My name is Joe Gargiulo, the founder of Pinewood Pro. I live in Trumbull, CT with my wife Nancy, son, Steven, and two daughters. Steven started in Cub Scout Pack 468 and became an Eagle Scout with Troop 65. He and I have been involved with Cub Scouts and PinewoodDerby car racing since he was a Tiger Cub in 1994.
During my son's Cub Scout years, I managed the Pinewood Derby race for Pack 468. The website idea came from my experience managing our Cub Scout Pack pinewood derby race coupled with our success at winning races. I started Pinewood Pro in 1999 to help others build their pinewood derby car. That same year, I wrote our #1 best seller, Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets, that has helped thousands of people build winning pinewood derby cars. I beam when someone sends an email with their pinewood derby story of how our products helped them.
We are very proud to be involved with Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Pinewood Derby racing by volunteering our time, making yearly donations to BSA and local cub scout packs and helping people through Pinewood Pro. We also are happy to be involved with other pinewood (a.k.a. pine car or Grand Prix) organizations such as AWANA Grand Prix, Royal Rangers, Shape N Race Derby, Kub Kar Rally, Girl Scouts Grand Prix and WIRL. With your support (link to our site!) we will continue the Pinewood Pro tradition of helping others design, build and race winning pinewoodderby cars.
My Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Story
Yes, I was a Cub Scout. Cub Scout Pack 68 met in the St. Francis Church Hall in New Haven, CT. I still have many, many fond memories of my days as a Cub Scout. It was exciting, challenging and most of all fun to do the activities with my Father and friends. I had the added joy of being in a den with my brother, Henry (more on him later), and cousin, Jeffrey.
In those formative years, I realize that through Scouting I discovered my love of "building things" and figuring out how they worked. I remember vividly reading through my Cub Scout books to find the next cool thing to build. Dad or my Den leader were always there to answer questions or help if I got stuck. As I grew up, I continued to feed my desire to build things, like old radios or restoring my first car, a '68 Firebird when I was in High School. I also enjoyed many camping trips in the Adirondaks with my family. Scouting was a natural for me.
As I finished up High School and I had to choose a college major, the choice was easy for me - engineering, because engineers build things! Looking back, I attribute much of my desire to become an engineer to my excitement doing Scout projects as a boy.
Naturally, the most exciting Cub Scout event of the year for me was pinewoodderby car racing. I loved the idea of designing and building my own cool, little car out of a block of pine wood (with a little help from my Dad).
I carved and sanded (I don't think electricity was invented yet!) my pine wood block seemingly for hours. I kept thinking, "Could I actually build the fastest car and win 'fastest derby car' in the Pack?" I couldn't wait to race my car against my friends, brother and especially my cousin for bragging rights.
Well, race day finally came. I was about 8 years old and my first PinewoodDerby race was a memorable one alright.
In our very first heat, my car and my brother's car were perched on the top of the track. My heart was beating fast with anticipation. The pin dropped, then BOOM...nothing happened! What the heck?
Well, actually my car raced to the bottom with the other cars, finishing dead last. I was the lucky one. My car actually made it to the finish line but nobody noticed my car because everyone's eyeballs were glued to my brother's car. You see, his car didn't move at all! It just sat there at the top of the track. A silence fell over the crowd until one of the older boys pointed and yelled, "Look! Henry's car has rigor mortis!" (1).
Everyone's eyebrows rose as they leaned forward and stared. Finally, someone grabbed a ruler and pushed his car. It reluctantly moved a few feet then stopped again, seemingly to ask, "which way does gravity go again?" It never did reach the bottom. Someone mercifully pulled it off the track for a few, um, adjustments.
Hmmm, do you think we had the wheels a little too tight? Uh, did we forget to remove those sticky little burrs under the axle head? Did we misalign the wheels? Was the car perhaps a little underweight? Drum roll, please...answer? All of the above. Basically, we didn't have a clue how to make a pinewoodderby car, let alone know the speed secrets to make the car competitive.
My brother, cousin and I look back and laugh but at the time we were devastated. Nobody wants their car to be nicknamed, "flat tire" or "blow out". I certainly didn't want my son, nor any other child, to go through something like that. Today, I receive many, many pinewood stories of how Pinewood Pro has helped thousands of beginners and experts alike build a fast, winning pinewood derby car.
Steven's Pinewoodderby Experience
When Steven entered 1st grade, I was anxious to relive those Cub Scout days with him. I would teach him to camp, use a knife, tie a knot, use a compass, "build things" and figure out how they worked. Along the way, he would learn the values of scouting ("On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty.") and scouting would instill integrity in him ("A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind.) and best of all, I would be able to relive and share those life long experiences with him.especially Pinewood Derby Car racing!
No, I wasn't a fanatic about building the fastest pinewoodderby car for my son...the first year anyway. Eight year olds, clearly, need assistance from Dad if they are going to have a competitive car. Steven and I built a cool car the first year (that is his car above in the Pinewood Pro logo) and he won a small ribbon for fastest car in his Den. We were so proud, wow, a ribbon. Cool.
The next year, however, I decided to get serious. He needed help from Dad if he was going to have a top performing car. As an engineer I knew I could help him do better. I would leave the car building to him, but Dad would do the fine tuning for speed. I spent many hours thinking up ways to improve speed. I invented many "speed tricks"
( Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets ), Speed Wheels, Speed Axles, Quad Dual Block, etc.
My speed tricks were so successful that we never lost another race. I continued to invent new speed tricks and test my secrets. In 1999 we published Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets that contains over 40 speed secrets, along with a car building guide, that we used to win. Now< you can learn my winning secrets too!
My years as a Pinewoodderby Race Manager
While my son was in Cub Scouts, I managed the Pinewoodderby event for Pack 468 in Trumbull, CT. It was gratifying to help the Pack, work with the parents and a thrill to watch the boys race their cars. For the vast majority of cub scouts, pinewoodderby is the best event of the year. It was fun and exciting for everyone. There was, however, one aspect of being the race manager that I didn't like.
Each year we made Pinewoodderby participant trophies for every child in the Pack. We even spent the extra money to have each trophy engraved with the scout's name. Every Cub Scout that showed up got a trophy. At the end of the race, I was always deeply saddened to see a small group of trophies leftover, sitting on the table. These were the trophies of those Cub Scouts who never showed up on race day! Why???
Over time, I learned that building a pinewood derby car was beyond the skill level of some parents. So their Cub Scouts simply didn't participate.
Each year I offered to help anyone that needed it.just ask. I pleaded for them to "just ask". I taught a "Pinewood Derby school" to get beginners started. We setup a car tune-up "pit" to fine tune each car before the race to help them be competitive. Finally, I wrote Pinewood Derby in Six Steps to help beginners build their car. It also includes a bonus section on "Speed Essentials" to make their car competitive. Now, all I have to do is point people to the book so everyone can participate!
Pinewood Pro Values
Pinewood Pro was launched in 1999 to help beginners and experts alike build a competitive Pinewood Derby car (aka Grand Prix car) and to "give back" to BSA and the Cub Scouts. Steven and I believe so much in the BSA values and how it gives young boys a solid foundation in their formative years.
We sincerely hope that all those involved with pinewoodderby car racing learn what it was meant to teach:
- Teamwork (yes, even one parent and one child is a team)
- Parents and children spending quality time together
- How to plan a project (hint - start early!)
- How to build something to be proud of
- How to use tools
- Sportsmanship (only one person comes in 1st place!)
- And most of all - having fun with family and friends
As long as I run Pinewood Pro, I will continue to volunteer, make annual
donations to BSA and local Cub Scout Packs.
We are also happy to be involved with Awana Grand Prix, Royal Rangers, Shape and Race Derby, WIRL, Girl Scouts Grand Prix and others that share the values and ideals of Cub Scouts and Pinewood Derby car racing.
Pinewood Derby Car Racing
Do Your Best
After the first year of doing not-so-well in our Cub Scout pack race, my son and I were the team to beat every year. We were the gurus. Everyone wanted to know our secrets.
When Steve moved on to Boy Scouts, I wroteWinning Pinewood Derby Secrets that divulged all of our speed tips for building a winning pinewoodderby car to help others. (That's Steve and I on the cover after winning the District Championship).
I update it yearly so you get the most complete list
of speed tips on the market.
Every year when Steven and I completed our car,
I always repeated these words, "Whatever happens at
the race, win or lose, we did our best...and doing
your best is what counts most".
We are here to help you do your best.
Have fun, good luck and God Bless.
Joe and Steve Gargiulo Pinewood Pro
PS: Keep those e-mails coming and send a picture of your cool pinewood derby
car so we can add it to our derby car picture gallery!
(1) OK, I made up the riger mortis line (couldn't resist) but the rest is the God's honest truth! Just ask my brother Henry.