Every year, more than a million Cub Scouts and adult partners team up to participate in a Pinewood Derby, a tradition that goes back generations. Building a car from a block of wood helps Cub Scouts build confidence and take pride in their own growing skills and hard work.
The Pinewood Derby was begun in California in 1953 by Cubmaster Donald Murphy, who was looking for a fun project to do with his son, who was too young to compete in the city's soapbox derby. He conceived of the small wooden gravity-propelled cars, and wrote a rule set for the race.
Scouts in his Cub Scout pack (280C) were issued a simple kit consisting of a block of soft pine wood, 2 wooden axles, 4 nails and 4 wheels. The kits for Pinewood Derby cars today are very similar to those original kits! (The contents of your derby box kit are pictured to the right)
The first Pinewood Derby race was held on May 15, 1953. It was an instant success, and was adopted by the national office of the Boy Scouts of America the very next year for use in Cub Scout packs nationwide. To date, more than 100 million Cub Scouts have participated in the Pinewood Derby.
Building Your Car
• The length of the car shall not exceed 7"
• Overall width including accessories shall not exceed 2 3/4"
• The overall height of the car shall not exceed 3"
• The bottom clearance of the car shall be no less than 3/8"
• The inside wheel width (distance between left front and right front wheels and distance between left rear and right rear wheels) shall be no less than 1 ¾" and no more than 2 ¾"
• Weight shall not exceed 5 ounces
• Wheel bearings, washers, and bushings are prohibited.
• The car shall not ride on springs.
• Only official Cub Scout Grand Prix Pinewood Derby wheels and axles are permitted
• Only dry lubricant is permitted
• The car must be free-wheeling, with no starting devices.
• All body parts, weights and accessories must be securely fastened.
• Accessories and details are permissible as long as these details do not exceed the size and weight specifications.
• Each car must pass inspection by the official inspection committee before it may compete.
The rules for the Pinewood Derby are firmly established (see details below). Each car must pass inspection by the official inspection committee before it may compete.
If, at registration, a car does not pass inspection, the owner will be informed of the reason for failure, and will be given time within the official weigh-in time period to make the adjustment.
After approval, cars will not be re-inspected unless the car is damaged in handling or in a race. Therefore, it is vital that your child's car meet the guidelines, but there is plenty of room for creativity within those rules!
Many many unique designs have been made by scouts over the years, in the shape of the car, paint job, decals and stickers. Your Scout can 'pimp his car' any way he likes within the guidelines.
The Derby track may be 2 or four lanes (ours has 2) on which the cars race. Each lane has a central tail that the car straddles. This keeps the car in the lane and prevents it from sliding into the lane of another car.
The race is run in a series of qualifying "heats" in which scouts will compete through a double elimination style competition.
A champion will be chosen for each den, as well as an overall champion for the pack based on the speediest car. Additionally, Pack 43 gives awards for creative designs.
The winning cars' times will be submitted to the district, and may qualify the scout for the district derby race. Winners in the district race go on to compete with other winners in the state, and state winners go on to compete on a national level.
While only scouts are eligible for the official competition, siblings and parents are encouraged to make and race their own cars! Pinewood Derby is fun for the whole family, and prizes and awards will be given to unofficial racers as well.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!
We'll see you all on February 23rd. Good Luck Pack 43!