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Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 13, Issue 2
October 16, 2013

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Rules - Post Them and Follow Them

- Humor

- Product Showcase - Pro Stainless Axles

- Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

- Q&A

Editor's Notes
New Stainless Steel Axles
Maximum Velocity is now offering what may be the fastest axles available today. New from DerbyWorx, Pro Stainless Steel axles are CNC machined for top performance. They are equipped with a two-step, straight, round, and smooth shaft, and a slightly tapered head to reduce wheel-to-axle contact. Both grooved and non-grooved axles are available.

The two-step axle shaft includes an oversized section (where the wheel rides) to minimize wheel wobble, and a standard diameter section for easy block mounting.

Click Here for more information on the new Pro Stainless Steel axles. These axles are also the newsletter special.

Inventory Clearance Sale
We also are clearing inventory on several items including our Propeller Car Kit II, the Assimilator Kit (with a tungsten canopy), plastic car canopies, and paint markers. We don't have many left, so don't delay. Click Here to find our clearance items.
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

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:

Main Pinewood Derby Site -
Mobile Pinewood Derby Site -

Feature Article

Rules - Post Them and Follow Them
By Randy Davis

If you have been a subscriber for any length of time you know by now that I am a stickler for having a well documented set of rules for each race, and providing those rules to every race participant when the kits are distributed (or when the race is announced). I am regularly reminded of the need for adherence to this policy by e-mail, such as this one from Brian Masek:

"When we arrived at our district race, we were shocked by a paper with a sudden rule change. The paper stated:

'All 2013 Pinewood Derby cars MUST have all FOUR wheels touch the track to be considered LEGAL!! The rule was mistakenly omitted from the rules posted on the (name omitted) Council web site and is hereby corrected'.

It wasn't nice to learn this surprise at our district pinewood last weekend; especially after we built a raised wheel rail-rider. The guy in charge pointed at a box of tools and suggested that we just bend the axle down right there so my son could still race. My son wanted to try to fix the car so we went home, broke the axles out of the epoxy, band sawed the slot clean and remounted the wheels using paper strips as a wedge (since the slots were a little too big after the band saw). We got them aligned, still rail-riding with the fourth wheel just barely touching. We ended up in fourth place, which honestly, is better than I thought we would have done. I'm glad we went to the early check in the night before.

Holy cow -- post the rules in advance. I talked to the committee chair, and he was cool and admitted his fault, but others on his team were arguing with me that the rules posted in advance meant nothing and all that mattered was what they were enforcing at check-in. Can you believe it? We don't run our race this way. If we don't state a rule in advance in writing, we will not enforce it." (Brian's son's car is included in the Car Showcase).

Holy cow is right. The rules posted in advance don't matter?! That is like the police saying: "We won't tell you what the traffic rules are until we pull you over and give you a ticket. Then you will find out how you should drive."

Of course the rules matter and need to be enforced as posted/distributed. If something is omitted, then fix it for next year.

Okay, let me know get off my soapbox. Obviously, I can't change all of the inequities in the pinewood derby world, but one thing I can do is make a plea for diligence in setting and enforcing the rules for your race.

Eleven years ago I posted a sample rule set, so I think it is time to post it again to help those groups that don't have a thorough set of rules.

First, I have provided some preliminary thoughts on race rules, and then have provided basic rules with some choices. The intent is that your group will select the preferred choices, and eliminate the alternatives. Also, information [in brackets] may need to be customized for your organization.

District Rules

If your group will participate in a district or council/conference race, before adopting a rule set check the rules for that event. Make sure your rules are in harmony with the parent organization rules.


The race rules must be complete. Thus, the rules should specify all car dimensions (maximum height, maximum overall width, minimum distance between the left and right wheels, maximum length, bottom clearance, wheel base); and allowed/disallowed wheel treatments, axle treatments, accessories, and weighting methods.


If the intent of your rules is to ban specific design techniques, then the rules must specifically do so. If the rules do not specifically ban a particular technique, then entries using that technique should be allowed to participate. For example, consider the following rules:

  1. A light sanding to remove flaws is allowed as long as the wheel retains the original width, diameter, and shape.

  2. The wheels may be lightly sanded.
Rule 1 is more specific as to what can be done with the wheels. A car with narrowed wheels would clearly be disqualified from a race using this rule.

On the other hand, rule 2 is ambiguous and could lead to problems. A car with narrowed wheels should be allowed to participate, since the rule does not disallow narrow wheels.

Entry Qualifications
  1. All cars must be built from the official [enter name of club or organization] kit.

  2. Each car must be newly built for the race. Cars previously entered in a race cannot be used.

  3. Each club member may enter one car.

Car Specifications
  1. The maximum total weight of a car cannot exceed [five (5)] ounces. When weighed on the official scale the car must register no more than [five ounces] for a period of not less than 5 seconds.

  2. The car dimensions are:



  3. The entire car must stage behind the starting pin.

  4. Weight and decorative accessories may be added to the car, but will be included as part of the car for all measurements.

  5. All weight and accessories must be securely fastened to the car, and fixed in place. Wheels are the only allowable moving part on the car.

  6. The car must be powered by gravity alone. Thus, weights and accessories may not actively contribute to the movement of the car.


Choose one of the following three options. The first requires the use of the original slots. The second allows new slots to be created, or holes to drilled, but the wheel base must be maintained. The third allows extended wheel bases.

The axles must be placed in the original axle slots on the car body. The axle slots must retain the original wheel base measurement of [fill in measurement].
New axle slots or holes may be created, but the original wheel base measurement of [fill in measurement] must be maintained.
The axles may be mounted on the car as desired as long as all car specifications are met.
Wheels and Axles
  1. The wheels and axles supplied with the official kit must be used as follows:

Choose one of the following two options
Wheels may be lightly sanded and polished, but must retain the original shape (diameter, width, profile, and geometry).
Wheels may be modified as desired, but must be readily identifiable as the official wheels.
(Choose one of the following two options, or write your own rule)
Axle flaws may be removed and the axle shaft may be polished. The axle head may be beveled on the inside to reduce contact with the wheel. No other modifications are allowed.
Axles may be modified as desired, but must be readily identifiable as the official axles.
(Choose one of the following two options)
All four wheels must contact the ground. Raised wheels are not allowed.
All four wheels must be present on the car but not all of the wheels need to contact the track surface.

Choose one of the following three options
Any lubricant may be used, but it must be dry at the time of inspection. All excess lubrication must be removed before inspection.
Only dry (powdered) lubricants are permitted. All excess lubrication must be removed before inspection.
Only [fill in lubricant type] is allowed as a lubricant. All excess lubrication must be removed before inspection.
Check-in and Inspection
  1. All cars must be brought to the official check-in for inspection [option: by the club member]. Any car arriving after the check-in period will not be allowed to race.

  2. Cars must pass the official inspection using the official scale and measurement devices. If a car fails the inspection, it may be corrected and re-inspected. [optional: The start of the race will not be delayed due to rework on a car that failed inspection.]

  3. After a car passes inspection, it will be impounded. Once impounded the car cannot be modified or lubricated.

  4. ll decisions by the race check-in officials are final and binding.

Car Handling

Choose one of the following two options. The former is preferred except in the case of very young children.
Each club member is responsible to place their car at the starting line and to retrieve their car at the finish line. If a club member leaves the race area and does not arrive back in time to stage their car for a heat, the car will automatically lose the heat. If the club member is physically unable to perform these tasks, a substitute may be selected to perform these duties. The substitute should be of approximately the same age as the entrant.
Race officials will place each car at the starting line and retrieve each car at the finish line.
Race Heat Anomalies
  1. If a car leaves its lane, and the race officials determine that a fault in the track or starting mechanism caused the incident, the heat will be rerun after the fault is repaired.

  2. If a car leaves its lane, and the race officials determine that a fault in the track or starting mechanism did not cause the incident, then:

  3. If no car reaches the finish line, the finishing places will be determined by the distance traveled by each car in its own lane.

  4. If a wheel falls off during a race, the car may be repaired by the car owner. The repair must be completed within the longer of (a) five minutes, or (b) the start of the next heat in which the car will run. At the discretion of the race official, additional help may be provided to the owner of the car.

  5. If a car part (other than a wheel) falls off during a race, the part cannot be replaced on the car.

  6. Any appeals or rule questions must be promptly brought to the attention of the race officials.


Good rules help to make for a successful pinewood derby race. So whether you choose to use these rules as a starting point, or whether you write them yourself, make sure that you have a rule set that is complete and specific.


Jim had an awful day fishing on the lake, sitting in the blazing sun all day without catching a single one. On his way home, he stopped at the supermarket and ordered four catfish. He told the fish salesman, "Pick four large ones out and throw them at me, will you?"

"Why do you want me to throw them at you?"

"Because I want to tell my wife that I caught them."

"Okay, but I suggest that you take the salmon."

"But why?"

"Because your wife came in earlier today and said that if you came by, I should tell you to take salmon. She prefers that for supper tonight."

Product Showcase

  Pro Stainless Steel Axles  
10% off

Pro Stainless Steel Axles are CNC machined axles formed to resemble Cub Scout axles, but with a two-step shaft for a good fit with axle slots or holes, and an excellent fit with the wheel. The axles have a tapered head, no burrs and crimps marks, and are made from a high quality stainless steel for increased strength, and reduced friction. Both grooved and non-grooved versions are available. These axles are ready to enhance performance when used with Cub Scout/BSA, PineCar, Awana, MV, and other wheels.

Through October 29, 2013, you can get a set of Pro Stainless Steel Axles for 10 percent off. To take advantage of this limited time offer: Click Here, and use your choice of one these coupon codes during checkout: 4051NL or 4052NL

Make sure the coupon code matches the set of axles you are ordering.

Car Showcase

Sponge Fun - Brian & Grant Masek

This was the car that I told you about that they wouldn't check in since it didn't have all four wheels on the ground. We took the car home that night, pulled the front end apart, and cut new axle slots through the epoxy with a band saw. We wedged the axles back in with paper shims and re-glued so that all four wheels touched the ground. The car took 3rd in our pack and 4th in the district.

Formula One - Brian Masek

This Formula One was from your plans. I made it just for fun since it looked like a cool design.

Purple People Eater - Ardie T.

Attached is my 2012 adult class derby car winner. As the name applies, it just about ate up the competition. The tail wing was made from a piece off of the main block. Just so happened, it fit perfectly. I looked at it and said, "Yeah, this will be cool". With some help from your axles and wheels, and a bit of polishing of the axles, it was a true winner.

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!


Can I use your epoxy on my axles after I have inserted them?

You can use epoxy to lock the axles in place, however, if you do so you will not easily be able to remove them. Instead, I recommend using white glue (Elmers, etc). The white glue will hold them in place, but if you ever need to remove them, you can do so by grasping the axle head and rotating. This will break the glue bond and allow you to pull them out.

Our rules say that axles will be checked (axles must be attracted by the magnet). Can you tell me which of your axles are attracted by a magnet?

These axles are attracted to a magnet:
These axles are not attracted to a magnet:
Do You Have Questions that Need Answers?
Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, send your question to: info.maximum-velocity@com. 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 13 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.

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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 ©2013, 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.

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