Pinewood Derby-01
Posted On: 2009-01-02

The Pinewood Derby is probably the most universally popular and successful family project in Cub Scouting. Like all success stories, the Pinewood Derby requires planning and work by the pack committee and other parents but its value in fun and close family relationships has been proven over many years. A Pinewood Derby can be successful as a District or Council activity, also.

Pinewood Derby cars are simply small models of specified dimensions, created and carved by boys, under the guidance of parents, and raced by the Cub Scouts. They are gravity powered and run down a regulation track. The derby is run in heats, with cars starting from a standstill and running unaided down the ramp to the finish line. A wooden strip placed down the center of each lane guides the cars.

Each pack sets their own rules for the race. If there is a District or Council Pinewood Derby race it would be wise to use the same rules set for that race.



Most packs encourage parent and Cub Scout working together on their car. For some parents this maybe the only time they take an active part in Scouting with their son. Cub Scouts that are from a single parent family may need assistance. Have a Pack wide workshop so Cub Scouts who need help with their cars have the opportunity to receive help. All Cub Scouts need to have the opportunity to experience the thrill of racing. The rules for car qualifying and racing are established by each pack committee or race committee and need to be followed when planning your Pinewood Derby. Below are tested rules from many years experience running and racing Pinewood Derby Cars.

  1. Car must have been made this year.
  2. The width shall not exceed 2 3/4 inches.
  3. The length shall not exceed 7 3/8 inches.
  4. The bottom of car clearance must have a minimum of 3/8 inch above the track surface (including the weights if on bottom).
  5. Wheel bearings, washers, and bushings are not to be used.
  6. Added details must be with in length, width, and weight limits.
  7. The car must be free wheeling with no starting devices.
  8. No loose material of any kind is to be in or on the car.
  9. Graphite may be used on car (powdered graphite only).
  10. Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Kit #1622 is provided by the pack. This kit may be modified in any way you wish (sand, file, turn wheels, etc.). Help is available in BOY'S LIFE magazine.
  11. No mags are allowed (only that come with Kit #1622).
  12. The car's weight shall not exceed five (5) ounces. Cars will be checked on official scales. All cars are to be weighed on the same scales the day of the race. Make the scales available at den meetings at least a week in advance for preliminary weigh-ins.

(Weight can be adjusted to be within limit. This is the responsibility of the parents. Have tools available race day to do the adjustments.)


  • If the design calls for cutting away much of the block, use a saw first, then a knife or sandpaper to finish.
  • Paint body parts before assembling them to avoid getting paint on axles.
  • Remove burrs on the axles before adding wheels, using sandpaper or emery cloth.
  • If there is a mold seam on the wheels, sand them very lightly.
  • Use white glue or model airplane cement to hold pin axle in body. Measure center distance between axles before attaching.
  • Lubricate axles with powdered graphite or silicone. No oil, grease or silicone spray should be used. Lubricating oil will slow wheel spin and dripping oil can foul the race track.
  • Fishing sinkers or other weights may be inserted in the body to add weight, but the total weight of the car may not exceed 5 ounces.

Race Day


All cars are inspected and measured to make sure they conform to racing rules. Cars passing inspection are immediately given to the registration table.


Cars passing inspection should be assigned a number. Put the Cub's name next to the number on the registration board after the car if it is ready for racing. Give all cars to the Car Corral Officials. Do not allow anyone to touch the cars during or after inspection. This will avoid any damages, added weight, and confusion. If the cars need attention by the Cubs before the race, remove the registration number and have the car re-inspected, weighed and numbered.

Car Corral Rules

Place the cars out of reach of the Cubs and crowd so that they will not be broken or tampered with. If the car needs to be removed for work before the race, remove registration sticker and inform the Cub that the car must be registered again. Warn Cubs that touching other cars may disqualify their car.

Car Repair Rules

Any adjustments or additions to the cars before registration may be done by the Cubs. After the race begins, the cars may be repaired if minor work can be quickly performed. Fix only the items needing attention, do not lube the cars. Be available after the race starts to fix cars and watch the tools at the repair table.

Judges And Finish Line Rules

The first car touching the finish line is the winner. If no car crossed the line the car going the farthest wins. If the cars cross very close to the same time, a tie can be declared. These cars can be re-run against other cars or on a different track or lane. Only in the finals will a close call be important. If both judges do not agree, it is a tie. Designate one judge to always pick up the winner by the center of the car to avoid smashing the wheels and say "THE WINNER". Return ties to the starting gate at once for re-run. The margin for ties should be smaller as the race progresses. Cars jumping off the track once is usually not a fault of the car; repeated jumping may be reason to lose.

(Having one judge always handling the winner will avoid mix-ups of the cars. Be careful; touching the wheels or dropping the cars can ruin them.)

Starting Gate Rules And Suggestions

Handle the cars with care, being careful not to pick them up by the wheels as they can be damaged. Make sure all cars are placed correctly, straight and not touching the center guides on the track. Be certain that the correct car is on the correct lane and is running against the correct cars. Then call out the number of the cars so that the names can be announced. Signal the judges and wait for the judges' starting signal.

Cars that are discovered to have loose parts or wheels may be repaired by race officials if time permits. Push loose wheels back in, being careful not to jam them against the side of the body. Decorative parts that are loose enough to fall off should be removed and not replaced. Cars breaking during a race will not finish that race; however, they may be repaired and put back in the next heat if time allows and they have not been eliminated.

The races themselves are run in heats. The following is a suggestion on how to run the heats.

Points System

  1. Run three heat system by den giving points to each car as they finish. Total accumulated points will determine the order of winners. First place is awarded 3 points, second place 2 points and third is awarded 1 point.
  2. Use colored dot system, with first place one color, second place another color and third place another. Cars should run on a different lane each time. At the end of three heats all cars are registered and winners are determined from total accumulated points. This system takes out track lane differences. Then all dots are removed to continue to next bracket race.
  3. The lane assignments for each heat are rotated.

Elimination Bracket

When using an elimination bracket keep in mind that every Cub Scout should be given the opportunity to race twice. Every race is run in two heats with first, second and third place winners of each heat given points. After the race is run, points are totaled with the winners moving on to the next bracket. Lanes are rotated after each heat.



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