Most of us gearheads experienced our first competitive car race in the Pinewood Derby. A seven inch long piece of wood, four nails, four plastic wheels and a sloped track –that’s it. Gravity is the only motor in this race. At first glance it seems like there isn’t much to the Pinewood Derby. However, after getting your ass kicked your first year you realize that a Pinewood Derby car can be as complicated as any real racecar. Aerodynamics, rolling friction, center of mass, weight, alignment, lane choice, there are all sorts of things that can make the car roll down the track or get stuck halfway down the hill. Of course, as a seven year old kid you have no idea how to change the center mass of a Pinewood Derby car, that’s where dad comes along.
To learn the tricks of the trade on winning a Boy Scouts of America Pinewood Derby check out the Racer Boy column at Speed Sport Life.