If you’re wondering how to make a fast pinewood derby car for your next competition, the experts at Maximum Velocity have got you covered! From high quality derby car products, kits and car plans, we have the supplies and the know-how to craft a race-winning car every time.
A former NASA engineer explains how you can use science to build a fast Pinewood Derby car.
For seven years, I worked at NASA on the Mars Curiosity rover. It is just like a Pinewood Derby car, except it has six wheels, it’s nuclear powered and it shoots lasers.
My Cub Scout son and I decided we would take the science principles I used while building stuff at NASA and apply them to making his Pinewood Derby car.
Take a look at some of those science principles in this video and check out my list of the most important steps for making fastest Pinewood Derby car possible.
Most competitions cap weight limits at 5 ounces. When adding weight, place it so that the final balance point of the car is 1 inch or less in front of the front axle. To achieve this, place 2/5 of the added weight behind the rear axle, and the remaining 3/5 in front of the rear axle.
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For cars that feature less than one-half of the original block, lead or tungsten weight is required. For cars with very little wood, tungsten is needed to attain proper weight. Tungsten offers the highest density available, next to gold and other expensive metals. For cars that have the majority of the block remaining, a lighter, less dense weight works best, like steel or zinc.
In general, grooved axles will outperform non-grooved axles. We believe this has less to do with a lube reservoir that can be stored in the grooves, but more so with minimizing the amount of contact between the wheel bore and axle shaft. Friction slows down your car, and minimizing contact minimizes friction.
The basis of any competition car is the body. Typically, you can choose between a “standard” or an “extended” wheelbase for your car body. A standard wheelbase positions the car’s axles to the specifications set forth by the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Kit. But an extended wheelbase puts the axles closer to the end of the block, providing more stability and performance. If allowed by your competition’s rules, use an extended wheelbase for a faster car.
Follow this article for the secrets to the ultimate Pinewood Derby car.
What makes a fast pinewood derby car?
How do I build a fast pinewood derby car?
How fast do pinewood derby cars go?