Pinewood Derby Rules
by Joe Gargiulo, Pinewood Pro
FAQ: Are your parts legal in my race?
- The overall length of the car shall not exceed 7 inches.
- The overall width of the car shall not exceed 2 ¾ inches.
- The car must have 1 ¾” clearance between the wheels.
- The car must have 3/8” clearance underneath the body so it does not rub on the track.
- The car shall not exceed 5.0 ounces.
- The official race scale that is used at car check-in shall be considered final.
- The official pine wood block must be used. The block may be shaped in any way that is desired.
- Official BSA wheels must be used. The wheels may not be cut, drilled, beveled or rounded. You may remove the seams and imperfections from the wheels.
- The axles may be altered, polished and lubricated.
- Once a car passes inspection and is entered into the race, only race committee members can touch it.
- If the car loses a wheel, or is otherwise damaged, the racer shall have 5 minutes to make repairs.
- Each car must pass inspection by the official inspection committee before it will be allowed to compete.
The Inspection Committee has the responsibility to disqualify those cars that do not meet these rules.
Below are the official pinewood derby rules I used for our BSA Cub Scout Pack pinewood derby race. Feel free to use these rules for your Cub Scout pinewood derby or Awana Grand Prix race.
Note that all Pinewood Derby rules are set at the local race level. We chose a simple, clear set of rules. Other Packs may have elaborate rules. Be sure to read and abide by the rules for your local race.
If you have a question about rules, be sure to ask the person running your race because they have the final say about what is and isn't legal for that race.
For our Cub Scout Pack races, we inspected each car at weigh-in on race day. Some race managers inspect and impound cars the day before the race to avoid "log jams" on race day.
We weighed each car with the "official scale" and turned back any car that exceeded 5.0 oz. We then did a quick visual inspection of each car against the following inspection points:
Car Dimension Rules
Derby Car Weight Rules
Car Modifications Not Allowed
Other Pinewood Derby Race Rules
Are Pinewood Pro parts allowed?
Are your parts BSA Cub Scouts approved?Understandably, I get these questions all the time.
While I can give you a general answer, there are two reasons that I can't give a definitive answer.
1. Every race has their own set of rules.
2. Every race inspector may interpret those rules differently.
For example, pinewood derby races are run by Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies, Kub Kar Rally, YMCA, Awana, charities, adult groups, etc. They all have different pinewood derby rules!
Within those groups, someone will be assigned to "check in" each car to weigh and inspect the car. When I managed races for our Cub Scout Pack, we just weighed cars and made sure the car didn't exceed the size requirements and that there were no holes cut in the wheels or any gross violations like that. Occasionally, a car needed minor adjustments but I never rejected a car.
On the other hand, I have heard of race inspectors that check cars with micrometer gauges down to the hundreth of an inch, or they use special rulers, sizing boxes, etc. You get the idea...all different, so verify rules with your race manager.
Having said that, here are two general guidelines -
1. If something is not specifically stated in the rules, it is ok.
2. When in doubt, ask your race manager!
Are Pinewood Pro Wheels and Axles Legal?
For all the reasons stated above, only you and your race manager can answer that question.
However, the following notes should help you:
- If a part states, "BSA" in the title, it is an Official Boy Scouts of America part from the BSA car kit. BSA Polished Axles, for example, are from the Official BSA Cub Scout Grand Prix Pinewood Derby kit. BSA Speed Wheels are also directly from the BSA Cub Scout kit.
- All of my BSA wheels have all of the BSA markings inside and outside of the wheel, including the beads along the wheel tread. These markings are usually what is required to meet BSA pinewood derby race rules.
- Graphite-coatings on axles and wheels are legal as long as your race rules allow graphite or dry lubricants.
- All of our pre-cut derby blocks, car kits and pre-made pinewood derby cars conform to official BSA and Awana car dimensions.
- Our Awana Wheels were purchased directly from Awana International, and all of the Awana markings remain on the wheel.
I hope this helps answer some questions about pinewood derby rules...
Follow the rules and may your derby car win!
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Tips & Hints
Tungsten Putty is ideal for getting your car up to the maximum 5 oz limit. Drill a hole in the bottom of your car and insert Pinewood Pro Putty as the last step to bring your car to 5.0 oz. If the official scale weighs you in at 5.1 oz, simply remove a small amount of putty to bring it back to 5.0 oz.
When lubing your wheels and axles, shoot graphite powder into the wheel bore, spin your wheels, and repeat. Do this over newspaper in your garage or outside the house.
Put a coat of wood primer on your car before painting it because pine wood is porous and will absorb the first coat of paint. Lightly sand the primer after it dries, then apply a final coat (or two) for a clean, finished look.
This was my 7-year-old's first Pinewood Derby and he won 1st! We followed your Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets and his car smoked other the cars by 4-5 car lengths each race. Thanks again.
We placed an amazing 2nd out of 28 cars. We only lost to first place by half an inch. Our car ran consistently all night. We won 2nd place overall! You will be our first stop next year!
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One of my girls won the "girls fav" car which was picked by all the girl scouts as their fav. Thanks
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