NEED FOR SPEED?
Go Fast!! How to win races with your pinewood derby car. Key speed tips.
1. Before checking in, make sure your wheels are lubricated and all four are spinning for at least 20 seconds.
2. Make sure you have the most weight possible. Extra weight will make the difference.
3. Remember to always hold your car by the body, never the wheels.
4. Don’t run your car in dirt or on concrete so as not to hurt the wheels.
5. Staging your car at the starting line is an art. Start by lowering the front wheels down to the track with the front of your
car centered in the lane. Then gently lower the rear wheels to the track, again carefully centered. Reach carefully over
the top to gently pull the wheels out toward the ends of the axles, first the front wheels and then the rear. Then make
one final check that the car is lined up to go straight down to the finish line. Be very careful not to touch your opponent's
car. If you staged first, watch to assure that your car is not jostled by your opponent.
6. Keep the car a full seven inches. The reason for this has to do with the physics of velocity and length of travel of the
7. Use the full 2 3/4 inches (outside wheel to outside wheel) that the rules give you. This will allow the wheels to travel
farther before hitting the center strip.
8. Leave a lot of wood in the back to put in the weights.
9. Do not make the front of the car pointed. It is hard to set up against the starting dowels.
10. Right before check-in, fill the wheels wells with graphite and cover with stickers like a hub cap. You can paint the 1 inch
stickers in a contrasting color. It looks great!
11. Transport your car in a shoebox. Dropped cars are unfortunately a too common experience.
12. Explain to your child that running the car along the floor prior to the race will cause it to lose!
13. Friction occurs between the wheels and axles, between the wheels and car body, and between the wheels and center
guide rail. This is where you need to reduce friction.
14. If you push the axles in too far, the wheels will bind against the sides of the car. Leave a little room for the wheels to
move sideways, along the length of the axle.
15. You can camber the front end only of the axles so that they run on the edge of the racing edge wheel, causing it to go
even faster. Cambering means pushing the axle in at a very slight angle.
16. Final tip? Have lots of fun and remind your child that win or lose, they’ve had a great time designing a car they can be
proud of! Don't forget to tellthem what fun you have had working on it with them.