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Cub Scout Pack 497
(Cockeysville, Maryland)
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Pinewood Derby

The first Pinewood Derby was held in 1953 by Cub Scout Pack 280C of Manhattan Beach, California.  Will your son's car be the fastest in the Pack??

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Pack 497 January 2013 Pinewood Derby Rules.pdf Pinewood Derby Race Rules and Procedures  

Pinewood Derby Car Specifications

All racers must comply with the following racing specifications:


1.       Body:  Each racers car must be modeled out of the wooden block issued to them by Pack 497.  No other kits or pre-cut race cars may be used. 


2.     Width: Overall width shall not exceed 2-3/4". 


3.     Length: Overall length shall not exceed 7". 


4.     Clearance:  The Pack 497 Pinewood Derby track does not allow for much clearance between the bottom of the pinewood block and the base of the wheels.  Although weights are permitted to extend slightly below the bottom of the block, doing so could cause the car to “hang up” on the track.  Racers who do not recess weights on the underside of the car DO SO AT THEIR OWN RISK.  No special allowances will be made for cars that get hung up on the track due to poor clearance.  Recess bottom weights or add weights elsewhere on the car.


5.     Weight: Finished car can not weigh more than 5 ounces. The weight shown on either of the Official Race Scales is final.  To increase the car's weight, add wood or metal only. 


6.     Wheels & Axles: Use only Official Scout Grand Prix wheels and axles.  Racers may substitute the black wheels included with the Pack issued kit with colored pinewood derby wheels available in retails stores and hobby shops.  The substitute wheels must be manufactured specifically for pinewood derby cars and must dimensions that are essentially identical to the dimensions of the black wheels included in the kit issued by the Pack (horizontal surface of the wheels must be smooth).  The Race Committee can, in their sole discretion, disqualify a car whose wheels do not meet this description.


You can polish/sand the axles to remove seams and rough spots. You may lightly sand the wheels to remove the molding seam on the tread.  Washers and bushings are prohibited. 


It is permissible to re-cut the axle groove on the underside of the car to make sure they are square or to change the wheel base.  However, the leading edge of the car’s front wheels may NOT extend beyond the front-most edge of the body and the trailing edge of the wheels may NOT extend beyond the back-most edge of the body.


7.     Attachments:  Accessories of wood, plastic, metal or paper may be added to the body of the car as long as they are firmly attached.  The Race Committee, in its sole discretion, my decide to permanently remove any attachment that is not firmly secured to the body of the car.  The racer will be responsible to make any subsequent weight adjustments.


8.    Surface Finish:  All paints, adhesives and varnishes must be completely dry in order to pass inspection.  Any wet or sticky substances on the surface of the car must be dried, removed or permanently covered or the car will not be permitted to race.


9.    Numbers:  All cars must be numbered with the number issued by the Pack (written in pen on the box by the UPC code).  You can number the cars with the stickers provided in the kit, or paint them on. 


10.  Lubrication: Use dry powdered graphite ONLY. You may not use any other lubricant, especially oils and silicone sprays. No graphite may be applied inside the St. Joseph’s MPR or foyer.   


11.   Springing: The car shall not ride on any type springs. 


12.  Details: Details such as steering wheel, driver, decals, painting, or interior detail are permissible as long as these details do not exceed the maximum length, width, and weight specifications and they are securely fastened to the car.


13.  Attachments: The car must be freewheeling with no starting devices. 


14.  Inspection: Each car must pass inspection by the Race Committee before it may compete. The Inspectors have the right to disqualify those cars which do not meet specifications by race time. 

Guidelines for Pinewood Derby Car Assembly

The following guidelines are to be followed when building a Pinewood Derby racer. These guidelines are established to minimize controversy over the degree of parental involvement in the construction of the car. Remember that, ideally, the building of a Pinewood Derby car is a parent/son endeavor. If a parent is unable to assist the Scout in building the racer, help from an older sibling, or other adult relative is encouraged. 

·                    Car Design - The Scout should select and produce a sketch of the car design. Ensure that the width of the car is 1-3/4" or greater at the points where the wheels are attached. If the width is less than 1-3/4" at these points the car will not fit on the track. 


·                    Shaping the Car Body - In most cases, the adult is encouraged to rough cut the car body. This is particularly true if power tools are used. 

1.       If hand tools are used, let the Scout assist in cutting the shape. Use this opportunity to instruct the Scout on the proper use, care, and storage of the tools that you are using.

2.     If power tools are used, ensure that all safety devices associated with the tools are employed. Use this opportunity to instruct the Scout on the safe operation of power tools. Make sure that safety glass/goggles are worn by anyone around a power tool in operation.


·                    Check the grooves to ensure that each is at a perfect 90-degree angle to the car body. A car with untrue axles tends to steer to one side or the other, causing it to rub up against the side of the lane strip, slowing it down. 


·                    Finishing the Car Body - ALL sanding, painting, decal application, or other detailing of the car body shall be done by the Scout.  Once the shape of the car body is established it is the Scout's sole responsibility to finish the car. Guidance by the adult is encouraged, but actual performance of the work falls to the Scout. Once again, use this opportunity to instruct the Scout on sanding technique, painting decals, etc., but don't forget to let the Scout do the work!!! 

·                    Wheels and Axles - Adults should supervise or assist with the preparation of wheels and axles. All of the steps that follow are critical if the car is to be a fast racer! 

1.     As noted in the instructions that come with the racer, remove the wheel seams using a drill (electric or hand), a six penny finishing nail, and a piece of fine sandpaper glued to a flat block. Let the Scout assist by having him hold the sandpaper (all ages) or the drill (recommended for Webelos only). 

2.   Insert the axles (without the wheels) into the car body to within 1/4” of the head of the axle. Make sure that the axles are inserted perpendicular to the car body. Gently remove the axles with a pair of pliers by slowly twisting and pulling on each axle. 

3.   Prelubricate (a) the inside of each wheel and (b) the part of the axle near the head where the wheel will rotate with dry powdered graphite. Do not use regular oil or silicone spray. These lubricants can soften the plastic wheels. 

4.   Slide the wheels over the axles and gently tap the axles into the car body. A gap of 1/32" is recommended between the wheel and the car body. In short, a slight gap should exist between the wheels and the body. Each wheel should turn freely.


The Pinewood Derby Rules


1.       Racers must have their cards registered and inspected before the races begin.  Racers that do not arrive at least 15 minutes before race time are NOT assured entry. 


2.     Cars that do not pass inspection may be modified by the racer/parent as many times as is necessary to pass inspection, TIME PERMITTING.


3.     Racers may modify the weight of their cars as many times as they wish in order to maximize the car’s weight.  However, once they surrender the car to the Race Committee, it will NOT be returned for further modification (except to repair damage incurred during the course of racing or handling).


4.     Once cars have been registered, weighed, and certified, they will remain in the hands of Race Committee until the end of the competition.


5.     Once all cars are registered, the racing heats will begin.  Members of each Den will compete with other members of their Den as well as the Pack as a whole.  First, second and third place finishes will be awarded for each Den and for the Pack and will be mutually exclusive.


6.     In general, each car will race once on each lane on the track to determine their winning time/speed.  Exact details on the order of racing heats will be disclosed on race day.


7.     Boy Scouts and/or Race Committee adults will handle the cars throughout the racing period.  No Cub Scouts will handle their own cars or the cars of others during the heats.


8.     If a car is damaged during the heats, the racer will have approximately 5 minutes to fix the damage.


9.     NO GRAPHITE WILL BE ALLOWED IN THE BUILDING day of the race. In the past this caused too much of a mess.  Lubricate them outside or at home.


10.  Because of possible damage to the cars and track, there will be no running, pushing, yelling, etc. in the building. Violators will be disqualified.


11.   Scouts and all other spectators must remain behind the tape. Seats will be set up to allow spectators to see the race.


12.  The starter will make sure the cars are on the track properly and then will start the race. 


13.  Results will be recorded at the finish line using software designed specifically for Pinewood Derby racing. 


14.  If a car leaves the track, runs out of its lane, interferes with another car, loses an axle, etc., the heat will be rerun. If the same car gets into trouble on the second run, the contestant is disqualified and automatically loses that race. If, on the second run, another car is interfered with, the heat will be run a third time, but without the disqualified car. 


15.  Cars constructed for previous Pinewood Derbies are not eligible to compete.