Pinewood Derby Guidelines

The basic rule

The car must be the product of a parent/child partnership and be built for this race. Some parents like to create awesome hot rods with amazing build techniques. That is fine! Tricked out parent cars may be run in the “friends, siblings, and parents race”, which will happen right after the awards are handed out for the Scout race. Please purchase separate kits for parent cars.

These are disallowed at the Scout race but may be run at the “friends, siblings, and parents race”:

  • Cars made for a previous race.
  • A car borrowed from a relative or friend.
  • A car made by a professional.
  • A car where the Scout did not contribute according to his ability.

Length, width, and weight

Required specifications for all cars:

  • At most 7” long
  • At most 2 ¾” wide, including wheels and axles
  • At most 3” high from bottom of wheels to highest part
  • Weigh no more than 5 ounces

It is strongly recommended that the wheels be at least 1 ¾” apart and the car have at least ⅜” ground clearance. If the car has less than either of these clearances, it may not clear the guide rail.

Required physical details

You must use a kit made or licensed by Boy Scouts of America. This is normally the Official Pinewood Derby® Car Kit . Other kits may be used only if the BSA seal is on the front, such as the Revell or Dremel kits sold at Lowe’s.

You may supplement the kit with parts from other sources. These other parts may only serve cosmetic or weight-addition purposes; they cannot replace the the wheels, axles (nails), or wood block. All cosmetic details and weights must be firmly affixed to the car and may not move during the race.

No starting devices. Gravity must be the only force that causes the car to move.

The car may not use the track’s starting pin to gain speed. For example, cars cannot have sticky substances or protrusions on the front that catch the starting pin. All cars must only rest against the starting pin.

Cars must sit entirely behind the starting pin. Protrusions may not sit in front of the pin. (This would give an unfair advantage at the end.)

Pinewood derby cars resting against starting pin

Wheels, axles, and lubrication

Only use wheels and nail axles supplied by Boy Scouts of America. This includes the ones in your kit or spare ones licensed by Boy Scouts of America (these are probably also available at local stores like Lowe’s or Michael’s).

Use the axles that are pre-cut into the wood block. They are 4 7/16” apart. Do not cut different axles.

You may not alter the shape or dimensions of the axles or wheels. For example, you may not do these to the wheels: bevel, taper, thin out, wafer, groove, ridge, make into points, or lathe turn. These are permitted:

  • You may modify the shape of the nail head at the end of the axle for the purpose of altering its interface with the wheel.
  • It’s OK to polish or sand the wheels and axles to smooth them out.

The wheels and dry lubricant are the only objects allowed on the nail axles. No bearings, washers, springs, or bushings. No oil, silicone sprays, or other wet lubricants may be used. Dry graphite is the typical and recommended lubricant.

Race day inspection

The official inspection team will inspect each car at check in. They can only permit cars to race when they meet all rules.

Only race officials may handle the cars after check in. No further lubrication or any other adjustments will be permitted after check in.

Race operational rules

The track has four lanes. Each car races on all four lanes. The score is based on the sum of the time to go down all four lanes. Winning margins can be tiny, under a tenth of a second.

The track has a digital readout on the finish line. A computer program captures the time to complete the race.

If a car jumps off the track or interferes with another car, the heat will be run again. If the same problem happens a second time, the car may be disqualified from the race.

Technical problems or other situations sometimes happen that are beyond the control of race officials. Race officials will do their best to provide a time-efficient, fair resolution.

The event

The following is what typically happens when you come to Pack 862’s Pinewood derby:

  1. Registration: You will sign in and get your race number. The number will be stuck on your car. The computer uses this number.
  2. Car photo: Your child can get a photo with him and his car in front of a checkered flag.
  3. Inspection: Your car will be scrutinized by race officials for the above rules. If your car has a problem, you may make adjustments on the spot and have it re-inspected. Limited supplies may be available.
  4. Scouts’ favorite vote: Scouts will be given an opportunity to select their favorite car.
  5. The race: For all Scouts, this is where they will race.
  6. Awards: Recognize winners.
  7. Friends, parents, and siblings race: After the main race.