Parents’ Guide to the 2012
Basalt Cub Scout Pack 242 Pinewood Derby
The Pinewood Derby is a very exciting event for our boys and one of the best-attended events of the entire scouting year. It has also been a traditional scouting event for untold years. This event provides the boys with an opportunity to work with their hands to create a car of their own design (with a little help from mom or dad) which they then get to ‘race’ against the other boys in their den. If they’re lucky, they may even get to ‘race’ against other winning cars to determine the overall Pack ‘champion.’
Competition is a fact of life in our society, and in some ways the friendly competition which our boys experience with the Pinewood Derby serves to help prepare them for the inevitable competition they will face throughout life. At the same time, we do not wish to emphasize the value of winning over the value of participating. Yes, per tradition we will have small trophies for the top 3 places for both car design and track performance. However, what we’d really like to see is a bunch of evenly-matched cars built largely by the boys with a few ‘lucky’ ones becoming the winners. There are all kinds of suggestions and tricks for ‘souping up’ Pinewood Derby cars available for the looking on the internet, but we would prefer that they be generally ignored as they tend to create an unfair advantage over cars that have been built right from the kit (come race time it’s often obvious which cars are ‘souped up’). The boys deserve to have a level playing field.
In recent years we have also had some boys who have been very disappointed about not taking home a trophy, and we’d like to do what we can to minimize future disappointments. It’s great when the boys are able to enjoy the Pinewood Derby experience without any "must win" feelings. You can help by letting your boy do most of the work on his car (if you would like to make a car yourself to race in an Open Division, see the Cubmaster about getting a kit), by playing down the need to win, and by emphasizing the value of simply participating in a fun group event while acknowledging there will be a few ‘lucky’ boys who will be recognized with awards.
To promote fairness and a fun atmosphere, we have a few
Material: Race cars shall be constructed for this event from the parts contained in the Official Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Kit (referred to below as the kit) as given by the Cubmaster. Materials from the kit may be supplemented but not replaced.
Weight: Racecars may weigh no more than five (5) ounces (total weight) as determined on the official scales during race day inspection.
Wheels and Axles: The car shall roll on the wheels and axles from the kit. The wheels shall not be altered significantly (example: light sanding with fine-grit sandpaper is allowed, but 'shaving' the wheels or making them thinner is not. See additional information below) and turn about the axle nails from the kit. The axle nails shall be firmly affixed to the wood of the car body within the manufactured axle grooves provided in the wood block. The outside surface of the axle head (the non-contact surface) may not be changed substantially, such as, by polishing. No shims may be used in any way. It must be readily apparent to the judges that the wheels and the axles from the kit are being used (i.e. the axles and axle grooves must not be covered or filled in).
Size: Racecars may be no longer than 7 inches, nor wider than 2 3/4 (2.75) inches, nor taller than 3 inches. (Underside clearance of at least 3/8 (0.375) inches and inside wheel to wheel clearance of at least 1 3/4 (1.75) inches is recommended, so that the car will run on the racetrack. Adequate clearance is the responsibility of the racecar builder.)
Weights and Attachment: Weight may be added to the car and will be considered part of the car for purposes of all measurements. "Weight" is considered to be any material on the car that is not provided in the kit. All weight must be securely fastened to the car, e.g. by permanent glue, nails or screws, but not by "sticky substances", e.g. tape, or tack spray. Weights shall be passive, i.e. non-moveable, non-magnetic, non-electric, non-sticky, etc.
Wheels: Wheel treatment (hub and tread smoothing and polishing) may not result in substantial removal of mass nor in reducing the tread (track contact) width from the original kit wheels. Wheel tread surface must be cylindrical. The words "Official B.S.A. Made in U.S.A." and other lettering on the wheels shall remain intact and clearly visible to the inspector. Some of the original "tread marks" on the wheel face must be intact, i.e. apparent to the inspector. No "knife edging" of the wheels will be acceptable.
Unacceptable Construction: The following may NOT be used in conjunction with the wheels or axles: hubcaps, washers, inserts, sleeves, and bearings.
Gravity Powered: The racecar may not be constructed or treated in such a way that the track's starting mechanism imparts momentum to the car. (For instance, this provision disqualifies cars with sticky substances on the front of the car and protrusions, which may catch on the starting pin.)
Lubricants: Dry lubricants for the wheels and axles such as graphite powder are allowed. Wet lubricants such as oils, WD40, etc. are not allowed.
Other: The entire car must stage behind the starting pin. The car body may have no moving parts.
At the Pinewood Derby:
Check-in Inspection: At the event, all cars must be checked-in. The check-in process will consist of a visual inspection by Inspection Judges (The Pack Den Leaders and designated helpers) and a weighing. Cars which are substantially under-weight may be withdrawn from check-in, weight added (there will be some hot glue guns, weights, and at least one test scale available to help trim cars to the approximate maximum weight) and re-presented for check-in. The weight shown on the check-in weight scale shall be deemed to be the official race weight, regardless of possible differences with weights shown on test scales. The Inspection Judges are authorized to evaluate each car's adherence to the rules. Any car deemed to have been constructed without following the rules may be subject to mandatory modifications or be disqualified. We want every boy in our Pack to have a fun and exciting Pinewood Derby experience, which will happen when we all just follow the rules! Once a car has completed the check-in process, it will be taken to the judging/race staging table and may not be modified.
Design Judging: Each Den will have its cars judged for design creativity (here is where to use the internet – for design ideas!) by independent judges (probably the Basalt Police Department). Small trophies will be presented to the top 3 cars in each den. Cars whose designs are obviously the work of parents will probably not receive top scores.
Racing: Each Den will race separately. Cars will race a minimum of 6 times, so they need to be somewhat durable. Boy Scouts will conduct race starts, and cars will race in a different lane each time. To provide the most accurate results possible, an electronic finish line will be used and will be supervised by a Finish Judge. In the event of any malfunction or failure of the electronic finish line all decisions of the Finish Judge shall be final. Small trophies will be presented to the top 3 cars in each den. The top car from each den will be given an opportunity to race against the top car from each of the other dens in a final set of races to determine a ‘fastest overall car.’
There will also be an Open division of cars. Parents, brothers/sisters of Cub Scouts, and Boy Scouts are all eligible to enter. These cars will be subject to the same rules and check-in process as the Cub Scouts, and the Open Division winner will be eligible to complete in the Fastest Overall races along with the fastest car from each Den.
The Pinewood Derby is intended to be an exciting event characterized by a spirit of fairplay and friendly competition. As parents and leaders, we owe it to our boys to DO OUR BEST (scout motto!) to ensure that every boy has an opportunity to have a positive experience at this event.