Pack 29 - Pinewood Derby 2012
Date: Sunday 1/22/2012, 4-8pm
Time: 4-5pm Register & Weigh in your cars, 6pm Race Starts
District Derby Rules - you must abide by these also if you plan on racing at the District Event
Don't forget to bring your family cars too (which means any kind of car you can dream up, as long as it does not exceed the width and length requirements in the rules)! There will be food, drinks, and lots of fun.
What's Pinewood Derby:
The pinewood derby is a racing event for Cub Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America. Cub Scouts, with the help of parents, build their own cars from wood, usually from kits containing a block of pine, plastic wheels and metal axles. With the popularity of the pinewood derby, other organizations have developed similar events, and a small industry has developed to provide tracks, timers, scales and other products. The pinewood derby was selected as part of "America's 100 Best" in 2006 as "a celebrated rite of spring" by Reader's Digest. Similar Cub Scouting events include the raingutter regatta with boats and the space derby using rubber band powered rockets.
Cubmaster Don Murphy organized the first pinewood derby, held on May 15, 1953 in Manhattan Beach, California by Pack 280c. Murphy's son was too young to participate in the popular Soap Box Derby races, so he came up with the idea of racing miniature wood cars. The cars had the same gravity-powered concept as the full-size Soap Box Derby cars, but were much smaller and easier to build. After Don Murphy's first race in 1953 the Los Angeles County Department of Recreation copied the pinewood derby with Murphy's permission.
In the 1980s, the design of the block was changed from a cutout block, consistent with a 1940's style front-engined Indy 500 car, to a solid block. The tires were also changed from narrow, hard plastic, to wider "slicks".
Blocks can be whittled with a hand knife or a band saw or Dremel carving tool for major shaping. Decals can be bought at scout shops or hobby shops. It is also possible to use standard model decals to replicate actual racing cars such as Richard Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird, shown at right. The original style is based on open wheel cars, however, fender or body kits are available, or wheels can simply be placed outboard of the body.
Other than the previous basic design rules, the Cub Scout is able to carve and decorate the car as he chooses. Many Cub Scouts also add weights to the final design to bring the car to the maximum allowable weight; coins, glue-in lead pieces, and melted lead are common ways to add weight. Cars typically vary from unfinished blocks to whimsical objects, to accurate replicas of actual cars. The fastest cars tend to resemble low doorstops, with weight at the rear. Graphite is usually the only lubricant allowed, and it often helps to polish the provided nails.
The idea behind the pinewood derby is for the parent, usually the father, but occasionally the mother or grandparent, to spend time helping the child design, carve, paint, add weights, and tune the final car. However, it is often the case that the parent takes over the construction of the car, an aspect of the event that was lampooned in the 2005 film Down and Derby, and also in a 2009 episode of "South Park". The quest for a fast car supports a cottage industry that supplies modified wheels, axles, and blocks as well as videos and instruction books. While a pinewood derby car kit costs around $5 (at your scout store or Amazon), a set of modified wheels and axles can sell for more than ten times that amount. These aftermarket items are legal under some Pack rules since the parts originally came from an official BSA kit. Complete cars can be purchased on Amazon or Ebay.com and elsewhere for around $100 to $200. Although these cars violate the spirit of the event, if not the rules, enforcement can be difficult.
Buy your basic Pinewood Derby car at the next pack meeting for $5, the kit is also available at all the scouting stores and online. Basic Pinewood Derby Kit on Amazon, Pinewood Derby Accessories.
5 Keys things to make your Derby car Faster:
Use this fun tool to design your Pinewood Derby car:
Individual Pinewood Derby Car Template Designs:
You can find individual car templates at the bottom of this page, download the template you like and cut it out.