Pinewood Derby Times Volume 11, Issue 14

– Editor’s Notes
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Q&A

Editor’s Notes:

Last Issue of the Season
This is the last issue of the Pinewood Derby Times for the 2011-2012 season. Instead of including a Feature Article, this edition contains an expanded Car Showcase.

The new issues (Volume 12) will begin in early October 2012. You will automatically continue to receive the newsletter in the fall, as our mailing list will remain intact. If your e-mail address should change before then, from the NEW e-mail account simply send a blank e- mail to:

with your OLD e-mail address in the ‘Subject:’ line.

We have most of the articles planned for next season, but we are always looking for your input. So if you have an idea for an article, please send it to me at:

I would like to thank all of our readers and contributors. Your input is greatly appreciated and certainly contributes to the success of the newsletter. I wish you all a blessed summer. See you in October.

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

SoCal Coupe – Nathan Paul

I built this car the SoCal Coupe because I always liked the look of the car. The finished product was okay; I just need to work on the smaller wood items next time (front struts and axle mounts). They were a little tricky to keep from cracking when installing the axles and the brass starting rod on the front of the car. I didn’t race this one on race day but did put it through some runs on testing day and it did okay.

Nimbus 2000 – Bob Hodgeman

My son Sam, a Bear this year, is a voracious reader. He recently finished the Harry Potter series, and his mom voiced the idea of making a Harry Potter themed derby car this year. Thus, the idea behind the Nimbus 2000 was born! We drilled a hole in the back for lead wire, I did the rough cuts on the scroll saw, and he did the rest with a Dremel. He picked a shade of polyurethane stain that worked well, and we pulled bristles out of some glue brushes I had in the tool box for the broom bristles, which are attached with rubber cement. For finishing touches, we wrapped gold thread (tacked in place with super glue) around the bristles and used hot glue to attach Harry. I surprised him a couple of days before the derby with my hand-painted “Nimbus 2000” logos, painted with a super fine artist brush with about 2/3 of the bristles removed. He was absolutely thrilled with that small detail! While the car didn’t finish at the top of the standings, he was just as happy with his “Cub’s Choice” design award!

Semi Cab – Bob Hodgeman

My son Jacob, now a Tenderfoot Boy Scout, built this car for our pack’s Outlaw Division, so he was able to go with an extended wheelbase. The original block was supplemented with another partial block on top to form the cab, as well as 3/8 inch basswood sides to fill out the cab and form the fenders. Jacob did everything, from the rough cutting on the scroll saw, to working with the Dremel, to the paint job (I did help with the masking). From concept to finish, this one is absolutely HIS car (a fact that he’s rightly very proud of). A neighbor with a vinyl cutter supplied the Autobot logo. Next up, he wants to build the matching trailer and add starting-gate-activated sound & lights!

The Outlaw – Tim Schneider

My goal for this car was to make an extended wheelbase car, with front and rear airfoil shapes (teardrops). I found the wood to be too thin in the middle, so two carbon fiber rods were used to help reduce body flex. The car was wrapped with 3M Damping Tape. This gave the body a brushed metallic appearance, and additional strength/vibration damping ability.

Outlaw Orange – Chris Kostik

I raced this outlaw car to 1st place in the adult unlimited division! The competition continues to get faster and faster in this division every year. I have already begun work on prototypes for next year’s race!

’32 Deuce Coupe – Michael Pecora

My ’32 Deuce Coupe was built for my pack’s open race. It was built for show, not speed.

Fireball – Ed Mujica

I got the idea for this car from the cartoon “Wacky Racers.” Peter Perfect drives the Turbo Terrific and it looks a little like the car I built. I didn’t race the car this year, but it still was pretty fast. I wanted to let you know that you’re a good teacher! We put these dry transfer decals on the car and it turned out great. We like these much more than stickers. My son was very pleased with the way the car turned out.

Cub Cadet Lawnmower – Mike Webb

This lawnmower derby car was built for a CaseIH dealer who I used to work for. It was used in a business race that is held during the cub scout derby. The hood and mower deck are made of balsa wood. The steering wheel is actually a BSA wheel that I cut the tread off and used an axle to hold it. The seat is a small piece of scrap pine from the car, as are the fenders. The hood has a small hinge on the front of it from the hardware store and the motor was from a derby accessory kit that I had. The logos were made from ink jet decals. It weighs exactly 5 ounces. The mower actually took 2nd place in the races and was very popular because of the unusual design.

1960 Indy Car – Doug Henthorn

This was the last car my son Cole built for his pinewood derby. It is modeled after the 1960’s Indy cars. Brass screen was used for the grille, and a stainless steel rod was used for the roll bar. The car placed first in the Webelos and was the fastest car overall. It also won “Best of Show” for the pack.


Our pack has an older wooden track; not sure but it probably is not very smooth. Would there be any speed benefit to rail-riding on a rougher wooden track?

We have a wooden track that I have successfully ran with rail-rider cars. However, for a wooden track, it is reasonably smooth. The concern is the quality of the guide rail and the joints between the track sections. If the guide rail is rough and/or the transitions are bad, then rail-riding is probably not the way to go. But if the rail is reasonably smooth and the transitions are okay, then I would recommend rail-riding.

Would bending an axle with a Pro-Rail Rider tool scratch the polished axle?

The contact point of the Pro-Rail Rider tool is right at the bend point. So scratching shouldn’t occur. However, the tool is shipped with a piece of paper than you can lay over the axle shaft for protection.

I ordered and received the Triton T2 Digital Compact Scale from you about a month ago. I would like to use this for our derby in March. Would you recommend that I purchase the 5 ounce test weight or the 200 gram calibration weight?

The 5 ounce weight would be used to prove the accuracy of the scale if there is a question at the weigh-in. If someone says that the scale is inaccurate, you pull out the 5 ounce weight, set in on the scale, and show them that the scale is accurate. The 5 ounce weight has no other purpose.

The 200 gram weight is used to calibrate the scale. The scales are pre-calibrated, but they can drift depending on temperature, usage, etc. With the 200 gram weight, you can re-calibrate at any time. Once you recalibrate, the 5 ounce weight would weigh as 5.000 ounces on the Triton T2 scale.

Want Answers?
Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, e-mail us your question.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 17 are posted on our web site.

Newsletter Contributions
We welcome your contributions. If you would like to contribute an article, a web site review, a speed tip, or a pinewood derby memory, please e-mail us.

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Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times

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