How to Run a Derby Race with cars made from LEGO® bricks
Free Guide with tips and hints
First, note that making a fast Derby Car built with LEGO® bricks is the same as making a fast Pinewood Derby Car. All of the Car Design and Physics principles are the same. You can read our free How to Make a Fast Pinewood Derby Car or download a copy of our Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets.
How to Run a Derby Race with Car Built with LEGO® bricks
About the Author: Joe Gargiulo, Pinewood Pro Founder
Note: LEGO is a trademark of the LEGO Group, which does not authorize, sponsor or endorse this site.
What is racing Derby Cars built with LEGO® bricks?
It is the same as Pinewood Derby Car racing except that your car is built with LEGO® bricks instead of a block of pine wood. A special PRO Brick Wheel Assembly snaps into LEGO® bricks so you can build a freewheeling car that you can race on a pinewood derby race track. You can also use Pinewood Pro's new PRO Brick Chassis which is a fully assembled derby car chassis with all four wheels and axles installed.
Brick Derby Wheels and Axles
To get the proper wheel spacing to race a derby car made from LEGO® bricks to race on a pinewood derby track, just snap in the new PRO Brick Wheel Assembly from Pinewood Pro, which includes the wheel and axle mounted on the PRO Brick.
You can also use official Pinewood Derby wheels and axles but this requires drilling into LEGO bricks to secure the axles and you need to worry about getting proper wheel alignment and spacing. Whichever wheels and axles you choose for your race, we suggest using the same solution so all cars are the same.
Building the cars
Unlike pinewood derby cars that are built once and raced once, derby cars built with LEGO® bricks can be quickly designed, built and re-built over and over until you get the car design you want. The beauty of a Brick Derby racing is that it encourages experimentation and creativity.
To encourage experimentation further, we setup the pinewood derby track without the timer. This allowed the scouts to race their cars, change the design, add or subtract weight and race again.
When the evening was over, the scouts had designed the LEGO cars they wanted and had a feel for their car's speed. Yes, this can get messy and hectic with pieces falling off cars, but the kids loved it. They quickly designed, built and re-designed their cars and they loved the excitement of racing.
We then setup the track at the next meeting WITH the timer activated for the competitive race. We gave the boys (and siblings) some time for last minute adjustments, then the cars were impounded and we raced them for speed just like a pinewood derby race…with a few twists.
Brick Derby Car Building Hints
- If you want the cars to have some permanence, then I suggest gluing together some, if not all, the pieces. LEGO® bricks were simply not meant to crash together and stay together! There is considerable force when a car reaches the end of the track and unless you have a long landing zone (most tracks don't), the car is going to smash into something and break apart unless the pieces are glued together. In the very least, you should glue the PRO Brick Wheel Assembly to your car.
- Just like your pinewood derby car, your derby car built with LEGO® bricks will perform better if you lubricate the axles. HOWEVER, graphite will wreak havoc on LEGO® bricks! Graphite and oil lubricants, such as NyOil, tend to migrate to everything and if (when) that happens, your brick connections will get lubricated, lose their connectivity and your cool car will fall apart into a heap.
- I suggest carefully lubricating your axles a single drop of NyOil before snapping the PRO Brick Wheel Assembly to your car. In addition, glue the PRO Brick Wheel Assembly to your car. Note: When gluing, take extra care not to get glue near your axles!
Speed Hints to make the fastest Brick Derby Car
Making a fast Derby Car built with LEGO® bricks is the same as making a fast Pinewood Derby Car, so all of the Car Design and Physics principles are the same.
You can reference the speed tips in our free How to Make a Fast Pinewood Derby Car or download a copy of our Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets to get ALL of the speed secrets.
Pinewood Pro's PRO Brick Wheel Assembly has several speed advantages built in, such as Ultra-Light Wheels, Nickel Plated Speed Axles and perfect wheel spacing. In addition, the axles are pre-inserted into the PRO Brick so your car is designed to roll straight.
Oh, and don't get caught up in Aerodynamics. It isn't a significant speed factor. I've seen an unfinished pinewood wood derby block of wood compete in the finals. There are far more important speed factors to master than aerodynamics, so use your imagination
and have fun building a cool looking Derby Car.
Rules for Racing Cars made from LEGO® bricks
These are the Brick Derby Rules we used for our race. They are similar, but not the same as pinewood derby rules.
I came up with several different Award ideas for our race. I think you will find them interesting and fun.
Sharing your PRO Brick Derby
I ran several PRO Brick derby races for our local Pack, at a Scout Jamboree and Cub Scout recuruitment night. They were a blast! I was especially impressed that everyone from Girl Scouts to Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and adults built and raced cars.
I call Brick derby "spontaneous, unlimited fun" because the cars are built "in a snap" and the car designs are only limited by the variety of LEGO® bricks you have.
PRO Brick Derby Car Racing encourages experimentation as the cars are assembled and disassembled (or fall apart) so fast.
PRO Brick Derby car racing can be used for a Cub Scout Recruitment event or an additional scout or Church Group activity that includes siblings because the cars can be built entirely by the child.
I encourage your feedback, suggestions and sharing your experience. Call me at 203-400-3713. Soon we will have a picture gallery to show off your Derby Car built with LEGO® bricks, so email your car pictures!
Winning Tips and Hints
Tips & Hints
Make your car slim. If your car is too chunky, there will be lots of weight in the wood, leaving less weight for your weights. You want lots of weight so you can move the center of gravity to the optimal point to maximize inertia.
Before cutting your car, use a straight edge to draw lines down the center lengthwise and widthwise across your car. Then draw your car design template over these straight lines. The template and straight lines help guide your cutting on both sides of the car so everything is square.
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.