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Pinewood Derby

Version 2

Date: Friday & Saturday, January 24-25, 2020


  • Friday (Check-In) – 6:00 – 8:00pm
  • Saturday (Derby) – 7:00am – 4:00pm

Location: St. Isidore Church Basement

Cost:  FREE

2020 Pack 39 Pinewood Derby Rules – Click Here to Download


The first Pinewood Derby® was held in 1953 by Cub Scout Pack 280C of Manhattan Beach, California, operated by the North American Aviation Management Club. It was the brainchild of Cubmaster Donald Murphy. The derby, publicized in Boys’ Life in October 1954, was an instant and enduring hit. The magazine offered plans for the track and car, which featured “four wheels, four nails, and three blocks of wood.”
The rules of the very first race stated: “The Derby is run in heats – two to four cars starting by gravity from a standstill on a track and run down a ramp to a finish line unaided. The track is an inclined ramp with wood strips down the center to guide the cars.” The cars still roll that way today.


Scouts will receive their car kits during the December pack meeting.

Make sure you have the current years official rules before you start working on your car.

Help Working On Your Car

Bob’s Woodworking, aka Wooden Toys & Crafts – 655 Farm Road, Marlborough, MA 01752 (behind the Creamery)

For a few bucks per kid, Bob will cut out the car design on a band saw, provide some sandpaper and paints. You will still need to get your cars up to the maximum allowable weight. This can also be done using weights, a scale and various tools to drill and glue/fasten/stick weight to the cars.


Supplies for your Pinewood Derby Cars:


Pinewood Derby Tips For Cub Scouts

When building your Pinewood Derby car remember you are designing the car for speed! The two most critical things when designing your car is:

  • weight
  • minimal friction on the wheels when they spin.

The following are some tips to help you get started. There are many ways to build a Pinewood Derby car so you must find the way that works best for you. Talk to other Cubs in the Pack and find out what they think makes up a fast car. Take your time and start your car early so you have time to finish before the Derby. Good Luck and may the fastest car win!

  • Design – You should design your car before you start assembling it. Draw a picture of the shape you would like it to be. Keep your design simple and keep in mind the rules, regulations and guidelines.
  • Body Construction – If your design calls for cutting away much of the block use a saw first, then a jackknife or other tools. Use different grades of sandpaper (coarse, medium, and fine) to finish and smooth the body. The center of the nose of the car should be broad enough so it does not slip the dowel-starting pin. To accommodate the starting pin the nose of the car should not be beveled upwards. The front of the car is the end with the wheel slot farthest from the end.
  • Wheel Assembly – Remove burrs on the nail axles with sandpaper or emery cloth. Make it easy by fitting the nail points into an electric drill and holding the sandpaper or emery cloth against the nail while it is rotating in the drill. Sand the mold seam on the wheels making them smooth. Smooth axles and wheels make a fast car!
  • Wheel Clearance – To ensure clearance over the guide strip, the minimum inside clearance between the wheels must be greater then 1¾ inches and the car must be a minimum of 3/8 inches from the bottom of the body to the bottom of the wheels.
  • Paint and Body Finish – Paint all your body parts prior to assembly and avoid getting paint on axles or wheels. For the best finish (but not necessary), seal the wood body with sanding sealer and then use several light coats of spray paint making sure the paint dries between coats. If you wish not to use spray paint any paint will do.
  • Weight – Your car can not exceed 5 ounces! Your car weighs about 2 to 3 ounces out of the box prior to you assembling it. To make your car fast you want to be as close to the 5-ounce limit as possible. You will have to add weight to make it close to 5 ounces.
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