How to Build a Fast Pinewood Derby Car

Guide to making a fast pine wood derby car

How to Build a Fast Pinewood Derby Car

by , Pinewood Pro
fast pinewood derby car picture

How do you build a fast derby car?

Answer: To build a fast pine wood derby car, you need to reduce friction. Friction is the enemy of speed. Reducing friction, increases speed. It's as simple as that!


This short tutorial guide gives you is a list of friction reducers that will help you make a fast, competitive pinewood derby car. It is by no means a comprehensive list of speed secrets. For more how-to information, there are several excellent sources of winning secrets listed at the bottom of this article.


Since pine wood derby block dimensions are all the same, these speed tips apply to Cub Scouts, Awana Grand Prix, PineCar, Kub Car, Royal Rangers and Girl Scouts powderpuff pinewood derby cars.


Friction DOWN, Speed UP

Your pine wood derby car moves from the force of gravity and is slowed down from friction. Friction acts like brakes. Reduce friction and your car goes faster. Increase friction and your car slows down. Finding the sources of friction and finding ways to reduce it is the tricky part. Here are some ways to reduce friction and increase speed.


Lubrication

How to reduce friction? The easiest easy way to reduce friction in your pine car is to lubricate the two surfaces that are causing friction. Lubrication is an essential part of pine wood derby racing. Purchase a tube of dry powdered graphite and sprinkle a little on the axles and in the wheel bore. Spin the wheel so the graphite works in. You will immediately notice a significant improvement in the wheel speed and number of revolutions as you turn it.


Another good lubricant, if your rules allow it, is Nyoil II. Nyoil is a highly refined thin-film oil. Only one or two small drops on your axles reduces friction throughout your race because Nyoil stays on your axles long after graphite has dropped off in the later heats. See more details on this new lube idea in Graphite and Lubes.


Derby Axles

Your wheels turn on Pinewood Derby Axles. One of the biggest sources of friction is where the axles and wheel surfaces meet. It is important to make your axles as smooth as possible. Be absolutely sure that the burr under the nail head is filed or sanded off. Once that is sanded off, polish the nail and underside of the head to a mirror like finish.


Derby Wheels

Imperfections in your Pinewood Derby Wheels cause friction in many areas. Sanding your wheels, however, can be tricky. If the wheels are not precision sanded, you can actually make matters worse. Turning your wheels on a lathe are the best way to remove imperfections and get a uniform, balanced and finely tuned pinewood derby wheel. The wheel is secured in the lathe and spun at a high speed, then it is sanded or shaved with a tool attachment.


Wheel imperfections can also make your car veer left or right. Once again, lathed wheels will remove mold imperfections so each wheel rolls perfectly straight.


More Weight, More Inertia, More Momentum

Your car moves down the track from the force of gravity. If your car is too light, it will have less inertia in the flat part of the track. Be sure your car weighs as close to 5 oz as possible. Find someone with a scale, purchase an inexpensive scale or weigh your car at the Post Office. Add weights until the car block, along with the wheels and axles, is up to 5 oz. Don't wait until race night to get this right! When I managed our pinewood derby race, there was always a scramble just before the race to weigh cars and bring them up to 5 oz.


Making your pine wood car go straight

This can be tricky. Roll your car along the kitchen floor. If it veers to the right or left too much, the axles are crooked. Just like steering a car, you need to adjust the steering on your Derby Car. To do this, you must adjust one or more of the axles so the car rolls straight.

 

You can do this by re-drilling the axle holes with the PRO Driller Tool and re-inserting the axles, or you can gently bend the axles, but this is extremely tedious and can easily damage your axle.


How to win your pine wood derby race

To win the race, you'll need to learn the speed secrets from the experts. If you are serious about speed, spend a few dollars to download our Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets boofast pinewood derby winnerk that contains over 40 speed secrets or...start the long process of trial and error.


Have fun, do your best and happy racing!


Pine Wood Derby Help

Need more help? The experts at Pinewood Pro have been racing and managing pinewood derby races for years. As an engineer, I have designed the most complete list of speed secrets in my #1 selling book, Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets.


Most people pick up the basic hints from friends or searching the internet but to be a winner, you need to know all the secrets...

Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets book image
Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets


If you are a beginner, consider our beginner's book, Pinewood Derby in Six Steps, which takes you through the car building process step by step, in a clear, concise manner, with complete illustrations.

It also provides a bonus section on Speed Essentials to show you how to prepare your axles and reduce friction so you have a competitive car. It even includes three simple cut-out car design templates so you have everything you need to build your first competitive car.



Pinewood Derby In Six Steps

Finally, our Science of Speed book and DVD explain some of the principles behind speed. The DVD contains a nice segment on how to make your pine car go straight.



Share with Friends!







    • Pinewood Pro Security Verified Trust





    • Risk Free Guarantee Pinewood Pro




      Pinewood Derby
      Tips & Hints

      The best part of pinewood derby is designing a unique, cool car that you can call your own. Don't worry about aerodynamics because it is almost insignificant. We identify dozens of other speed tips in Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets that rank far above aerodynamics.








      Pinewood Derby
      wheels Tip

      A lathed wheel means the wheel was turned at a high speed and "sanded" with a cutting tool. Lathed Wheels are perfectly tuned around the axis of rotation giving you the highest performance.



      Pinewood Derby
      lubes Hint

      When adding Nyoil to your axles, "less is more"! Only use one or two drops per axle and wipe off any excess oil. The oil should not be run down your axle.



    • Helping Pinewood Derby Racers
      pinewood derby authority
      ...for over 15 years.

    • This is our second order with Pinewood Pro and everything from the website to the delivery to the product has been excellent. As a Dad experiencing his first Cub Scout Pinewood Pro is a great resource to make sure I don't screw up! Thanks,
      - Neal from PA



    • Thank you for the great service. I will be coming back to purchase fo my grandson's pinewood derby. Thanks again, it's been great doing business with Pinewood Pro. Blessings to you and your staff.
      - Jim from IL



    • Using these axles and BSA speed wheels, we set a track record, went undefeated and won the pack championship. My son is thrilled to be heading to districts and let me tell you, a winning scout is a happy scout. Can't recommend these enough!
      - Natalie from CO



    • I ordered a set of your BSA wheels and axels last minute on Wednesday for overnight delivery. Our race was on Friday. We finished in 6th out of 80 cars, and will be going to the Divisional Race! My son was never happier! Thanks again!
      - Steve from KY



    • I have purchased from you for two consecutive years and am an extremely satisfied customer. The order arrived promptly and I am very pleased with your products and service. Thank you so much!
      - Trey from SC



    • pinewood derby winner with trophy picture

      Thank you for the great Pinewood Derby tips! My son was so excited when he got the 1st place trophy!
      - Kevin from AZ



    • This is my son's first Derby car as a Tiger Cub Scout. We had a lot of fun working on this together. Even though he didn't place it was a rewarding experience. Next year we plan to build something even more unique and perhaps a little more challenging. Thanks for a great web site!
      - Shawn from CA

    • 1st Place!!

      1st Place!! Thanks for the everlasting memories you have made possible!
      - Williiam from IN

    • pinewood derby winner

      My son won third in his pack, and we are waiting the district race. Thanks again for all of your wonderful products!
      - Tom from AZ

    • flawlessly

      Your Products performed flawlessly. Thank you for your awesome quality products.
      - Chris N from NJ

    • I just read your Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets book and I can not wait to apply the information. Thanks for the help!
      - Tully from TX

    • shopped with you all 5 years

      This is our last year of Pinewood Derby. We have shopped with you all 5 years and our son won his Pack 2x, Districts 1x and placed 2nd the other times. Thank you!
      - Lloyd from NH

How to Build a Fast Pinewood Derby Car