Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby is the wood car racing event of Scouts BSA. Pinewood derbies are often run by packs of the Cub Scouts program. With the help of adults, Scouts build their own unpowered, unmanned miniature cars from wood, usually from kits containing a block of pine wood, plastic wheels, and metal axles.


The first pinewood derby was held on May 15, 1953 (70 years ago) at the Scout House[4] in Manhattan Beach, California by Cub Scout Pack 280C (the present Pack 713). The concept was created by the Pack's Cubmaster Don Murphy, and sponsored by the Management Club at North American Aviation.

Murphy's son was too young to participate in the popular Soap Box Derby races, so he came up with the idea of racing miniature wood cars. The cars had the same gravity-powered concept as the full-size Soap Box Derby cars, but were much smaller and easier to build.


When using a kit sold through Scouting America, the Scout begins with a block of wood, four plastic wheels, and four nails for axles. The finished car must use all nine pieces, must not exceed a certain weight (usually five ounces (140 grams)),[12] must not exceed a certain width (usually 2+3⁄4 inches (7.0 cm))[12] and length (usually 7 inches (18 cm))[12] and must fit on the track used by that particular Scout pack.

Blocks can be whittled with a hand knife, bandsaw, or a carving tool. Other than the previous basic design rules, the Cub Scout is able to carve and decorate the car as he or she chooses. Cars vary from unfinished blocks to whimsical objects, to accurate replicas of actual cars. Weights can be added to the final design to bring the car to the maximum allowable weight. A high-density metal weight, such as tungsten carbide which is not toxic like lead, reduces the volume of wood, which reduces air friction and increases speed. Axle friction can be reduced by polishing the nails and applying graphite as a lubricant.

BSA’s Pinewood Derby Car Building Rules

Each local Pinewood Derby committee determines the rules for building and racing cars. The committee will need to make sure their rules don't conflict with those of the district or council to ensure their members can participate in events at those levels.

According to the BSA's Cub Scout Leader How-To-Book, the general rules are as follows:

All cars must pass the following inspection to qualify for the race: