BSA South Florida Council
Derby Car Design Tips
Designing and Building Your Car
You don’t have to strive for the fastest Pinewood Derby car to have fun competing in your Pinewood Derby. But if you and a helpful adult are willing to put in the extra time and effort, these tips are for you.
Create the Design: Draw the outline of your Pinewood Derby car on a sheet of paper, cut it out and attach it to your block of wood. Remember, a rectangular car is not an aerodynamic design. The most basic aerodynamic design is a simple wedge. If you don’t have time to design a complex car, a wedge will work just fine. Click here to download a pinewood Derby car template PDF to help you create the design
Rough Cut the Design: Use a coping saw to cut out the rough shape of your Pinewood Derby car. You can also ask a responsible adult to make these cuts using a power tool.
Shape Your Car: Use sand paper to smooth your car’s edges and shape it to your design. An adult can also use a rotary tool or other tool to help you.
Sand and Paint the Pinewood Derby Car: Make it smooth to reduce friction and paint an awesome design to make it look great. Click here for tips on painting your Pinewood Derby Car to give it a shiny finish
Install Axles and Wheels: Make sure they are aligned perfectly straight. You can test the alignment of your axles by pushing your car across a smooth floor or table. It should roll smoothly in a straight line. Click here to learn about polishing Pinewood Derby axles and wheels to reduce friction.
Make a Three-Wheeler: Raise one wheel about 1/16 inch higher so it never actually touches the track. Less friction = more speed. Rules vary from pack to pack, so make sure to check your pack’s Pinewood Derby rules to make sure three wheeler cars are allowed in your race
Extend the Wheelbase: The front and rear wheels should be as far apart as possible. Again, make sure this is allowed in your race.
More 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:
BSA Cub Scout Pack 615. Est. 1987