Design Tips
The possibilities are endless when it comes to picking a shape for your Pinewood Derby car. Before you begin, consider the following general guidelines:

  • Have your child draw a design on paper then cut it out and use it as a template. I use the paper with the little squares on it to make it easier for him.  Draw a side and top view on the paper by tracing around the block of wood. 
  • Keep the car a full seven inches. It has to do with the physics of velocity and length of travel of the weights. 
  • Use the full 2 3/4 inches (outside wheel to outside wheel) that the rules give you. This will allow the wheels to travel farther before hitting the center strip.
  • Avoid designs with a pointed nose. A pointed nose will make it difficult for your Pinewood Derby car to rest on the pin at the starting gate. It may also cause your Pinewood Derby car to get bumped around when the pin drops, and it can create problems for electronic timing systems.
  • Leave enough wood in the rear of the Pinewood Derby car so you can place additional weight there. You will end up placing most of the weight in the rear of the Pinewood Derby car.
  • Make the maximum weight. Your car should weigh as much as it’s allowed. In most races, a Pinewood Derby car’s weight is limited to 5 ounces. If your car weighs less than that, add coins or other weights.
  • Be sure that it is very clear which end of your Pinewood Derby car is the front and which end is the back. In many races, the race officials —- not you -— will actually place each Pinewood Derby car on the track. Sometimes the officials put the Pinewood Derby car on the track backward because they can’t tell which end is which.
  • Use your imagination. Be creative. Shape has the least to do with winning. A beaver driving a log or even a pickup truck is more interesting than a wedge and will be just as fast.
  •  Choose a design that allows the air to move over and around the Pinewood Derby car body in a smooth manner. Pinewood Derby cars with aerodynamic profiles go faster.