How to Build a Fast Pinewood Derby Car
This is by no means everything that you should know about building a fast pinewood derfby car. There are several experts in this area that have published books, on the subject (See Pinewood derby Books). I would consider these tips the basics but they are enough to get your car off to a good start.
General principles of speed
Your car goes down the track by the pull of gravity. Your car is slowed down from friction. Friction is the enemy of speed. Reduce friction and your car will go faster. Here are some ways to reduce friction and increase speed…
You want to make your axles as smooth as possible. Be absolutely sure that the burr under the nail head and bumps on the shaft are filed smooth then use #400 and #1600 sandpaper to polish the shaft and inside of the head.
Gravity / weight
This one is simple. Be sure your car weighs as close to 5 oz as possible. The heavier your car, the faster it will go. Find someone with a scale, purchase an inexpensive scale or weigh your car at the post office. Add weights until the car with the wheels and axles is up to 5 oz. Don’t wait until race night to get this right.
Making the car go straight
This can be tricky. Roll your car along as smooth surface like a counter top. If it veers to the right or left more than one inch every three feet, the axles are out of alignment. Just like steering a car, you need to adjust the steering on your Pinewood Derby Car. To do this, you must adjust one or more of the axles so the car rolls straight. You can use our Pro Rail Rider tool to slightly bend the axles to correct the alignment.
This is essential. Purchase a tube of graphite and sprinkle a little in the wheel bore with the axle inserted part way. Work the graphite in by spinning the wheel on the axle. You will notice a significant improvement in the speed of the wheel as it turns.
We offer several books for more details on building your car and speed tips.
106 pages filled with photos, illustrations and car designs show you how to build three levels of Pinewood Derby cars.
The science behind what makes a car fast explained in simple terms. Includes instructions for building the "Ultimate" car.