Pack 653 Pinewood Derby
Information and Official Rules
For those unfamiliar with the Pinewood Derby, it is an optional activity (with very high participation),
where with the help of an adult partner, a boy will transform a small block of pine wood into a
miniature race car and have a blast racing it down a track with nothing but the help of gravity. This
annual tradition has been a Cub Scout favorite for over 50 years. The Pinewood Derby is probably the
most exciting event of the year for the boys and parents alike. It is great way for the boys to bond with
their partner and for the boys to be creative, have a LOT of fun, and see what can be done with
something they make.
The derby begins in the morning and runs through mid-afternoon. There are seven races – five for
the five ranks, an overall finals, and an open competition for siblings. The schedule is staggered by
rank with final races at the end of day. Awards will be presented to winners at the end of each
division. Winning cars from each race will be held for the overall finals with the exception of the
open competition race.
Good sportsmanship and fair play in accordance with the rules is expected. Please take the time to
review ALL of the rules. This will help make the experience much more enjoyable for you and your son.
No one wants to have problems on race day – if you have questions, please ask. Please set good examples for our boys by helping adhere to all rules. Have fun and do your best!
1. Each scout may enter only one car that must be built new for this year's race. No cars or parts of cars
from previous years may be used. No pre-made store bought cars are allowed. Only official Pinewood
Derby kits can be used. Each Scout should build his own car with his parents' assistance where
2. Only race officials will be permitted in the track area.
3. Any participant (including parents) has the right to appeal to the Rules Committee for an interpretation
of these rules. The Rules Committee, by majority vote, will be the final judge of these rules.
4. Good sportsmanship and behavior is expected. Race Officials may ask anyone not following this rule
to leave. Remember that the focus of this event is not to win at any cost, but for each Scout to DO HIS
From past years, some key problem areas to look out for include:
Weight – Get as close to 5.00 ounces (141grams) as you can without going over AT ALL.
Bottom Clearance - Do not place weights under car since it may damage the track, slow your car,
and cause problems for everyone.
Illegal wheels and axles – Only official Scout wheels with “BSA PINEWOOD DERBY” molded on
the outside and “OFFICIAL BSA MADE IN USA” molded on the inside are permitted. Only the
Official Boy Scout Grand Prix nails may be used as axles.
Chisholm Trail Invitational Pinewood Derby Rules
1. Maximum overall width (including wheels and axles) shall not exceed 2 ¾ (2.750) inches.
2. Minimum width between wheels shall be 1 ¾ (1.750) inches at the axles.
3. Minimum clearance between bottom of car and track shall be 3/8 (0.375) inch.
a. Please be sure to check that your car meets or exceeds the minimum clearance of 0.375
inches. It will be very difficult to alter your car the day of the race to correct the clearance.
b. Cars that do not meet minimum clearance will not be allowed on the track as they may
damage the track.
4. Maximum length shall not exceed 7.100 inches.
5. Maximum height between the wheels and the top of the car shall not exceed 3.5 inches
6. No part of the vehicle may extend beyond the starting gate (a rod in the center of the lane).
7. All dimensions will be verified by the official templates.
The weight of the finished car shall not exceed 5.00 ounces (141 grams). Weight materials must be solid
– tungsten, lead, zinc, etc. No liquid weights; no mercury. Weights must be placed on the car such that
they will not interfere with other cars or damage the track.
Scales will be calibrated in grams to a 5 ounce reference weight during registration. There may be
some variation from 141 grams based on scale accuracy. The reading of the official race scale will be
Details such as steering wheel, driver, spoiler, decals, painting, etc. are permissible as long as all of the
size and weight specifications are met. Be creative and have fun! Paint and glues must be dry when
submitted for inspection or the car will not be accepted.
Pre-registration of all cars is required; this allows us to enter all cars in the race management software in
advance to save a lot of time the day of the race. A number will be assigned and provided on race day at
You may decorate your car with any numbering or designations you like however the only official number
will be the one assigned on race day.
1. Only official Boy Scout Grand Prix wheels may be used. “BSA PINEWOOD DERBY” is molded on the
2. Wheel bearings and/or bushings are prohibited.
3. Three wheels must touch the surface, Four wheels are required.
4. Wheels can be liberally lubricated on the inside diameter as well as the outside with a dry lubricant.
Wet lubricant used on vehicles will automatically disqualify any car.
5. Varnishing or hardening the wheels with a chemical coating or penetrant is prohibited.
6. No lightening of the wheels by removing material on the inside or by “spoking”, no holes in the flat
surface face of the tire, no thinning or narrowing of the wheel, no grooving the center faces of the
wheel (double V or cupping), no pointing of the wheel (single V or bulging). The lettering and mold
number must be visible on the inside of the wheel.
7. Wheels may be sanded or shaved with a knife (NOT RESHAPED) to remove the molding seams from
the tread and other manufacturing flaws. The tread markings must be visible on the outside of the
wheel. WHEELS MUST REMAIN FLAT ACROSS THE ENTIRE FACE. Wheels must maintain a flat
face width of 0.320 inches minimum around the entire wheel.
8. Wheels must maintain a minimum diameter of 1.170 inches (nominal dimensions of BSA wheels are
1.184 inches). Wheels in question will be checked with the official tire template and calipers.
9. No “hub caps” or wheel disks allowed.
1. Only the Official Boy Scout Grand Prix nails may be used as axles.
2. Unlimited modifications to the nails are allowed.
3. Two nails must align with each other to create one front and one rear axle.
4. Free floating washers on the axles are prohibited.
5. The car cannot ride on any type of springs or suspension-like device.
6. The car must be freewheeling with no starting device or other means of propulsion.
7. The distance between the front and rear axles may be changed from that of the standard derby car kit
8. Axles must be oriented to where at least three of the four wheels flatly touch the track. During
registration, this feature will be checked with the templates.
1. Only dry powdered lubricants such as graphite or Teflon may be used. Graphite must be applied
before inspection and no graphite may be applied after the car has been accepted.
2. The car may not be lubricated or otherwise modified after it has passed inspection.
1. Pre-race Registration will be held on Friday before the race.
2. RACERS WHO FAIL TO REGISTER ON FRIDAY NIGHT WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO RACE ON
SATURDAY. There will be no race day registration.
3. Each participant must bring their car to the inspection table. Each car must pass inspection by the
official inspection committee before it may compete. Car owners will be informed of any violations and
given an opportunity to modify the car to meet these rules.
4. A pit crew will be available at registration on Friday night to assist with modification of cars to meet
5. If a car cannot be modified to meet requirements at Registration, the owner may take the car home
on Friday night to correct any problems, and then bring the car back on Saturday morning. The car
must be successfully re-inspected on Saturday morning prior to the first race.
6. The inspectors will disqualify those cars which do not meet these rules at any time during the race.
7. After inspection, the car will be registered and placed on pit row. From this point forward, the scout
cannot handle the car except to, if necessary, make repairs. Only race officials can handle the cars
during competition. If a repair must be made then the car must be re-inspected.
1. The starter/derby coordinator will announce each Division when it is time for their cars to race.
Names of racers will be displayed on a screen at the front of the room.
2. An electronic timer will be used at the finish line. If the timer malfunctions, the race will be rerun.
3. If a car leaves its lane, the heat will be run again. If the same car leaves its lane a second time the car
will not be allowed to rerun in the 3rd rerun and will be given the default maximum time as defined by
4. If a car suffers a mechanical problem, i.e. loses an axle, breaks a wheel, etc. and a repair can be
accomplished within 5 minutes, the heat will be run again. If not, the car will automatically lose the
5. All repairs must be done in the pit area. Any car that has gone through repair must be re-inspected
before re-entering the race. Dry lubrication may only be reapplied during or after repairs under the
supervision of race officials and only to the area being repaired.
6. Advancing or winning cars will be announced shortly after completion of all heats in that division.
7. Any protests to a heat must be given prior to the next heat being run so as not to impact the
standings or cause confusion and complications with other racers. All protests will be discussed
with the race officials and their determination will be final. This is a purely voluntary responsibility
and your understanding will be appreciated. The officials will do their best to be fair to all the boys
8. When a car has been eliminated from competition, it will be placed in a designated area marked
9. The three winning cars for each division will be held for the overall division.
1. Each Cub Scout who enters will receive a participation patch or similar recognition.
2. Awards will be given for the fastest cars as follows:
a . Each car’s placement in its division will be determined by its total time for all heats run.
b. If there is a tie at the end of the heats in any of the top 3 places, cars that are tied will race
head-to-head to determine the winner. Judges will determine the best lanes to use.
c. 1st, 2nd & 3rd will be awarded to the fastest cars in each division – Tiger Cubs, Wolf, Bear,
Webelos I, and Webelos II, and open divisions
d. 1st, 2nd & 3rd will be awarded to the overall fastest cars among the race-off among the top
fifteen cars – the top three from each of the five ranks.
3. Winners must be present to receive the awards or racer will be disqualified and award will be given
to the next fastest car.
Car Construction Tips
1. Weight: Weight is the single biggest factor for having a fast car. Car weight is right on the
maximum: 5.000 oz. – not over or under. Heavier cars go faster.
a. Weight placement: Car weight should be placed in the rear so the fore/aft balance point is about
1-1/4" to 1-1/2” in front of the rear axles. This applies to both long and short wheel base cars.
Weights placed too far back could make the car unstable and inconsistent. Cars with the center of
gravity moved to the rear also move the weight higher up the track.
b. Weight types: Local hobby stores and online stores (like MaximumVelocity.com) have a wide
variety of sizes and shapes of weights. Here’s a list of weights and the advantages/disadvantages.
2. Lubrication: Lubrication is the second biggest factor for a fast car. Lubricate liberally the wheels,
axles and the side of the body. Recommend graphite-moly lube, which can be bought at any local or
on-line hobby store. Work the lubricant into the plastic and wood surfaces at places where the moving
3. Axles (Nails): The axles should be free of all burs, sanded and polished until smooth or mirror-like.
This can be accomplished by setting up a power drill in a vise. Remove burrs from the nail and nail
head using a fine-toothed file, sand using very fine sandpaper then polish using emery cloth or a
polishing compound. Unlimited modifications are allowed on the axles.
a. Glue axles: Glue the axles (nails) into the body slots with epoxy or a hot glue gun to keep them
from slipping out. (We have had cars in the past where the wheels and axles came off in the middle
of a race, which can be pretty embarrassing.)
4. Wheels: Follow closely the allowable modifications for the wheels. Important aspects for a fast car
are having the wheels smooth, flat, and straight. Modifications are limited and no intentional thinning
of the tread thickness from the inside is allowed.
a. Wheel base: (Distance between axles) make it as long as possible but not to exceed overall length
that the rules allow. This will improve stability, tracking and speed.
b. Bad wheels: If you receive a set of wheels with your Pine Wood Derby that are either off-center,
misaligned or out of balance, several places on-line as well as the Scout shop at IH-35 & Parmer
also sells just BSA Wheels and Axles. As noted in the “Wheels” section, the only style of wheels
allowed has “BSA PINEWOOD DERBY” written on the outside of the wheel.
c. Alignment. A straight car will run faster than one that pulls to one side. To check alignment, roll
the cars across a flat surface such as a glass table. Set up the wheels as flat as possible. Canting
the axles or nails to the front, back, up or down will slow the car down.
5. Make the car sturdy: There have been several extremely fast cars that have broken and either
could not get fixed in the allotted time or, after having been fixed, did not run nearly as fast as
before. Advancing cars can easily run over 20 individual races.
6. Aerodynamics: Although aerodynamics plays a very small role in the speed of cars, every little bit
helps. Common designs include a very thin and flat shape or a wedge shape. The front and rear
should be rounded.
7. Ornamentation: Make any ornamentation sturdy. In past events, several cars had pieces break
off during competition. Local hobby stores also have a wide variety of decals, stickers, fins, roll
bars, engines, etc. The sky is the limit so be as creative as possible.