Winning a first-place trophy with a car that speeds down the track, leaving other racers in the dust, is the dream of many Pinewood Derby participants. No matter how many modifications you make or speed tips you employ, it’s difficult to know how your car will perform until it makes that first run down the racetrack.
When my son and I made our first car together, we weren’t very confident in our ability to produce a fast car, so we felt the car needed to feature a cool design. Whether or not it was fast, we knew we’d have a car we could be proud of because it looked great. Our first car was almost as slow as we had feared. In subsequent years, we worked together to create cool-looking cars that were also super-fast. Now that my son has moved on to Boy Scouts, my daughter and I enjoy working together and building cars to compete in her Awana Club races.
For beginners, a Pinewood Derby car kit can resemble a puzzle with the picture missing. It’s easy to look at the contents and wonder what to do next. Even experienced racers often wonder how to make a better, faster car. If that’s how you feel, don’t worry! This special issue was created to explain the basic process of creating a car. You’ll also find speed tips that will help put your car at the head of the pack.
The basic wedge car on page 74 is a perfect project for first time racers. The detailed step-by-step instructions guide you through cutting an aerodynamic car, placing the weight correctly, and preparing the wheels and axles. It’s a car your child can make with minimal help, and it should place well enough for him to feel proud of his accomplishment.
Experienced racers hoping to improve their time at this year’s Derby should try the advanced speed tips related to weight placement, axle preparation, and wheel lubrication. There is no magic step or secret that will turn your car into a winner every time — just a series of steps, each of which will shave a fraction of a second off of your time. Those seconds can add up, making your car a winner.
Spending time with your child is the most important aspect of participating in the Pinewood Derby. It’s also important to be aware of what you and your child can learn from building a car together. Following a few simple principles will help make the Pinewood Derby a truly rewarding experience for both of you. Remember to work as a team, let your child decide which body style to make, let your child pick the colors and detail options, and teach your child skills and techniques as you work.
If you don’t own any tools or don’t have a way of cutting out a car, pre cut kits are available at your local craft store. Simply choose a design to your child’s liking and start by sanding and painting the car.
No matter what approach you take to building a car, remember to have fun with the process. It’s the experience of working together as a team that your child will remember.