The pinewood derby - have the rules changed?

Im not sure where this goes, so mods please move it if you feel it goes somewhere else.

I came across some pics of the 50 coolest pine car derby cars of 2012. You can see the most impressiveones here (MHO, of course), but you can have access to all 50 from this page. There are also pics for the best 100 from 2011 and 2010, if you have the time.

My question… Did they change the rules? I was in the cub scouts, and I am a proud winner of our regions pine wood derby the year I participated. Adults doing the work on your car was prohibited. They were permitted to help with something dangerous, like a saw or drill, but for the most part, as a kid who has been trusted with an official cub scout knife, carving, sanding, gluing, and painting your car was strictly up to the scout. These things are amazing!

After you look at these two, have a look around the site. There are two great Angry Birds themed cars, and a great Mystery Machine Scooby Doo van.

Anyone remember their pine wood derby? Anyone remember cars looking like these? I remember that kids who had help with their cars were looked down on because they stuck out like sore thumbs, the cars looked great, and usually did well. My car won, but it was a crappy design and painted with a sad light blue paint that was all I could find in the garage. I won because I happened to get lucky with the position of my weights, which helped the car move faster than all the rest that year. Plus, I carved an amazing aerodynamic design. I wish I had a pic I could link to.

I still have my car, somewhere in a box along with my three inch trophy and small medal that was pinned to my cub scout shirt. The pride!

These cars are crazy, and the kids should feel no pride. Their parents, fathers, uncles, or whoevers that made these cars should be embarrassed. You had your chance! Let your kids have their moment in the pine wood derby sun.

Any of you current parents carve your kids pine wood derby car? For shame!

But seriously, are they now permitting an adult or small engineering firm to help?

The Pinewood Derby! That brings back some great memories, both as a kid in scouting and when my boys were going through Cub Scouts.

I wish I still had my cars.

Some of my sons’ cars looked amazing, and they did all the work themselves. The trick was taking it away from them at the correct times, before they got bored with it and burned out. They were some of the better-looking cars at the meet, although I do think there was a lot more parental input in some of them than was strictly proper, that wasn’t the case with my kids’ cars.

The scoutmaster mentioned some good tricks, and they remembered them and used them.

I wish I had saved those cars. It occurs to me that I could be remembering them a lot better than they were, out of maternal pride, but I don’t think so.

I saved mine - not sure where it is, but I’ve seen it in the last 6 months. I only really remember mine and a close friend of mines. While I “helped” with mine - most of the work was done by my dad. I think that was the case with most kids - as I don’t recall feeling any guilt or knowledge that I shouldn’t have been doing it that way. Or perhaps I thought their dad sucked. I do remember a previous year where I think I did all/most of the work - and it ended up breaking when another kid ran his backward into mine on the track. I was unhappy about that I remember.

I saw some tungsten weights for pinewood derby cars in michaels (or another craft store) the other day. Almost made me wish I had a son.

after seeing some of these cars, I wish I had a son myself! Some of these are quite impressive!

If memory served, the block had to be shaved down a bit to make weight. But I’m not exactly sure, since I remember some kids having cars that looked like the glued the wheels on the rectangular piece of wood.

Well I got to thinking that maybe I’d get a kit and try building a car now.

So I googled and found the answer to the mystery.


I never thought about googling. I just assumed everyone got that same, standard block. It looks like you can order anything you want and have a pretty cool looking car even without dads help.

Still, that doesn’t explain all of those cars. It does explain a lot, though. Thanks for the link.

I was looking at other places but I couldn’t find the block I used. It was rectangular box with a cut out for a "drivers’ seat.
I want to buy one and build one now.

What I remember from my pinewood derby was that the track was poorly constructed, and the car in the rightmost lane won every single time. By the end of the day it had become apparent to everybody there, but none of the grownups in charge would admit that something hinky was going on, so the derby continued and all the kids were really morose about it.

That’s what mine looked like (with some minimal whittling done on the front and back). It won one heat at least, which was more than I expected.

Technically, it was a Kub Kar, but I think a Kub Kar Rally is sort of the Canadian equivalent.

That’s definitely changed from my day–everybody got a block of wood with the “drivers seat” cut out, and two grooves on the bottom for the axles, just like Zebra mentioned.

My son is in Cub Scouts (I’m an assistant den leader) so this is fresh in my mind.

There are official BSA rules, but each scouting district can publish their own official rules for that district. “Minimal adult help” is alway encouraged, but not really enforced. To mitigate this, my pack has a separate competition for “family cars” - that way the uncle or dad or sibling of the scout can make and race their own car. The family cars to not compete against the scout cars.

The way our pack deals with this is that there are four lanes, and every race is completed in four heats, so each car goes down each lane once and the finish times are averaged to determine who wins and moves on to the next round.

Most important features of a winning car: maximum weight (5 oz), aerodynamic profile and straight wheels.

I should add that in additional to fastest car, we have trophies for “best design.” When I was a scout 35 years ago we also gave a trophy to the slowest car to cross the finish line. I won that one once!

I think different packs have different rules.

The pack my son was in required that you started with the official block. One year they had a meeting where parents brought in belt sanders and band saws and helped kids get closer to their visions, but the kids had to draw the cutlines on themselves.

Our pack also held a parents’ and siblings’ race. I always participated. My son and I both made cars for three years in a row. We followed the rules and I did not help him at all. He always won style based ribbons, no speed records. I would say that at his skill level during those years he could have made 40 to 50% of the cars in the OP’s link without any help.

And yeah, even though the parents weren’t supposed to help, there were obvious cases where the kids were in the house playing Nintendo while the dads “just helped a little.” same thing with science fair. The flyer goes home every year that says it has to be the child’s work but there are always the projects that just broadcast “My mom the graphic designer made my board.”

Pack 228 also had a fundraiser and bought a state of the art computerized track. I miss the Pinewood Derby.

When I clicked on the link, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then that old ‘Vette popped up, and I said, out loud, "Are you shittin’ me with that?" I’ll never use the word impossible, but it’s almost impossible for me to believe that that was done by a Cub Scout.

Well, hell. Fuck the world, deep, and on a slant.

DAmn, that seems to take all the fun out of trying to design something.:frowning:

I think that is what they should go back to for the base derby, and the fancy crap for a separate run.

The rule in our district is that you MUST start out with the basic BSA derby kit. You must use the block, wheels and axles that are provided in that kit. No 3rd party kits or wheels are allowed.

When my son was a scout the rules were that the boys had to do the majority of the work. Each scout started with the basic blocks mentioned above. We had pack nights where the boys could gather to work on their cars and the parents would bring specialty tools to help out those that didn’t have access to them. Great concept.

The pack nights for car building ended up with the boys growing bored with sanding, filing, whatever after about 10 or 15 minutes and just running around the gym or yard. When my son ditched his car to go play I let it just sit there. Other dads would pick up the car and continue on where the son left off. It pissed me off.

I told my son what he needed to do to make his car faster. He did those things, but in a 3rd grader way. His car came in last or 2nd to last. His car LOOKED like it was built by a scout (he even has the certificate to say that since that was a category they created to encourage parents to butt out). It was clear the winning cars were done by the parents. My son hated coming in last every race, but I explained that he wasn’t going up against other scouts, he was up against the parents. It didn’t help.

For the track, though, they really did a great job. It had 4 lanes and it was obvious they were not equal. We devised a 100+ race schedule in which every car raced every other car and they raced in every lane. We then took the top 8 cars and did a double elimination race off to figure out top 8 placement. The only change that made to the standings was that place 7 and 8 swapped, but they were so close it could have gone either way. We did this for about 20 cars and it took less than an hour.

Not only are you supposed to use the block in the box and the wheels but certain modifications are forbidden - no changing of the axle grooves. We told families this every year and some refused to listen and we had to disqualify the cars (we let them race but their times are not official). Also there is a length, width and height restriction. Other have mentioned the 5 oz max weight rule.

Incidentally there are Raingutter Regatta rules too that we always had to enforce because this one family kept glueing the sail flush with the deck and curling it rearwards, effectively making it an enclosed chamber. The slighest puff wound send the thing flying. The dad was a bit of a competitive asshole and he was not happy when we started enforcing a “normal sail configuration”. We told him the other option was that we’d mail his secret to everyone in the pack, negating his advantage. I felt bad for his kid.