Pinewood Derby

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The Pinewood Derby has been drawing Cub Scouts together for a day of competition since 1953. The noble goal of the derby is to foster a stronger relationship between the Cub Scout and his parent by working together to create a personalized, custom, one-of-a-kind car from a basic BSA kit. It is hoped that a scout feels pride in his work, enjoys the competition of racing against other scouts, and demonstrates good sportsmanship whether he wins or not.

Pinewood Truths
I've been through 6 years of Pinewood Derbies with my sons. The first year was a rude awakening to the reality of Pinewood Derbies. These are the few truths I discovered:

After the first derby, I sat down with my sons and we talked about the various levels of craftmanship and speed we had seen. They decided that next year they would try to win the Most Creative award instead of the Fastest Car because the scouts all voted on the Most Creative. They recognized that some scouts did very little work on their car because the scouts told them. They also didn't care about not being fastest. They were already talking about cool designs for next year and asking me if I would do the sawing again - that's all I ever did on their cars. Every year, I also made my own car on which I could demonstrate my creative abilities.

I believe the Pinewood Derby is a wonderful opportunity for a son and parent to have a great time working with wood, learning about friction and gravity, being creative, and just having an excellent time together. As long as the parent emphasizes that they are participating together and does not take over the project, the derby is great. I think the team needs to set a few goals and guidelines before the derby car kit is even opened:

While my scouts were not too concerned about speed, I was very interested. Some of those cars just flew down the track and I wanted to know how. After hours of research, I learned all the tricks for a fast car and I learned the Pinewood Derby is Big Business with a myriad selection of tools, templates, plans, and designs for a dad to purchase in an effort to help his scout bring home a trophy. I decided to try some of the free speed tricks myself - I won the pack's adult competition. The following tips tell you the most important pinewood derby car design concepts. Doing just the first few will make a huge impact on your performance.

Pinewood Derby Car Design Tips

These tips are in order of the most important first. If you have wheels as smooth as glass on axles that are misaligned, it will do no good.These are all modifications scouts with adult help can make on their standard kit. There are also many different tools available to help with the more advanced tasks such as polishing axles. And, it's even possible to just purchase pre-polished axles and wheels.

Design Modifications

In a bid to make superfast cars, some folks have modified the design in ways that are often outside the rulebook. These modifications also tend to be outside the skill level of a cub scout. I don't recommend doing these unless you have an unlimited category for adults.

For many Pinewood Resources, check out my Pinewood Links page.

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