Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 13, Issue 6
December 11, 2013

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Handle Those Cars Carefully

- Humor

- Product Showcase - DerbyDome - $1.00 Off

- Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

- Q&A

Editor's Notes
Merry Christmas
Since Christmas falls on a Wednesday, the next issue of the newsletter will be issued on 12/26. I hope you have a blessed Christmas.

Help, We Need Your Car Photos
We are out of cars for the Showcase section of this newsletter. So, please send in your photos. Include your full name, the name of the car, and a paragraph describing the car.

Photos should be 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.

A solid, contrasting background color is best. Usually, best focus is obtained by stepping back several feet from the car and zooming in.

Send only one photo per car, unless an additional photo is needed to adequately show a feature. Thanks.

Inventory Clearance Sale
We are clearing inventory on several items including our Propeller Car Kit II, the Assimilator Kit (with a tungsten canopy), 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 -
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Feature Article

Handle Those Cars Carefully
By Randy Davis

Sometimes I receive an e-mail that fills me with sympathy and some anger. Here is one of those e-mails from Scott Carpenter:

"This was the result of an accidental drop after a small child got hold of the car. We had another car get broken in the same race. Needless to say we will no longer race with a group that does not impose car handling guidelines."

Photo 1 - Scott Carpenter's Car

Ouch. Clearly, this car didn't have much structure and needed to be carefully handled. But regardless, the real question is why was a small child allowed access to the car?

I believe that the race officials are responsible for safeguarding cars that have been checked-in. This safeguarding is not only to prevent damage to the cars, but also to prevent tampering with the cars by the car owner or by competitors. Therefore, after a car is checked-in, it may only be handled for the following reason:
  1. A race official may place a car onto the check-in/staging table.

  2. A race official may verify a car's registration number if needed.

  3. A race official may place a car into storage (if the race is at a later date than the check-in).

  4. A car owner may stage the car (or a race official, depending on the race rules).

  5. A car owner may retrieve the car and put it back on to the staging table (or a race official, depending on the race rules).

  6. Under supervision of a race official, a car owner may repair a car (race rules should specify what repairs are allowed).

  7. No other person may touch a checked-in car.

If these guidelines are followed, then mishaps such as Scott Carpenter's should never happen. However, there are many other factors that race officials need to address in order to minimize car damage and to prevent unauthorized access to cars. Let's look at each stage of the race event and address car handling for each one.

Car Staging Equipment
First, race officials must provide a way for cars to be safely held on a staging table. Years ago, before any commercial solutions were available, we taped 1x2 inch boards lengthwise on the staging tables. The cars would then straddle the board, which kept them from rolling. Although a bit crude, this solution did secure the cars. I have seen photos of other simple solutions, as well as more elegant solutions, such as table-sized trays with slots for each car.

But if you don't want to make your own solution, now there are commercially available solutions that work quite well. One solution is the DerbyStop, which is an inexpensive solution available at many pinewood derby sites.1 The DerbyStop is basically a large sheet of card stock that is creased so that one pair of wheels is immobilized. Although the DerbyStop seems too simple to work, it is actually very effective at immobilizing cars.

Photo 2 - DerbyStop

Another solution is the "Car Staging Parking Lot" from Lisano Enterprises.2 The parking lots have a raised cushion to keep the wheels elevated. We use these parking lots at our race as they can be lifted and slipped into our storage cabinet while fully loaded.

Photo 3 - Car Parking Lot

Now that there is a way to immobilize checked-in cars, let's consider area security. Pinewood derby cars are an attraction and people will naturally want to look and touch. So, race officials must establish a perimeter to keep unauthorized people away from the cars. I believe you do want people to be able to see the cars, but not allow them to touch the cars.

At our check-in, we use a line of tables as the perimeter. These tables are used as a work area for checking in the cars, and the staging tables are located behind the perimeter tables. Only race officials are allowed behind the perimeter tables.

Photo 4 - Our Check-in Area
(The corners of the perimeter tables are shown in the foreground.)

Another common way to limit access to the staging tables is with barrier tape (see "Race Day" for photos of barrier tape in use). However, with any method, you must have a person assigned to watch the staging tables to make sure unauthorized people do not gain access by going around, over, or under the perimeter barrier. It's amazing the number of people that think that barriers do not apply to them.

If your race is held immediately after check-in, then you do not need to store the cars. But if your race is held on a day following the check-in, then a safe and secure storage method needs to be in place. We have a purpose built cabinet that was made to fit the parking lots. The cabinet is on wheels, has locked doors, and is rolled into a locked closet.

Photo 5 - Our Storage Cabinet

For even more security, we place a seal (actually a sticker name tag) across the doors. The name tag is signed by the club leader and me. If the cabinet is tampered with before it is officially opened on race night, then the tampering will be evident. This process may seem excessive to you, but if a parent ever asks how we ensure that no tampering occurs while the cars are stored, we are ready with a good answer.

Photo 6 - Security Seal

Race Day
On race day, the cars are secured on the staging tables, the perimeter is secure, and an official is watching the cars. All cables are secured with gaffer's tape so that they are not a trip hazard. All cables that run the length of the track are on one side of the track, and all walking is done on the other side of the track.

Photo 7 - Use of Barrier Tape Around Race Area

Photo 8 - All Cabling on Left Side of Track, Traffic on Right Side
(Small table near track on right side is removed before the race)

Owner Staged Cars
If the race format has the car owners stage and retrieve their own cars, then all you have to do is supervise the staging table, starting line, and finish line to make sure the owners are only handling their cars. The rest is up to the owners.

Official Staged Cars
However, if your race format is for the race officials to stage and retrieve the cars, then some additional procedures must be in place.3 First two rules must be established:
  1. A race official never holds more than one car in each hand.

  2. A car is always held in the body area between the front and rear wheels. It is never held by the wheels or by the front or rear of the car.

These two rules greatly reduce the risk of dropping or damaging a car.

Now, it is just a simple matter of procedure. I will outline what we do; you can use this as a model, or modify it as needed.

Starting Line
We use three officials at the starting line. The first official pulls the cars for the next heat (two cars at a time), and places them on a parking lot near the starting gate. The other two officials place the cars (two per official) onto our four-lane track. One of the officials then triggers the starting gate.4 We have found that having a third official pull the cars for the next heat while the current heat is being run greatly speeds up the event.

I have seen some races where a carrier box is used to bring all of the cars to the starting gate at one time.5 This method can work well but it tends to be a little slower for staging heats. If you do use a carrier box, make sure the box immobilizes the cars so that they do not roll and do not bump into each other.

Finish line
We place two additional officials (usually responsible teens - this job involves a lot of squatting and can be tough on us older folks!) at the finish line to retrieve the cars. When the cars pass through the finish line, each official picks up two cars (one in each hand), brings the cars back to the staging table, and places them in their proper position. Admittedly, this job could be done by one official with a four-car carrier box.

Car safety and security should be foremost in the mind of race officials. People put blood, sweat, and tears (and money) into their cars and they have a right to expect that their cars will be treated with care. So, take the time to review your car handling procedures to make sure you are treating the cars with the care they deserve.

1 Available from Maximum Velocity at:

2Available from Lisano Enterprises at:

3 At our pinewood derby, we have five races: pre-school to kindergarten, first and second grade, third and fourth grade, fifth and sixth grade, and an outlaw race. The race officials stage and retrieve the cars for the first three races, and the car owners stage and retrieve the final two races.

4 The gate is triggered after first getting a "nod" from the person running the computer, and after verifying that the people retrieving the cars are in place and squatting down.

5 I am not a fan of carrier boxes as even a slight trip or misstep could result in cars flying out of the box. If one car is held in each hand, the person is more balanced and better able to recover from a misstep. But this is just my opinion.


A little girl is sitting on her grandpa's lap and studying the wrinkles on his old face. She gets up the nerve to rub her fingers over the wrinkles. Then she touches her own face and looks more puzzled. Finally the little girl asks, "Grandpa, did God make you?"

"He sure did honey, a long time ago," replies her grandpa.

"Well, did God make me?" asks the little girl.

"Yes, He did, and that wasn't too long ago," answers her grandpa.

"Boy," says the little girl, "He's sure doing a lot better job these days isn't He?"

Product Showcase

$1.00 off

Preserve Your Pinewood Derby Memory!

The DerbyDome is a high-quality case for safely displaying pinewood derby cars. It uses a patent-pending mounting system to keep the cars in place. The DerbyDome works with standard wheelbase cars (BSA and PineCar) with unmodified wheels. A custom label is available from the manufacturer.

Through December 25, 2013, you can get a DerbyDome for $1.00 off. To take advantage of this limited time offer: Click Here, and use coupon code DERBYDOME during checkout.

Car Showcase

Shooting Star - Don Fish

This pinewood derby car was built by my son Nick for his Tiger derby. He loves Speed Racer, so we did our interpretation of Racer X's Shooting Star. It won the den race, took third place in the pack and fourth place at district. The car has highly polished and notched axles, a raised front wheel, the center of gravity just in front of the rear axles, four wheel alignment with polishing, and of course Racer X and his rear engine V8!

Hot Rod Muscle Car - Jason Villarreal

A friend of mine wanted a fast, muscle looking car. So I cut out a design of what would be a hatchback. I started with a thin bottom plate and added the sides and top (so the car is hollow). The car took 1st for the age group, and 2nd overall. It also took 1st in the design category.

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 really much difference between the Max-V-Lube graphite and Krytox 100 oil?

With loose fitting axles (like the BSA axles, and the 4094 clone axles), graphite will generally work better. As you work in the graphite, it builds a coating on the bore of the wheel, reducing the diameter. This tightens up the slop, resulting in better speed. Just make sure to thoroughly work in the graphite, adding, spinning, adding spinning, etc.

Krytox 100 works better than graphite when using precision fitting axles, such as our new stainless steel axles and super speed axles. It also works best for all of the outlaw wheels/axles. In addition, Krytox 100 works well for Awana wheels and axles.

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

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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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