National Capital Area Council | Prince William District

Pinewood Derby Rules

Pinewood Derby Car Specifications

All racers, regardless of rank, must comply with the following racing specifications which are excerpted from the official Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Kit Instructions:

  1. Width: Overall width shall not exceed 2-3/4″.
  2. Length: Overall length shall not exceed 7″.
  3. Weight: Finished car cannot weigh more than 5 ounces. The weight shown on the Official Race Scale is final. All car parts and materials must be firmly attached. To increase the car’s weight, add wood or metal only.
  4. Wheels & Axles: Use only Official Scout Grand Prix wheels and axles. (these come in your car kit but may also be purchased from the scout shop or hobby shops) FULL BAR TYPE AXLES ARE NOT PERMITTED. You can polish the axles, and you may lightly sand the wheels to remove the molding seam on the tread. No other wheel changes are allowed. Washers and bushings are prohibited
    • A minimum of 3 wheels must contact the track. Additional wheels can be added as long as they do not make contact with the track
  5. Lubrication: Use dry powdered graphite ONLY. You may not use any other lubricant, especially oils and silicone sprays. No graphite may be applied after the car is checked in.
  6. Springing: The car shall not ride on any type springs.
  7. 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 height specifications.
    • All detailing must follow the scouting values found in the Scout Oath and Law.
    • Detailing must be firmly attached to car. Should any detailing or part of the car (including wheels) fall off a car during a heat, that car will receive a max time penalty for the heat.
    • No detailing may include the following items even if they are used solely for decoration.
      1. Fireworks and/or other explosives
      2. Liquids including paint that has not fully dried
      3. Sharp items such as knife blades
  8. Attachments: The car must be freewheeling with no starting devices.
  9. Build: All cars must be made by the scout with assistance of their family members or friends. Building a car in a group setting, such as a den meeting or pinewood derby workshop is allowed as long as the scout is present and helping.
    • No car may be purchased in a completed or semi-completed state.
    • Cars must have not previously been used in any Cub Scout Pinewood Derby regardless of unit.
  10. 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. (The scout will be given an opportunity to correct any issues with the car that keep it from qualifying to race.)
    • Race officials can disqualify any car that breaks down during the race, consistently jumps tracks, and/or interferes with other racers.

Guidelines for Pinewood Derby Car Assembly

The following guidelines are to be followed when building a Pinewood Derby racer. Remember that, ideally, the building of a Pinewood Derby car should be done by the scout with the assistance of a trusted adult.

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.

3. 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 should be done by the Scout. 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 take the lead in preparing the 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. (How do you measure that?!! Guess! or you can purchase a measuring gap tool from the scout shop or hobby shops) In short, a slight gap should exist between the wheels and the body. Each wheel should turn freely.


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