the way home. But hey, what are brothers for!!
SIDE BAR BONUS: I think the REAL reason they worked so hard on their cars this year is that our pack sponsored an open race for siblings. Their 5 year-old sister wanted to race a car so I helped her build it. She ‘painted’ it with a pink marker with purple flowers. We followed the same designs as before. She won by a large margin! At the end of the pack finals, they leave the track open so anyone can race. So we lined up all three cars and let them rip!! They were extremely close at the end, but the boys SLIGHTLY edged out their sister. There’s always next year!
MORAL OF THE STORY: You can build great cars together with your kids. You do not have to cheat or break the rules to build fast cars. Obviously a Tiger Cub will need more supervision than a Webelos 2. Start early, take some breaks, and enjoy your time. If it’s your first time, ask for help from other parents. Most folks are more than happy to share tips they have learned. Finally, remember your 10 commandments in pinewood derby racing and in life!
James Sedlak
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 4, Issue 12
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