Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby was first introduced to Cub Scouts in 1956 as they were looking for an alternative to race since they could race in the Soap Box Derby that the Boy Scouts were racing.   Not much has changed in the derby world except for newer machined aluminum tracks, laser tracking systems and high-tech computerized racing software.   Pack 458 still races on the same 4 lane 48ft long wooden track as we first did in 1958.  In 2012, Ned Seith master engineer and scout dad of Joseph designed a custom finish line gate and timer system which has brought us into the 21st century.  In 2014, Steve Werney our master carpenter and scout dad of Luke decided that it was time to freshen up the track.

Want to know more about the history of the derby, click here.


All scouts registered with our pack will be provided an official race car kit, lunch ticket, participation medal.  Plus a trophy if he places in one of the top three winning positions in the Cub Class race, or was voted one of the special awards.


  1. Length, Width and Clearance
    a) The maximum overall width (including wheels and axles) shall not exceed 2-3/4 inches.
    b) The minimum width between the wheels shall be 1-3/4 inches so the car will clear the center guide strip on the track.
    c) The minimum clearance between the bottom of the car and the track surface shall be 3/8 inch so the car will clear the center guide strip on the track.  *Bottom mounted weights are not recommended as they often interfere with the center guide strip of our track unless weights are recessed into the body.  See Picture Below
    d) The maximum overall length shall not exceed 7 inches.
    e) The wheel-base (distance between the front and rear axles) may not be changed from the kit body distance of 4-1/4 inches and you must use the original axel slots.
  2. Weight and Appearance
    a) Weight shall not exceed 5 ounces. The reading of the official PACK scale will be considered final. The car may be hollowed out and built up to the maximum weight by the addition of wood or metal only, provided the material is securely built into the body or firmly affixed to it. No liquids or loose materials of any kind are permitted in or on the car.   Bottom mounted weights must be flush with the original block or it may interfere with the center guide strip.
    b) Details such as steering wheel, driver, spoiler, decals, painting and interior details are permissible as long as these details do not exceed the maximum length, width or weight specifications.
    c) Cars with wet or sticky paint will not be accepted.

    d) No live animals, plants, or perishable items allowed on the race car.
  3. Wheels and Axles
    a) Axles and wheels shall be only as provided in the Official Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Kit.
    b) Wheels may be lightly sanded to smooth out molding imperfections in the tread area. This light sanding is the only modification allowed. Beveling, tapering, thin sanding, wafering or lathe turning of the wheels is prohibited.
    c) Axles may not be altered in any way except for polishing.
    d) Wheel bearings, washers, bushings, and hub caps are prohibited.
    e) The car shall not ride on any type of springs.
    f) The car must be free-wheeling, with no starting device or other type of propulsion.

    g) All 4 wheels must make contact with the race surface simultaneously (no wobbling or teetering).
  4. Lubrication
    a) Only graphite or powdered teflon "white lube" will be allowed for lubricating the wheels.

    b) Race officials may apply graphite to all four axels at time of check in upon racers request.  No further lubrication will be applied or allowed during this race event.

    c) If racer choses not to lubricate axels and it is later found that his car is not completing the race or visibly runs slow (last) because of lack of lubrication, then the race officials may chose to lubricate the axels one time to see if it helps.
  5. Ground Rules and Competition
    a) The Cub Class race is open to all Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts registered in our Pack.  

    b) The Cub Class racers MUST use the BSA derby car kit provided to them or purchased from the scout store, they cannot use any other kits like PinePro, Revell, ABC Pine, etc.
    c) Each scout may enter only one car in the Cub Class competition. Additional cars may race in the Outlaw Class for an entry fee.

    d) The Outlaw Class is reserved for parents, leaders, siblings, guests, visiting scouts, and youth recruitments.  See outlaw class rules below #8
    e) The car must have been built during the current year (the school year in which the Derby is held). Cars that have competed in a previous Derby are not permitted.
    f) Competition will consist of qualification heat races using the Stearns-Borum method. which will race each car against each other using all four lanes.
    g) Stearns-Borum method is designed to equalize differences among track lanes where cars will race in different lanes in each qualification heats.
    h) If a car jumps the track, the race will be run again.  If the same car jumps the track a second time, that car will be removed and automatically place last in that heat.
    i) If a car leaves its lane and interferes with another car, the race will be run again.  If the same car leaves its lane a second time and interferes with another car, the race will be run again without the interfering car. The interfering car will automatically place last in that heat.
    j) If a car becomes damaged and can be repaired in a reasonable amount of time (two minutes), the race may be run again.  If not, the damaged car will automatically place last in that heat.
    k) The electronic finisher will determine the finishing positions of the cars for each heat.  If the electronic finisher fails the race will be re-run.  If the electronic finisher fails all together the races will be judged by two judges who will decide the positions.
    l) Only adult Race Officials and Boy Scouts assigned as assistants may enter the track area. This rule will be strictly enforced.

    m) Race officials or the Cubmaster reserve the right to disqualify any racer who shows bad or poor sportsmanship during a race/heat.
  6. Inspection and Registration
    a) Each car must pass a technical inspection before it may compete. Technical inspection and registration of cars occurs before the races start.
    b) The Inspection Committee shall disqualify cars which do not meet these rules. If a car does not pass inspection, the owner will be informed of the reason his car did not pass (too long, too heavy, altered wheel base, or the like). Cars which fail the initial inspection may be modified and brought back for final inspection and registration.
    c) All cars will be assigned a race car number at the time of inspection check-in.  T=Race car numbers placed on the car by the racer will not be used.  Registration will take place as the event opens at 9:00am.
    d) No cars may be altered in any way after it has been registered. Damage repair shall be allowed during the Derby only if it does not delay the race, but no modifications shall be allowed.
    e) After passing inspection, no car shall be re-inspected unless repaired after damage in handling or in a race.
    f) Any participant (including parents of participants) may appeal to the Race Officials for an interpretation of these rules.  By a majority vote, the Cubmaster will be the final judge of these rules. In case of a tie vote, the decision of the Cubmaster shall be final.
    g) Ungentlemanly or unsportsmanlike conduct by any participant or spectator will be grounds for expulsion from the competition and/or the race area.
    h) Once a car has passed inspection they will only be handled by the Race Officials.
  7. Rewards and Recognition
    a) The most important values in Pinewood Derby competition are parent/son participation, good sportsmanship and learning how to follow rules. The Race Committee is responsible for recognizing and encouraging these qualities in addition to traditional racing awards.
    b) Every participating racer in either the Cub Class or Outlaw Class will receive a participation award if they do not place in the top three winning positions.

    c) Trophies will be awarded to the first, second, and third-place finishers in the Cub Class race.

    d) Trophies or medals will be awarded for the first, second, and third-place finishers in the Outlaw Class race.
    e) Cub Class participants will vote for, and be eligible to win one of five special awards for; Best Cub Spirit, Best Paint Job, Funniest Design, Most Awesome, Most Original Design.  Scoring is based upon cub class races voting, any ties in any of the scores will be then voted upon by the racing officials.   No scout will win more than one of these awards. 

    f) One "Best of Show" award will be voted on and tallied by the racing officials.

    g) The thought is that we spread the winnings out and that no one scout wins 1-2-3 placing, Best of Show, and any special awards.


    a) Weight shall not exceed 5 ounces

    b) No part of the vehicle's design can interfere with the race track, starting gate, finish line, timing system, or adjacent race lanes.

    c) Race car must run under it's own gravity power.

    d) Design, wheels, axels, weights are not restricted to BSA parts only as in the cub class.

    e) No live animals, plants, or perishable items or meat allowed on the race car.

    f) Use any materials, after market items like kits, wheels, axels, weights, propellers.

    g) All wheels must make contact with the race surface simultaneously (no wobbling or teetering).

    h) NO rocket launchers, flames, compressed gases, combustibles, explosives, or small animals.

    i) There is an entry fee for this race which is $20 per racer which includes; one race car kit, lunch ticket, participation gift or trophy/medal if you place in the top three winning positions.  For racers using a previous car the entry fee is $15 and includes all the same items above, minus the new race car kit.  

    j) If a participant wishes to race more than one car in the Outlaw Class, you must get permission from the Cubmaster before the event and discuss the entry fees and scoring.

    Our pack uses our original 1958 4-lane wood track which is the same height, pitch, and length as the newer aluminum tracks with one difference which is the ground clearance between the bottom of the derby car and the lane divider.   Wood tracks are designed where the derby car rolls down the track over top of a lane strip and the inside tire walls maintain direction, whereas metal tracks have the derby cars rolling between the lane dividers and lane direction is maintained on the outer tire walls.  Regardless of track style, altering tires is strictly prohibited in the Cub Scout Class.

An Almost REQUIRED viewing for every family!

We have six copies of this movie that families are welcome to
sign out 
a copy and return at the next meeting.  

See Cubmaster Donn for a copy.