Pinewood Derby Design Tips and Tricks

by MyDadBlog on January 16, 2012

in Advice,Games

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This weekend was the annual pinewood derby race with the kids for Adventure Guides.  Lucky me, I have another car to build for my son for cub scouts in the coming weeks since he insists on doing both.  Anyway, this was the third year with Adventure Guides and our cars have been pretty bad in the past two years.  I felt bad and now that it’s third year (and his little brother has joined as well), I wanted the boys’ cars to do a little better.  Well, after talking to some of the dads who take this stuff pretty seriously and doing some trial and error, we were able to get both cars into the finals!  That was a first, so they made about top 12 out of 80 cars.  After having crappy cars and decent cars, here are a few tips and tricks to winning the pinewood derby that I can pass on:

Pinewood Derby Car Tips and Tricks


  • I’ve found that the wheels matter much more than the aerodynamics of the car.  So, if you have to focus time and attention on one over the other, focus on the axles, wheels and whatnot and don’t stress if your car isn’t perfectly sanded or your son wants to put a Lego guy sticking out the top.
  • Most of the winning cars end up being very thin and/or wedge-like.  They end up stacking on a ton of weights to make up for the wood they’ve chopped out.  I’m not sure why this matters, as mass is mass, but I suppose perhaps it’s more rigid that way since the wood is pretty flimsy and the weights are metal.
  • I’ve found that winning cars tend to have the weights stuck toward the back of the car, as opposed to the front.  Again, I don’t why this matters, but they all swear by it and the winning cars tend to have that pattern.
  • The wheels and axles!  This is huge.
  • And this is a little tidbit you’re not going to get anywhere else!  I took a snapshot of all the winner’s circle cars just before the start of the finals.  You can get a look at the undersides of all the cars, designs, weight placements and perhaps look really cool in front of your son for coming up with an awesome design!  Enjoy!


Pinewood Derby Cars

The Winner's Circle!

Do You Have Any Pinewood Derby Racing Tips?


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