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Pinewood Derby Rules


Your rules may differ, so be sure to read and abide by the rules for your local race.

Each car is inspected at weigh-in for the following inspection points:

Pinewood Derby Car Dimensions

The overall length of the car shall not exceed 7 inches.

The overall width of the car shall not exceed 2¾ inches.

The car must have 1in clearance between the wheels.

The car must have 3/8 clearance underneath the body so it does not rub on the track.




Derby Car Weight

The car weight shall not exceed 5.0 ounces.

The official race scale that is used at car check-in shall be considered final.






Wood, Wheels and Axles

The official pine wood block must be used. The block may be shaped in any way that is desired.

Official BSA wheels must be used. The wheels may not be cut, drilled, beveled or rounded. You may remove the seams and imperfections from the wheels.

The axles may be altered, polished and lubricated.

Car Modifications Not Allowed.

Check dates above for Pinewood Derby Racing.
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Some optional Pinewood Derby rules that you may want to add.


The car body may have no moving parts.

If, during a race, a car leaves the track without interfering with its opponent, it shall be considered to have ended its heat at that point.

If a car leaves its lane, at his sole discretion, the track chairman may inspect the track and, if a track fault is found which probably caused the initial violation, the track chairman may order the race to be rerun after the track is repaired.

If, during a race, no car reaches the finish line on the track, the car which went the farthest in its lane shall be declared as the heat winner.

If, during a race, a car leaves its lane and, in so doing, interferes with another racer, then the car at fault shall be declared to have lost the race heat.

Construction of ALL entries MUST have begun AFTER last year's races.

Only one car may be registered by any person in the Pinewood Derby.

Only dry lubricants such as graphite or powdered teflon "white lube" will be allowed for lubricating the wheels. Lubricants may not foul the track.

Only one lubrication is allowed before the beginning of the first race and then once again before the beginning of the first race of the semi-finals and finals.

Details such as the steering wheel, driver, decals, painting, and interior detail are permissible as long as these details do not exceed the maximum length, width, and weight specifications.
The Birth of the Pinewood Derby Car Race

Don Murphy™s idea for the Pinewood Derby began in the Management Club at North American Aviation, where he worked. Mr. Murphy wanted to create a Cub Scout activity he could do with his son. The idea of racing miniature cars came to him while thinking of his company sponsored Soap Box Derby races.

"I'd made models of airplanes, cars, boats, and any number of other structures and remembered the pleasure I got out of doing it," he said. "I also wanted to devise a wholesome, constructive activity that would foster a closer father-son relationship and promote craftsmanship and good sportsmanship through competition."

He asked the Management Club at his company, North American Aviation, to sponsor a miniature racing event for his Cub Scout pack that he had named a "pinewood derby." The club agreed to pay for the wood and other materials.

Murphy designed a miniature car that could be carved out of soft pinewood and wrote the rules. "Pack 280C had seven dens and den mothers," remembers Murphy, "and totaled 55 Cub Scouts at the time. Originally the block of wood we included in the kit was carved down in the forward third to a kind of cockpit. We put the wood, wheels, and nails into a brown paper sack with an assigned number. Some Cub Scout fathers built a 31-foot race ramp with two lanes and a battery-run finish line made from doorbells. Light bulbs would identify the winner."

Catching on like wildfire, the derby was an instant success and for a time was copied, with the Management Club's permission, by the Los Angeles County Department of Recreation. Then word reached the national director of Cub Scouting Service, O. W. (Bud) Bennett, who wrote Murphy:

"We believe you have an excellent idea, and we are most anxious to make your material available to the Cub Scouts of America."

Within the year the pinewood derby was adopted for use in all Cub Scout packs. In its October 1954 issue, Boys' Life publicized the event and offered plans for the track and a car, which featured "four wheels, four nails, and three blocks of wood."

Little has changed in the derby since 1953. During that time an estimated 43 million sons and fathers (mostly) have participated. And today's generation of Cub Scouts, moms and dads share the same fun, thrills, and rewarding moments.

Another event similar to the Pinewood Derby is the Shape N' Race Derby. This derby is part of the Christian Service brigade.

(Parts of this article were reproduced from The Founder and the Finder, By Barbara M. Wolcott, Scouting Magazine)

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Winning a Pinewood Derby