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Cub Scout Pack 85
(Armada, Michigan)
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Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby is one of the most popular events in Cub Scouting.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Pinewood Derby.

What is a Pinewood Derby race?

The Pinewood Derby is a fun Cub Scout racing event held in many packs. During the event, Cub Scouts race small, driverless wooden cars down a sloped track. The cars are powered only by gravity. With an adult’s help, each Pinewood Derby car is built by a Cub Scout using a kit that includes a wooden block, plastic wheels and metal axles. Trophies or medals are often awarded for the fastest car and the best designs.

Who invented the Pinewood Derby?

The first Pinewood Derby race was organized by Cubmaster Don Murphy on May 15, 1953, at Pack 280C’s Scout House in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Other packs in the Los Angeles area held races that year, too. By 1954, officials at the Boy Scouts of America heard about the event and began to spread the word, and Boys’ Life magazine published Pinewood Derby plans in its October 1954 issue. That was the first reference to the Pinewood Derby in any BSA publication. It wasn’t long before packs across the country made the Pinewood Derby a part of their annual calendar.

How do you weigh a Pinewood Derby car?

Most packs will have an official weigh-in before a Pinewood Derby race to make sure that cars aren’t too heavy. You can use a kitchen scale or a postal scale to weigh your car while building it, but remember that scales can vary. So make sure you have an easy way to add or subtract weight during your pack’s weigh-in.

How much does a Pinewood Derby car weigh out of the box?

The official Pinewood Derby car weighs about 3.5 ounces without any modifications. The wooden block is about 3.3 ounces, and the wheels and axles add about 0.2 ounces.

Can you add weight to a Pinewood Derby car?

Yes, you will probably want to add additional weight to your Pinewood Derby car to make it go faster. Most packs allow cars to weigh a maximum of 5 ounces.

How do you add weight to a Pinewood Derby car?

There are various ways to add weight to your Pinewood Derby car. To preserve your car’s design, you may want to hollow out the wood and place extra weight inside the car’s body. You can also glue the weight to the top or bottom of the car. If you place the weight under your car, make sure to leave enough clearance so your car doesn’t rub on the track. Many tracks have a raised guide rail in the center of each lane. The Scout Shop and many craft stores sell Pinewood Derby weights, but you can also use fishing weights or coins to add additional weight to your car.

Where can I buy Pinewood Derby weights?

The Scout Shop and many craft stores (like Hobby Lobby or Michaels) sell Pinewood Derby weights. The weights come in various shapes, sizes and materials. Tungsten cubes, strips or putty are popular because tungsten is denser than many other metals. For a cheaper option, you can also use lead-free fishing weights, ball bearings or coins. Many packs don’t allow lead weights for safety reasons. If using lead, it must be fully sealed over/covered.

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