Pinewood Derby

Rules, example race video, idea book, and side projects during the race.

Pinewood Derby Rules

A pinewood derby is a race of wood cars build from an official BSA kit. The cars may be customized, but must follow a general set of rules, like staying less than 5oz in weight. The Etowah District publishes derby rules each year:

  1. The car must be Cub Scout made, but adults are encouraged to actively participate with their Cub Scout.
  2. The car must have been built in the current scout year. Cars made in previous years may not be raced.
  3. The car must be made from the official BSA Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Kit (#17006) using official BSA parts.
  4. The axle slots cannot be moved from the original locations relative to the ends of the car.
  5. The official BSA wheels must be rigidly attached in those slots with the nails from the original kit. Wheels may be sanded to remove ridges, but they may not be tapered or narrowed. The rolling surfaces of all four wheels must touch the track. If only three wheels touch the track, or if only the wheel edges touch the track, this provides an unfair advantage, and cannot be permitted. No wheel modifications will be allowed, i.e., “thinning, tapering, holes, shaving, etc.” except as expressly stated to remove mold flash. “Lathe type” turning of the wheels is not allowed. All detail marks must remain visible on the entire wheel.
  6. No wheel bearings, bushings, or washers of any type may be used.
  7. The maximum weight of the car may not exceed 5 ounces (or 141.75 grams). Scales will be available at registration so final adjustments can be made. The scale used at registration and the race will be the official scale.
  8. Dimensions for the finished car are as follows:
    • Width cannot exceed 2-34 inches (including wheels and axles).
    • Length cannot exceed 7 inches.
    • Ground clearance must be at least 38 inches.
    • Height cannot exceed 3 inches, to clear the timing device.
    • Minimum width of the car where the axles are inserted into the body must be 1-34 inches.
  9. All cars will be weighed and measured at registration and must pass inspection in order to race.
  10. The Volunteer Chairman in charge of the event will have the final authority to determine eligibility to race.
  11. Added accessories such as windshields, driver, etc., are permitted from any source and may be used as long as width, length, and weight restrictions are met. Accessories must be permanently attached. No loose material of any kind (such as lead shot) is allowed in or on cars.
  12. Hubcaps or any other material may not be installed on the wheels in such a way as to hold the dry lubricant against the axle.
  13. The car may not have any type of springs or any type of self-propelling or starting devices.
  14. Cars must belong to a currently registered Tiger, Cub, or Boy Scout.
  15. If during the race, a car leaves the track, runs out of its lane, interferes with another car, loses an axle, etc., the heat will be rerun. If the same car gets into trouble on the second run, the contestant loses that race. Lubrication of any type may not be applied after the car is registered, this includes during repairs.
  16. Cars with wet paint will not be accepted at registration.
  17. Only dry powdered lubricant will be used.
  18. Participants are responsible for providing any tools or materials to make any adjustments before or during the race.

Example Derby

Extra Parts

Hobby Lobby has extra parts for your car, like tungsten weights and decals, and a how-to book on building pinewood derby cars. Search their website for “pinecar”, “pinewood”, or “revell”.

If you’re handy with a drill, you might save some money by drilling holes for lead fishing weights instead of using specialized “derby”-branded weights. Shot weights are particularly suitable for inserting inside a car. The 14 oz drop shot weights at Academy fit perfectly in a 1/4in drill hole.

lead cylender drop shot weight

If you have wood floors, you may also have a tube of wood filler laying around. Elmer’s makes a wood filler you may find at Hobby Lobby or Lowe’s.

How-to Books

Activities during the race

Clothespin Racer Neckerchief

Slide Materials

  • Spring-type clothes pins
  • PVC pipe cut into 38-inch lengths, or pipe cleaners; if using PVC pipe, 34-inch diameter
  • Small, black craft beads
  • Markers and/or paint
  • Glue (something that dries pretty quick) - hot glue, tacky glue


Take apart the spring-type clothespin.

If using a pipe cleaner, fold it in half and insert it between the two halves, where the spring was. Both ends of the pipe cleaner should be equal length and should come out of the back side of the car. No pipe cleaner stem should show on the front side of the car. Glue the stem in place. Glue the flat sides of the clothes pin together. The pipe cleaner can be wound around the neckerchief to form a slide.

Use small black beads as the wheels and glue them on the sides of the car, the front and back, as “wheels.”

Optionally, color or paint the clothespin. Using gloves to wipe paint on may be cleaner than letting the kids glob paint on with a brush.

Places to buy a car kit

First! Ask your pack if they provide a car kit for you as part of your dues.

Jefferson Scout Shop

Lawrenceville Scout Shop

Outside World Outfitters

Check the far back, right corner of the store. They have a mini scout shop, including pinewood derby kits.

See also