Making Pinewood Derby Memories


Pinewood Derby…More Than Just a Car
By Joe Gargiulo of Pinewood Pro, author of the Pinewood Derby Fast and Furious Speed Secrets

I remember the excitement of building a Pinewood Derby car with my dad when I was a young Cub Scout. Dad listened carefully to my wild ideas and then helped me build the car of my dreams. It seemed to take forever to shape, sand, and prep my car, but I didn’t mind at all. This was “Dad time,” and since there were four of us kids, “Dad time” was hard to come by. We barely finished the car the night before the race. I named it the Flying Blue Marlin, after my favorite fish.

On race day I was an excited little boy, even though, race after race, my car barely made it to the bottom of the track. I was disappointed, but I was still proud of my cool little car. I treasured that car and the time spent with my dad. I lost my dad when I was 22, so those memories are priceless.

I lost track of my car over the years and always thought it had been thrown away. Forty years later, while cleaning out my parents’ house, I was amazed to find it in the attic on top of a heap of things and in perfect condition, as if my father had placed it there for me to find. It was a surreal moment.

When my son came along, I got to relive my cherished childhood Pinewood Derby experiences with him. I treasured the time with Steven, just as I had the time with my dad so many years ago.

Pinewood Derby Books

Buy one pinewood derby book and get a free Pinewood Derby Workbook and Logbook!

Get the secrets to the coolest and fastest pinewood derby cars! Our selection of pinewood derby books will be the only reference you need to cross the finish line. Combining STEAM education and family-bonding, these guides will teach you the insider tips and tricks from the pinewood derby weights to car designs. 

 

The History of Pinewood Derby

For 60 years, millions of kids have learned sportsmanship and woodworking by building miniature cars. California Cub Master, Donald Murphy, founded the pinewood derby in 1953. Inspired by his employer, North American Aviation, which sponsored Soap Box Derby races, Donald presented his idea for carving and racing miniature cards to his son’s boy scout troop. After the first race, the Pinewood Derby became a nationwide program adopted by the Boyscouts of America the following year.

Today’s pinewood derby rules and events might be larger in scale but they still operate very similar to Donald’s original idea. On a summer day in New York City’s Time Square, more than 250 cub scouts and their families from across the country set up to race their handmade cars on the annual World Championship’s Pinewood Derby track. Donald’s legacy still lives on!

Today’s pinewood derby rules and events might be larger in scale but they still operate very similar to Donald’s original idea. On a summer day in New York City’s Time Square, more than 250 cub scouts and their families from across the country set up to race their handmade cars on the annual World Championship’s Pinewood Derby track. Donald’s legacy still lives on! 

Get inspired by these Pinewood Derby creations:

Flying Pizza Car 
“We found a high-res photo of a pizza and printed it on photo paper.  Under the hood, it’s a wedge woodblock with weights at the back and graphite in the axles.” – @Thaddeus.Scott and his son 

The Titanic 
@Dweierholt’s son had a Titanic obsession for several months so he instantly knew he wanted a titanic derby car. It won “most creative design” in his cub scout race!  

Working on Aerodynamics
Tori had her father worked to get the body aerodynamics for her first pinewood derby for Girl Scouts just right. She got 3rd place!

Pinewood Derby Design Resources

For more information on building your Pinewood Derby car, check out our Scroll Saw Magazine Team’s information:

  • Making the Best Pinewood Derby Car Blog: Featuring three basic speed principles from choosing pinewood derby weights, maximizing potential energy, aligning the wheels, and a step-by-step video.
  • Pinewood Derby Book Collection: From making your pinewood derby car faster to pinewood derby patterns, our assortment of books will be your ultimate resource.