Speed ... Speed ... Speed

There are several common threads to most fast cars. The keys are:

The builder followed the Rules
(You can't race if you're disqualified)
The car goes in a Straight Line
(You might as well.. That's the direction the track goes in)
It weighs the Maximum Weight for its class
(Gives you the best speed for your gram)
It has Minimum Wheel Friction
(The less friction. The faster you go)
The axles have been lubricated
(See above)


The following points should provide you with insight onto make the fastest car possible

1.  Understand and follow the rules. The fastest car can't win if it never gets a chance to race.
2.   Fast cars usually have a low profile that offers the least resistance to the air-stream. Characters (like Snoopy and Spiderman) and other excessive trim can slow down a car, even if just a little
3.  Axles. File to remove burrs, moulding marks and production debris. Axles should be polished to provide a surface for the wheel to roll without restriction.
4. Weigh the car to the maximum for its class. The greater weight helps overcome drag and friction. Optionally you can create an easy way to add or remove weight on race day. Try using wood screws with washers under them you so can add or remove the washers as necessary depending whether you are under or over weight.
5.  Try putting the weight towards the rear of the car. It won't make a huge difference but then every little bit helps. The theory is that the higher weight pushes the car for a longer period of time.
6.  Ensure that your car is tracking (running) straight. A car that bumps the lane guide more often gets slowed down more often. A "front-end alignment" may be necessary.
7.  Use a good dry lubricant. Dry graphite seems to be the best but there are other alternatives. No oil-based products are allowed
8.  Ensure your wheels roll smoothly and are not binding. A good test is to spin each of your wheels with your finger and let them run to a stop. It should take 20-30 seconds for well tuned and lubricated wheels to stop completely.
9. Never, never, never roll your competition pinewood car on the ground, concrete or carpet. These rough and dirty surfaces can ruin the car's wheels, axles and alignment.
10.  Be careful of axle modifications. Reducing the diameter of the axles can reduce the friction at the contact points and may increase speed but it will increase the chance of damage, loss of alignment and bending. This often happens when a car is dropped or even put down too quickly.
11.  Don't ruin a good thing. Even with this (good?) advice, your car may already be as fast as it can. Changes can sometimes work in the reverse of best intentions. A pinewood winner will not want to change their winning design but use these ideas for improving next year's design


Content of this page courtesy of Pinewood Derby Super Site
Content 1999 Larry Bosworth. Modified & re-published with permission