The picture above shows how far we beat the competition (3-5 feet) Our car was in lane 5 and was already past the finish line. (lane 6 empty)
What does it take to win the Pinewood Derby?
Take this QUIZ to see if you know what you are doing
1. What is better, Weight in the front, middle or back?
2. What is better, 4 wheels or 3 wheels?
3. What is better, Lead or Tungsten for weight?
4. What is better, a long wheel base or a normal wheel base?
5. What is better, a low profile (aerodynamic) body or a tall wedge shape?
6. What is the most important factor in your car design, weight placement, axles polished & lubed, or body shape?
7. What is better, ultra fine graphite or flaky graphite?
8. What is better, heavy wheels or light wheels?
9. What is better, a total weight of 141 grams (4.9736 oz) or 143 grams (5.0442 oz)?
10. What is better an aluminum track or a wooden track?
How do we know what we are talking about?
Our world record family of 11 Eagle Scouts
My name is DeCall and I am the oldest of 11 brothers who all have earned their Eagle Scout rank, and yes it is a world record. When I was a young Cub Scout, I was happy to come in 3rd place. Dad (Larrie Thomas) and my brothers had good and bad results when it
came to Pinewood Derby cars. You should see the box full of old derby cars we have..... every design you could think of. We learned a lot of things from all those derby races. We learned
to polish and polish and polish those axles. We learned to make the cars aerodynamic. We learned not to put weight in the wheels but hollow them out, and to put the weight in the back not the middle or front. It took a few years of trial and error, but by the 7th son Gilbert, we were able to win the multi district Boulder Dam Area Council race back in 1981
Can my boy actually build a pinewood derby car himself?
I am impressed every time I hear some dad say "My son built this car all by him self." It's true. The only problem is that the boy comes in 9th or 10th place or something. And sometimes you see a car that looks like the dad made it, but Ideally it's a father son project right? I know my dad was accused sooooo many times of
building the cars for my brothers. I have heard a million times "No boy could have made
that car" I try not to worry too much.... the whole thing is fun using the drill press, the belt sander, the band saw, the sandpaper, the paint, the stickers etc. Our rule is that my boys do every step. I hold the square and they mark the line, I hold the block and they pull the drill handle, I hold the drill and they do the sandpaper on the axles. They do every step, and we talk and we practice and we learn skills all along the way. My boys are so proud when they are
done. Last year I had 4 sons in cub scouts..... that's right.... 4 sons. That means 4 derby cars to design and build. Even if I beat them like a stubborn mule, they get tired and lose focus. Even dad gets a little tired trying to see that everything is done to perfection. So what are we teaching our boys????? We are teaching them that winning IS something and winning happens when we plan, we study, we do things based on principles of speed. We learn that sloppy work gives
us sloppy results. We learn that everything in life works the same way. Success is not left to chance or randomness, but principles of truth that we must know and control in order to win on the track and in our lives.
1. Weight in the BACK. Definitely, and there is only one exception, which is when the track has a perfect incline with no dips in it, then the weight position doesn't matter.
2. 3 wheels touching are better, maybe even 2 wheels (back left & front right)
3. Tungsten is better than lead. GOLD is better than tungsten, but who can afford that?? I hope you see the humor here.. LOL. The main goal is to move the center of gravity back as far as you can without the car "popping a wheelie"
4. Long wheel base is better. If you use the factory slots, you are probably losing races. (in a straight incline track this doesn't matter)
5. The lower the better. A 1/4" flat block is probably one of the best designs you could use. Maybe a rocket scientist could help with your design, just don't forget to cram 4 oz of lead or tungsten into the back somewhere. Also you'll have to agree with your son's design style............... it's his car
6. Axles polished & lubricated. Lube is most important, axles polished correctly 2nd most important, weight in the back 3rd, and an aerodynamic body 4th.
7. Flaky graphite. Actually, a layer of graphite one molecule thick on the axle is ideal. Give me a call if you figure out how to do that.
8. Lighter wheels are worth a few inches at the bottom of the track. Oh, and if you ever have the brilliant idea of putting anything in or on the wheels..... slap your self in the face and say "NO you dummy"
9. I know, get out your church Bible, 5.0442 oz is against the rules. But the pinewood derby bible teaches us that 5.0442 (143 grams) rounds off to 5 oz on any scale. So every other car that weighs in at "5 Ounces" could be 141 grams or 142 grams or 143 grams.... and yes it matters.
10. Aluminum. Unless the guy running the Alumn. track doesn't care much and your car bumps at every joint OR the guy running the wooden track has gone to great pains to make everything smooth and perfect.
I figure most guys will get these answers right, but I wanted to MAKE SURE you know what is correct..... so now you know.
Pinewood derby Supplies
One of many trophies
12.006 seconds in 4 races
3.0015 second average
An amazing time on a 42ft. Best Track
Free Pinewood Derby Speed Tips
Check This Out!!!!!
I just printed out all the lectures by Doc. Jobe and it's a FREE Book nearly 1" thick. I had this bound and I can't believe how excellent these two books are. I have no relation to Doc. John Jobe, just a love for the Pinewood Derby. If you love the PWD and you want to start winning, then you have got to download these lectures. You simply cannot argue against the principles of physics. You may think you have a great new idea, but chances are, it's already been tried tested and analyzed in these books by Jobe. So stop wasting your time trying this idea or that idea and look at the data and research that has already been presented here. The lectures are free.
link: Huge Pinewood Derby Book
link: FREE Pinewood Derby Lectures
Go here to order fast wheels
Pinewood Derby Kit
Here is our 2009 trophy in the Sunhawk District (Las Vegas, NV) where the 5 fastest cars were all from our pack and using the same principals.
My boys did every step on these cars. One key to making a FAST Pinewood Derby car is having the right tools and teaching your boys how to use them safely.
My son Turner won
My son Tate won our pack