Pinewood Pro Products - Track Tested for Speed
We ran hundreds of races using controlled experiments to get statistically valid results.
Experiments were controlled by replacing a single item on the same car and then running that car down the same lane 10 to 12 times on the same day to minimize variability. We used a spacer gauge to gap the wheels to eliminate wheel spacing variations. We did NOT use graphite because uneven application of graphite would add variation.
The resulting data was cleansed, averaged and charted so you can see the exact speed increase you can expect over stock components.
While our experiments were highly controlled, please read our notes about Things Beyond Your Control to see why Pinewood Derby will always have variability, and unpredictability, which is the very thing that has made this event fun for over 50 years!
Tests were performed on a 6-lane aluminum Best Track with a Fast Track electronic timer.
We hope you find this data helpful in selecting products for your race.
Track Tests on our Pinewood derby Axles
Track Tests on our Pinewood Derby Wheels
Ultra Lite Awana Speed Wheels
Will increase your speed by an average of .297 seconds over stock wheels.
Tests were performed with our Nickle Plated Speed Axles. We did not use graphite for our tests because we did not want to introduce variability where too much, or too little, graphite was added to an axle.
Awana Ultra Lite Speed wheels are precision lathed on the outside tread, inside tread, rim, hub and inside of the wheel to lighten it, giving you a fast start and perfect concentricity as it flys down the track.
NOTE: These wheels are not for Cub Scouts BSA races.
PRO Graphite - dry powdered with moly additive
Dry Powdered PRO Graphite with Moly additive
Speed Test notes:
This test was performed using our PRO Super Speed axles. We ran the same car 10 times with no graphite. Then we removed the axles, added our PRO Graphite, then re-inserted the same axle and wheel into the same position on the same car and ran it down the same lane another 10 times.
How this helps you:
Things beyond your control
We did an interesting experiment...we ran the same car down the same lane over and over with NO CHANGES. The speed varied by as much as .105 seconds using a rail rider car (26 runs) and .271 seconds for a non-rail rider car (19 runs).
Why so much variation???
Basically, there are always variations...consider the following:
- How the car was placed at starting gate. This will change with each run. If the car was skewed, it will slow down when the wheels hit the rails (yes, even for rail rider cars!)
- Lane condition, also known as a "slow lane" due to lane construction or small amounts debris
- Tracks have joints where sections meet. Joints don't match perfectly, making the car jump at the joints.
- Something in the lane (bugs, dust, broken car pieces, wood chips, etc.)
- Starting pin drops, then pops back up on metal tracks, hitting bottom of car and popping it up (loses ~.04 sec)
- "Sticky" starting pin - some are covered with plastic
- Car dropped or man-handled, between races causing wheels to misalign
- Car jumps a lane. This causes wheels to misalign and can scratch and damage wheels
- Cars crashing at finish line (I've seen this many times) can cause wheels to misalign and/or scratch wheels
- Car jumps off track entirely - causes wheels to misalign and/or scratches wheels. Can also cause dents and ruts in the wheels
- Powdered graphite blows off with each run. Statistical sampling showed an average speed loss of .019 seconds per run.
- Wheels loosen and gap widens, or the "car handler " holds car by the wheels, pushes wheels in and they bind together
- Car wheels misaligned (impossible to get car going straight AND staying straight), causing car to bang off the rails or drag on the rails
- Decorative part or small weight pieces fall off car, changing the weight and balance of the car
Bottom Line is...pinewood derby racing is unpredictable, and that is why it has been so much fun for over 50 years!
So, Pick your best products, Do Your Best, and enjoy the ride!
Our products and track testing will help you do your best...we leave the fun part to you.
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Helping Pinewood Derby Racers
...for over 15 years.
Tips & Hints
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.
The axle slots that are cut into standard blocks are too tight for BSA axles that are .089" diameter. Small axle slots make it difficult to get your axles in straight. A #44 drill bit is .086", which I find too tight. Consider a #43 Drill Bit, which is a perfect match at .089" for a snug fit.
Tungsten weights are ideal for pinewood derby cars. Tungsten is about 1/3 smaller than a zinc piece with the same weight. Therefore, you can pack Tungsten weights in a smaller area to optimize your center of gravity to maximize inertia giving you greater speed at the finish gate.
Thanks a ton for all the tips and the Wheels and Axles! We beat cars that had taken district and region in Georgia! This was my last race with my two boys. Great way to end! Thanks again!
This will be my 3rd year ordering from you. This year I have an 8 year old son, a ten year old son, and my 12 year old daughter's young women group is also doing the pinewood derby. We are still undefeated – Last year we purchased your wheels and axles and won 1st place again, 2 years running!
- Kirk from UT
Thank you very much! I've always had very good luck with your products and I will continue to purchase everything I need from you!
- Jenna from AL
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I have a Webelo 1 and Webelo II Scout and they placed 1st and 2nd in this year's Pinewood Derby and will now go on to compete in the regional race. Thank you for all the good that you are doing and helping make kids dreams come true.
- Craig from CA
Thank you for the tips in your Winning Secrets book. Out of 116 cars in our AWANA Grand Prix, my boys came in first in their divisions and 1st and 3rd overall. They were thrilled!
My daughter won 1st place, and my son won 3rd place. It was very fun and hope to do again next year. Thanks for your great information,
- Barry from MI