Winning Pinewood Derbies - Intro

Having two sons in scouts I have been through a lot of pinewood derby races.  I remember the very first race with my oldest son.  He didn't win and there were a couple of cars that smoked everyone else.  Obviously their father new more about pincecar racing than I did.  I felt like I let my son down, at the very least his car should have done better.

So I thought about the car, the race, friction and gravity.  Learned what I could from what was on the internet, not much in the 90's.  Even borrowed a track and did some testing.  By the time my youngest son was racing his cars were almost unbeatable.  Now that they are grown up I decided it was time to pass along what I have learned.

I won't get too much into the actual building of the car, you can find that on plenty of sites.  What I will tell you are thinks that will make the car run faster! Some of these you will have seen on other sites or books. One thing that you will find, on this site, where I can, I back up my conclusions with actual test data not just conjecture!  You can be confident these tips will make a difference.  Where else will someone show you actual data to back up their recommendations for free?

I feel however that I must say you are doing yourself and your child a disservice if you don't work on the car together.  Particularity as they get older they can do more of the work, (sanding, painting, etc.).  There are some things that you will still need to do because of safety or they just don't have the skill yet.  however the main thing is you are working together.  I know how hard this can be, it was for me, but as time went on my sons would do more, but it was hard for me to let go sometimes.


My son, (second from left) with the first of many derby trophies.