Ten Commandments of Pinewood Derby Racing

Most people know of the 10 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 10 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 acting like 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 10 Commandments for pinewood derby racing. These don’t necessarily parallel the 10 Commandments, but are certainly important rules to follow to have a fun and low-stress event (and a fast car too!).
1. Thou shall start building early: Overnight jobs can do 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. Thou shall understand the rules before building the car: Don’t get disqualified, or have to do a last minute part change.
3. Thou 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 70 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. Thou shall respect your tools’ cutting edges: Keep them sharp, and away from your fingers!
7. Thou 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. Thou 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. Thou shall handle the car carefully: Don’t play with it before the race, and store/transport it in a padded container.
10. Thou 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 10 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 either version of the 10 Commandments of Pinewood Derby Racing!
(1) In summary, the 10 commandments are listed below. They can be found in the Bible in Exodus 20:1-17
I. Thou shall have no other gods before me.
II. Thou shall not have any graven image or likeness before thee.
III. Thou shall not take the name of God in vain.
IV. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
V. Honor thy father and thy mother.
VI. Thou shall not murder.
VII. Thou shall not commit adultery.
VIII. Thou shall not steal.
IX. Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor
X. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
(2) Author unknown. Edits were made to make the commandments generic.
(3) MVRV – Maximum Velocity Revised Version
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 4, Issue 1
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