Start your "engines" in 2023!
History of the Derby
The first Pinewood Derby™ was held on May 15, 1953 at the Scout House in Manhattan Beach, California by Cub Scout Pack 280C (the present-day Pack 713). The concept was created by the Pack's Cubmaster Don Murphy, and sponsored by the Management Club at North American Aviation.
Murphy's son was too young to participate in the popular Soap Box Derby races, so he came up with the idea of racing miniature wood cars. The cars had the same gravity-powered concept as the full-size Soap Box Derby cars, but were much smaller and easier to build.
The Pinewood Derby™ had a sensational first year. Murphy and the Management Club of North American Aviation sent out thousands of brochures to anyone who requested more information. The idea spread rapidly, and competitions were held across the country, mainly with recreation departments and nonprofit organizations including the Los Angeles County Department of Recreation. Of all that early enthusiasm, however, only the Boy Scouts of America made it part of an official program. The National Director of Cub Scouting Service, O. W. (Bud) Bennett, wrote Murphy: "We believe you have an excellent idea, and we are most anxious to make your material available to the Cub Scouts of America." Within the year, the Boy Scouts of America adopted the Pinewood Derby™ for use in all Cub Scout packs.
In its October 1954 issue, Boys' Life (now Scouts' Life) publicized the event and offered plans for the track and a car, which featured "four wheels, four nails, and three blocks of wood."
2023 Cub Scout Pack 317 Official Pinewood Derby™ Rules
Pinewood Derby™ Event Races
Official Race: Participation in this race requires Scouts to follow all rules and guidelines for the Pinewood Derby™, using the pinewood kit that was provided by the Pack.
Classic Race: This is a race that allows Scouts to use their pinewood kits from previous years to “race against themselves” and allowing the Scout to see how their car-making skills have progressed during their Cub Scouting tenure.
Renegade Race: This is a “no rules” competition that is open to all Scouts and their family members. Additional pinewood kits for this race can be purchased from one of the Scout Shops.
Length, Width, and Clearance:
The maximum overall length shall not exceed 7 inches.
The maximum overall width (including wheels and axles) shall not exceed 2¾ inches.
The minimum width between the wheels shall be 1¾ inches. This will ensure that the car will clear the center guide strip on the track.
The minimum clearance between the bottom of the car body and the bottom of wheels or track surface shall be 3/8-inch. This will ensure that the car will clear the center guide strip on the track.
The wheelbase (distance and location between the front and rear axles) may not be changed from the kit body.
Weight and Appearance:
Weight shall not exceed 5 ounces (142 grams). The reading of the official scale will be considered final.
The car may be hollowed out and built up to the maximum weight by the addition of wood or metal only - - provided the material is securely build into the body or firmly affixed to it.
No liquids or loose materials of any kind are permitted in or on the car.
Details such as steering wheel, driver, spoiler, decals, painting, and interior details are permissible as long as these details do not exceed the maximum length, width, or weight specifications.
Cars with wet paint and/or glue will not be accepted.
All attachments must be firmly attached prior to the official weigh-in.
Wheels and Axles:
Wheels and axles shall be only as provided in the Official Grand Prix Pinewood Derby™ Kit.
Wheels may be slightly sanded to smooth out molding imperfections the tread area.
This light sanding is the only modification allowed.
Beveling, tapering, thin sanding, wafering or lathe-turning or the wheels is prohibited.
Axles may not be altered in any way except for polishing.
Wheel bearings, washers, and bushings are prohibited. Dry graphite is the only lubricant allowed.
The car shall not ride on any type of springs.