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Most kids speak with great nostalgia when the subject of Pinewood Derby cars comes up. Designs range from the speedy and elegant to the loud, and, in my case at least, ridiculous. However there’s a growing group of both parents and kids who know don’t know a thing about how to craft a racer or what’s possible to do in the first place. To remedy that, our friend Troy Thorne over at Fox Chapel Publishing recently wrote Getting Started in Pinewood Derby.

Troy has an excellent way of breaking the process down and giving step-by-step instuctions that builders of any age can understand and duplicate. The book comes complete with sweet pictures and helpful tips that get you over the rough spots.

There are also a dozen plans in the book that can be cut out and used as templates to replicate his designs exactly and give the other competitors a run for their money. Couple this with the painting ideas, axle and wheel prep, weighting, and test run instructions, and you’ve got 95 pages of racer building know-how to back up both you and the young’n.

When we met him at Maker Faire a few years ago, our first question to Troy was “Do your designs really work?” He pointed us over to his booth where he had close to 50 lightning-fast racers on display with a test track set up behind them, and told us to find out for ourselves. We did. They do.

If you’re looking for step-by-step awesome in a book that’ll put a smile on your kid’s face and be a competitive entry into the local race, Mr. Thorne’s Getting Started in Pinewood Derby is a great place to begin.

Getting Started in Pinewood Derby [Fox Chapel Publishing]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


6 Responses to A Good Read: Getting Started in Pinewood Derby

  1. Brice says:

    As a Cub Scout Leader I’ve been building, err helping to build, cars for a long time. Make sure you read the rules for your race division very carefully. The cars are supposed to be very closely matched. It makes the racing more fun!

  2. Angelbane says:

    Remember rule #1 — the KID is supposed to be the primary creator of the racer. By the time they are Webelos they should be doing all of the work with the parent only supervising.

    Also as someone who had done car inspection for a number of years. DONT cheat if you caught and and disqualified your kid will pay by not being able to participate and then the family will forever be thought of as a cheat.

  3. Richard says:

    As I write this I have my 55 year old 3rd place winner right on my desk, with the ribbon. It is great for the individual but I remember my whole family talking about how to do it and my brother painting it up. Yes its good for individuals but its fun for the whole family

  4. Jim K. says:

    Sadly my father was NOT a toolmonger so my early efforts at Pinewood Derby cars left a little to be desired. That said, I managed to stay roughly competitive even though my only tools were a dull hacksaw, some sandpaper (one grit, probably 100 and no sanding block or anything), a screwdriver and a hammer with a bent handle. I remember being pretty embarrassed when I saw the other cars in their nicely shaped and carved glory. It was probably that day that I vowed to have a proper toolkit when I grew up. 🙂

  5. Dave says:

    Placing the weight to the rear adds a huge advantage, key is to not take so much weight off the front wheels they skitter and dance from the slightest mar in the track surface.

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