Top Tips to Build A Pinewood Derby Car

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Is it already that time of the year for the Cub Scouts to start building their derby cars for the race? 

These driverless miniature cars are designed by the Cub Scouts alone, but they may need some adult supervision.

Pinewood Derby car is usually made of wood, kits containing pine woods, plastic, metal pins, etc. The popularity of this sport has inspired other groups to conduct the same type of event.

Building a cool and fast derby car is important if your little one is part of the Cub Scout. Building the fastest car will help them win medals and shape their creative skills.

So, here are a few inside tips that will help your kid design the fastest and the most incredible-looking Pinewood Derby car for the next derby race.

Design the Car

Start with designing the car on a piece of paper. The size should be similar to that of a block of wood. If you need your car to be faster, make the frontend narrower to create better airflow.

Designing will give your kid a rough picture of what the derby car should look like in the end. 

While designing the car, ensure that it does not have a pointed nose. A derby car with a sharp nose would not rest on the pin at the starting gate. Moreover, it may also get bumped around if the pin drops, affecting the timing.

Maximize the Weight

A lot has been talked about the science behind the use of weight in a Pinewood Derby car. The derby car is operated by gravitational force. Hence the car must weigh its maximum to boost its speed.

For this, add sufficient wood to the rear end to add more weight. A heavier car will naturally speed your kid’s derby car amongst the rest.

However, limit the weight as per the pack rules, and in most cases, the weight is limited to five ounces. If you do not want to disrupt the design of the overall car, then you can add extra wood inside the car or at the bottom.

Provide Lubrication

The derby cars need enough lubrication to run smoothly through the tracks. Usually, lubricant like dry graphite is used on the car axles and wheels.

Hence, help out your kid to generously lubricate all the friction points of the car. Besides graphite, you can even include molybdenum or tungsten disulfide (WS2) powder.

But why only dry lubricants? Most scout packs allow dry lubricants since liquid can cause a mess on the tracks. Dry lubricants are readily available in craft, hardware, or Scouts’ shops.

Paint and Design

There are instances when your child picks a rather complicated design for the derby car. Unless you are a trained artist, it is advisable to keep it simple. Moreover, you can even go through a few designs of race cars for reference.

It is advisable to use high-quality paints for perfect coverage and extraordinary shine for derby cars. You can even use fluorescent or glow-in-the-dark color to give the car a unique look.

It will give an edge over the other derby cars on the track. However, to get the best result, start with the use of a primer before painting the car with your kid’s favorite color.

But, how do you achieve an excellent finish for your painting? The use of a broad sponge can do the magic, it will give a smoother finish to the painting and thus provide a more professional look to the derby car.

Pro Tip: If your little one wants a more realistic version of the derby car, then floor wax is perfect. A floor wax offers a high finish to the car’s exterior and makes it look extra lustrous.


To make the derby car more pragmatic, you can add more detail to the car. These would include tail lights, mount headlights, running lights, etc.

Adding glow and black lights are the latest trends of the Pinewood Derby races. Hence, paying attention to these extra features will make your kid’s car the coolest of the lot.  But be sure to check the Cub Scout pack rules to make sure lights are allowed.

Preparing the Wheel

Before heading to the race, ensure that the wheels are ready to hit the track. Moreover, you can even polish the wheel to reduce friction as per the track rules.

If you are looking for new and improved wheels, you can even reach out to vendors near you to improve the car’s performance.

Wrapping Up

More than winning, encourage Cub Scouts to have maximum fun while building the car. Having the fastest car is great, but having a cool car is a whole lot of fun altogether.

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