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Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 12, Issue 3
October 31, 2012

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Streamlining the Weigh-in

- Humor

- Product Showcase - New Paint Stand

- Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

- Q&A

Editor's Notes

Zucchini Race
Here is a write up from one of our customers about a zucchini race at their local fair. Our MV Wheels/Axles were used for many of the cars in the race. If you know of any other unusual pinewood derby-like events, please let me know.

Truro, MA - You've heard of the Indy 500 over Memorial Day, but what about Truro's Zucchini 500 over Labor Day? Billed as The Greatest Spectacle in Vegetable Racing, the event took place on Sunday, September 2 at Sustainable CAPE's Truro Agricultural Fair in Truro Center.

Participants were encouraged to harvest (or buy locally) their own zucchinis and create their own race cars. There were ribbons awarded for the largest, smallest and best decorated and embellished zucchinis.

A limited number of axles, wheels & zucchinis were available for children who wished to create race cars on-site on a first-come, first-served basis. There were several groupings of racers: ages 5-7, 8-13, 14-18 and adult. Adults had to bring their own completed zucchini race cars as the supplies were donated for children.

"The Zucchini 500 helps make vegetables fun," explains Sustainable Cape's founder Francie Randolph. "Our primary aim is to link local food to physical health and sustainable environmental practices. The Truro Ag Fair, Children's Community Gardens and 4-H programs, our Farm-to-School initiatives and our new Zucchini 500 all work together to make fruits and vegetables the center of wonderful memories and experiences for kids and adults. Fruits and veggies then become something we all want more of."

In addition to the Zucchini 500, the Truro Ag Fair - whose tag line is "Till, Baby, Till!" - featured Turnip Bowling, Harvest Contests, Barnyard Beauty Contests for farm animals (with a Fava Bean voting booth), Pie-baking Contests and Pie-Eating Contests. A central Harvest Market offered local delicacies ranging from heirloom tomatoes to honey, fresh baked goods to oysters. Local restaurants grilled up regional fare. More can be found at

One Z-500 entry per participant only, personally delivered and registered by entrant. A zucchini must be the main part of the entry and may be decorated, carved, painted or embellished. Each entry must be self-propelled - no motors or additional assistance. The overall width including wheels should be no wider than 7 inches. Each entry (zucchini and wheels) will be weighed upon entry and raced with comparable entries of similar weight in their class.

The all new 25 foot racetrack was created and staffed with the assistance of MidCape Lumber, Bob Spitzler, Barnstable County 4-H, and Young & Fancy Signs. A former USDA official consulted on raceway design.

Loads of people have extra zucchinis at this time of year - why not race them and then make zucchini bread?!
MV Basic & Wedge Car Kits

If you are planning a race and are not required to use a specific kit type, our MV Basic or Wedge Car Kit are just what you need. These attractively priced kits are equipped with:
  • Quality Block - Unlike the blocks provided by some organizations, our blocks are soft, northwestern pine blocks, cut precisely to 7 inches long, 1-3/4 inches wide, and 1-1/4 inches tall. These dimensions, as well as the axle slots accurately duplicate the dimensions of standard pinewood derby blocks from BSA and PineCar.

  • Simple Axle Preparation - Don't worry about filing off flaws, or losing hub caps. Our Speed Axles have no burrs or crimp marks, and install without hub caps. With or without polishing, they are ready to go. We supply five, so you have a spare.

  • Quality Wheels - Forget cheap, out of round wheels. Our MV wheels are top-quality wheels. You will not be disappointed with the quality of these wheels.

So, if your organization does not mandate a particular kit type, consider our MV Basic Car Kits or MV Wedge Car Kits

Inventory Clearance Sale
We are clearing inventory on several items including car kits, car plan booklets, and pine blocks (plain, standard, and extended drilled). Click Here to find our clearance items. Don't miss out on the great prices.

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:

Feature Article

Streamlining the Weigh-in
By Randy Davis

(An update of an article originally published December 1, 2004)

Have you been to a weigh-in/check-in that seemed chaotic? Did there appear to be a lack of organization or control of the event? All too often little thought is put into the organization of the weigh-in, which leads to irritated participants, and stressed officials. Fortunately, steps can be taken to transform the chaos into a streamlined process.

In today's article I have provided information for race organizers to help the check-in flow smoothly. Of course, I have not exhausted this topic. If your organization has a smooth-running weigh-in, please e- mail your tips to me, and I will include them in a future newsletter.

In this article, I am assuming that the number of cars in the event will be reasonably large (greater than 50). If you have a smaller event, then some of the stations can be combined, and fewer officials will be required. However, all stations, equipment, and items mentioned in the article still need to be considered and accounted for.

To lay the groundwork for a smooth flowing weigh-in, two preliminary items are required. Don't set yourself up for failure by skipping these crucial items.
  1. One or more workshops - By having the official scale available at a workshop, many of the participants will be able to adjust the weight of their cars which will minimize the amount of adjustments that will need to be made at the weigh-in.

  2. Clear and complete rules - A good set of rules minimizes problems at the weigh-in. Unclear rules lead to confusion, arguments, and unnecessary stress on all involved. Make sure that all items specified in the rules will be inspected, and no inspection will occur for non- documented items.1

The Leader
Organization does not happen without preparation. If you want the weigh-in to go smoothly, then the event must be carefully planned, as should the race itself.

So who will do all this planning? Don't just ask for a volunteer, and certainly don't pick someone that has never experienced a pinewood derby! Instead, find someone that has good organizational skills. The person does not have to be an expert car builder, nor do they necessarily have to be a club official (unless your organization rules require it). But they do need to know how to plan, how to lead, and how to delegate.

Now that the leader has been identified, they need to get on with the planning. Good planning should include identifying the best foot- traffic flow, recruiting and training of weigh-in officials, acquisition of the needed materials, etc. Plans would include a sketch of a floor layout, a list of materials and a list of weigh-in jobs, and a time-schedule to make it happen.

One point on recruiting; don't make the mistake of recruiting too little help. The weigh-in leader should not plan to run a weigh-in station themselves. The leader will have enough to do with coordinating, answering questions, etc. If they run a station, that station will become a bottleneck.

Here is a list of required equipment. I am sure you can think of other items as well:
Here are the basic stations (in sequence order):
Trained workers will greatly streamline the weigh-in, so make sure each person knows what to do. Specifically:
Final Thoughts
A dad told me about his experience with their weigh-in. The child had done a lot of work on the car, and he was very proud of the result. However, they were novices and did not understand the importance of weight. At the weigh-in, their car weighed only 3.5 ounces. Without being asked, or given permission, the official took the car to the Weight Adjustment Station and proceeded to drill holes in the back of the car. The child was very upset and started crying as he watched the "destruction" of his masterpiece.

The moral of the story? The job of the inspection official is to verify that the car meets the specifications, not to correct problems. Any adjustments to a car (weight, lubrication, etc.) should be done by the owners, unless the owners need help and specifically give permission to the officials to render assistance. This policy helps reinforce that the owners are responsible for their own car, limits the risk of an official damaging a car, and minimizes the number of required weigh-in officials.4

As you plan your weigh-in this year, spend the time to organize it well. You will find that planning will streamline the event, making it more enjoyable for car owners and officials.

1See: Volume 11, Issue 1 - "Do's and Don't for Race Leaders".

2See our Car Go/No-go Gauge and Wheel Go/No-go Gauge.

3See the DerbyStop.

4More information on race official assistance can be found in Volume 10, Issue 10 - "Leader Help - How Much is Too Much?".


Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Preosllnay I tinhk its cmolpete nenosnese ...

Product Showcase

    --New-- Paint Stand: 10% Off --New--    

Here is a handy Paint Stand for working on your pinewood derby car. This quality-built stand securely holds your car for painting, allowing you to hold your car in any position. In addition, the Paint Stand:
Through November 13, 2012, you can get a Paint Stand for 10 percent off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, Click Here and use coupon code 13NOVNL on the final checkout page.

Car Showcase

Sheriff Cruiser - Matt Penza

The fastest car in our race was my sheriff's car. This is the exact car that I use on duty. Well a replica. I took photos of my sheriff's car and downloaded them onto the computer. After sizing the photos I made stickers out of them. The antennas are also the same on the real sheriff's car. As you can see I added a light bar after modifying it, a spotlight, and a push bar. This car weighed exactly 5 ounces. With your Awana Speed Wheels and axles, this car set a track record!!!

Swimming Pool - David Kenison

My son, who just crossed over to Boy Scouts, decided to make his last pinewood derby car to look like a swimming pool. He is on a swim team and last year he made an Award Car and the previous year was a Swimming Car. So it seemed appropriate to make a pool this year.

Jedi's Nightmare - Rodney Earp

Here is my son's 2012 car. It was designed, built and painted by him. It won 1st in the pack and 21st in the district. We found out that a pointed front end works okay if the track sensors are tabs. But at the district race, sensor lights were used. I have video showing the car not tripping the sensor till somewhere around the front wheel area.1 So, consider having a wider front end when you design a car next year. Oh, by the way, my son uses the Storm Trooper each year on his car. The Storm Trooper has done quite well using your lube, and other stuff from your site. Thanks for all you do for pinewood derby racing!

1For more information on this issue, please see: Volume 7, Issue 12 - "Is Your Finish Line Providing Accurate Results"

Share Your Car With Our Readers

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 this car:

For better focus, keep the camera four or five feet away from the car, and then use the camera's zoom to fill the frame with the car.

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!


Is there is a difference between using an aluminum, plastic or wood track? Why would a car perform better on one type of track than another?

Regarding tracks, there is a difference depending on the material and length.
After reading about liquid vs graphite lubes, it looks like liquid lube is easier overall, does not require as much time for application or careful "run-in", and may last more evenly through the course of the event. Our pack has said they think liquid lubes are too messy and give too much of an advantage. I don't believe this is the case. Everyone knows about liquid lubes (we publish speed hints to level the field), so it seems like it would be fair to allow liquid lubes. Your thoughts, and how would you convince our pack/district to allow liquid lubes?

I believe that if applied properly, a good liquid lube (such as Krytox 100) is cleaner, easier to use, and as fast, if not faster than graphite. The problem with liquids is that people tend to put on too much, so the liquid runs out of the bore. But if you put that much on, you will just be slowing down your car. When applied properly, a liquid lube should not be noticeable.

In our race we allow any lube, but all excess lube must be removed before the cars are turned in (this is in the rules). That includes graphite, oil, or anything else. The track fouling we see comes from excess graphite, not excess oil.

To convince the leadership to allow liquid lubes, you could explain that oils are cleaner than graphite but both types of lubes are messy if used improperly. The rules would need to be updated to clarify that overlubed cars would not compete.

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! All of the issues for Volume 5 through Volume 11 are posted on our web site and can be found using our Newsletter Index.

Issues from Volumes 1 to 4 are available in four formatted documents, ready for immediate download. To find out more, Click Here.

Newsletter Contributions

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Please read our submission policy.

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The Pinewood Derby Times is a free e-newsletter focused on the Pinewood Derby. It is published biweekly from October through March.

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Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times

Copyright ©2012, 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 .

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Pinewood Derby, and Space Derby are registered trademarks of Boys Scouts of America. All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

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