Scroll to the bottom for a tips and tricks guide for parents!
BSA Pinewood Derby training syllabus
Scouting Magazine: Keeping Derby Dynamos Under Control on Race Day (read comments too!)
Helpfull website with planning outline (also has Lego car parts)
Websites for Supplies: (this is a sampling, not an all inclusive list)
Besttrack.com (tracks & timers only)
Pinewood derby kits: $4.49 at the scout shop. Online they are also available in a gift wrap printed box for the same price.
Excerpts from the roundtable guide:
Why a derby? Derbies are a great way for Cub Scouts to create a vehicle and race against their peers. They help the Scouts show creativity, learn new skills, and show they can “take the high road” when things don’t go their way. Derbies are a great tradition for packs to revisit each year. But where do you start?
Encourage Scouts to actually build their own vehicle.
The task is a bonding experience for parent and Scout. The Cub Scout isn’t—and shouldn’t be— expected to do it all alone. But what about when Mom or Dad takes on a little too
much of the work? Make the task age-appropriate, and let the parents know what level of effort and skill their Cub Scout should be able to do. Tigers might need more of a helping hand designing and making their derby vehicle, while most Webelos Scouts know the science and the skills needed to make a race winner.
Check the rule book. Does your local council or district have special derby rules and regulations? If so, you should adopt those same rules for your pack’s derby. Following the
council’s rule book makes your winners eligible for district- and council-level derbies. And it ensures a level race for all Scouts.
Plan a workshop for building the vehicles.
How do you ensure the Scouts have a hand in making their car? What do you do for parents
who don’t have a wood shop at home? Bring them all under one roof! Host a building workshop where parents and Scouts build their project together and parents bring tools to share. It’s fun, and it’s a great way for the less mechanically inclined to learn a thing or two. Some of the best workshops use the assembly line approach.
Hold side races for parents.
Try as you might to encourage a Scout-built project, there are still some ultra-competitive dads and moms out there. Harness that competitiveness into a race just for parents (and/or siblings). In some packs, these parents-only races are used as pack fundraisers. The entry fee goes into a pot where the winners get a nice prize and the pack keeps the rest to help offset pack expenses. In other words, everyone wins.
Create a tournament bracket that gives each Scout several races, even if he loses them all. Try ideas like double elimination, lane rotation, and other formats. Scheduling is a decision for you and other Scouters, but you have several options at your disposal. Elimination-style races, where the first racer across the finish line wins, are the most exciting for live viewers. But these may favor the racers assigned to “fast lanes”—flaws in some tracks where one lane is faster than others. Round-robin formats, where every car races in every lane, are great for those with high-tech timing equipment to determine the first through fourth place winners. Otherwise, it’s hard to tell who’s winning that way. The size of your pack may also influence how you set up your racing schedule. Refer back to previous years to find a system that works best for your unit.
Giving siblings plenty to do. Families who have other children often bring siblings to the event. To avoid chaos, it’s best to have something to help keep the siblings occupied.
Make memories, take pictures.
A derby will be over in a couple of hours, but the memories will last forever. That’s especially true if you take official race day photos of Scouts and their families.