Pinewood Derby

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Also see: Pinewood Derby Official Rules and Pinewood Derby Tips
See Cub Scout Derbies at

The Pinewood Derby® is a popular Cub Scout activity. Pinewood derby cars are small wooden models that boys make with help from their families and then race in competition. The cars are powered by gravity and run down a regulation track. The pinewood derby is an annual event in most packs. It can be run indoors or outdoors. Every boy can design and build his own "grand prix" car to enter in the race. Pinewood Derby® is a registered trademark of the Boy Scouts of America.

Kits and supplies for the pinewood derby are available from the national Supply Division. See their Web site at Making Pinewood Derby cars can help meet requirements for Cubs at each level.


Planning Your Derby

All derbies and regattas have some things in common. They all require planning and preparation, they all involve competition and prizes, and they provide fun for boys and their families. Always remember that in Cub Scouting, it's more important to "Do Your Best" than to come in first.

Because the derby is a major event, it should be planned and prepared by its own program committee, which will need to:

  • Follow the guidelines for planning special pack activities found in chapter 6 of the Cub Scout Leader Book.
  • Provide each participating family with a set of simple, uncomplicated rules, including a time schedule.
  • Plan and carry out appropriate opening, award, and closing ceremonies.
  • Handle all aspects of awards, not only prizes for the "winners," but recognition for every boy for participating in the derby.
  • Plan for crowd control.
  • Devise a fair method of judging.
  • Plan and provide appropriate decorations with lots of boy participation.
  • You can find more information about derbies in the Cub Scout Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Guidebook.

Open Class

Many Packs also offer one of more Open Class races. In the Open Class, weight requirements are typically removed and non-BSA wheels or axles (nails) may be allowed. Cub Scouts might also be allowed to race previous year's cars in the Cub Scout Open Class. Parents might be able to build their own cars for the Adult Open Class. Boy Scouts might be able to race their old cars or build new cars for a Boy Scout Class. Many Packs use the Open class races as great fundraising opportunities by charging a small extra fee to race in the open class. Even in Open Class, many Packs also prohibit rocket engines due to fire concerns and still need height or clearance requirements, etc. so that the car can safely travel down the track.

Pinewood Derby Licenses

Click here to print: Pinewood Derby Licenses
Click here to print: Pinewood Derby Licenses
Pinewood License

In Cub Scouts, every boy is recognized for doing his best. In this spirit, many packs make sure that every Cub who participates is called forward at the concluding awards ceremony. At $10 for eight cards, the official BSA Pinewood Derby Licenses are more expensive than Official Ribbons.

The free MeritBadge.Org Pinewood Derby Licenses are an inexpensive and easy way to recognize every boy. With eight colorful licenses on each page, consider printing enough ahead of time for every Cub expected to participate. Consider printing additional "honorary licenses" to recognize your Cubmaster and others who helped. On race day fill out the cards for just the boys who participate.

Pinewood Derby Awards

Cub Scout Pack often use the Pinewood Derby® as a special Pack Meeting or at a Blue and Gold Banquet. Trophies or awards are often presented for each level: Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos I, and Webelos II. Special medals are available:

Pinewood Derby® medals, with red, white, and blue ribbons, Cub Scout, above left pocket: blue background, No. 00974; red background, No. 00975; white background, No. 00976.

A Great Recruiting Tool

Your Pinewood Derby can be your best recruiting tool. Boys (and parents) don't want to sit through a Roundup sales pitch or slide show. Instead invite the local kindergarten classes to come to your Pinewood Derby. Also ask each Cub to invite one new friend to come along. Once they see the Pinewood Derby, they will be hooked! If you already have had your Pinewood Derby, you can still set up the track during the Roundup and let you boys show off their previous cars!

Cub Scout Derbies

Cub Scout derbies—the pinewood derby, raingutter regatta, and space derby—are optional but valuable activities for Cub Scouts. Many men who once were Cub Scouts fondly recall their derby experiences: planning the design of their vehicle, working with a parent to build it, and seeing it perform on race day when, win or lose, they could take pride in having done their best. In this way, the three basic lessons learned by participating in a Cub Scout derby—the craft skills, the rules of fair play, and good sportsmanship—are remembered for a lifetime.


The first pinewood derby was held on May 15, 1953, in Manhattan Beach, California by Pack 280c, organized by Cubmaster Don Murphy. In the 1980's, the design of the block was changed from a cutout block to a solid block and the tires were changed to wider "slicks". The pinewood derby was selected as part of "America's 100 Best" in 2006 as "a celebrated rite of spring" by Reader's Digest. Similar Cub Scouting events include the raingutter regatta with boats and the space derby using rubber band powered rockets.

Related Awards

  • Tiger Cub Electives 17. Make a Model: You could make a Pinewood Derby model car or a Space Derby model rocket, etc.
  • Wolf 5. Tools for Fixing and Building - use tools to build a Pinewood Derby car, Space Derby Rocket, etc.
  • Wolf Electives 3e. Or make something else. Make a Pinewood Derby car, Space Derby Rocket, etc.
  • Bear *21a. Build a model from a kit. or 21f. Make a model of a rocket, boat, car, or plane. Make a Pinewood Derby car, Space Derby Rocket, etc.
Webelos Activity Awards
  • Craftsman 2. Construct wooden objects - one might be [Pinewood Derby]] car, Space Derby Rocket, etc.
  • Artist 9. Make an art construction, using your choice of materials. - Make and decorate a Pinewood Derby car, Space Derby Rocket, etc.

See also

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