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Created in hopes of encouraging good father-son relationships, Pinewood Derby car racing continues to bond, thrill and entertain us even today. This community is for all of you who enjoy Pinewood Derby Car Racing and is a great source for all your needs.
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This is your one-stop shop for Pinewood Derby Car Racing information, designs, rules, and more as well as Shape and Race products to help you win your race.Pinewood Derby Car Racing Fun!
This is THE place to be for all Pinewood Derby Car Racing information, designs, rules, and more. You will also Shape and Race products to help you win your race!
Pinewood Derby Car Racing - Promoting Kinship and Values
The Pinewood Derby car racing tale starts with a father and Cubmaster who wanted an alternative to the Soap Box Derby for his young Scouts. Back in 1953, Don Murphy, then Cubmaster of Pack 280C in Manhattan Beach, California, wanted to created, in his own words, “a wholesome, constructive activity that would foster a closer father-son relationship and promote craftsmanship and good sportsmanship through competition."
A hobbyist who’d made dozens of model airplanes, cars and boats, Murphy came up with the idea to have the boys create their own miniature racing cars carved out of soft pinewood. Since the cars were unpowered, the boys would have to figure out how to reduce the force of friction to gain the speed of gravity as the cars traveled down a straight, slanted board used as a track. Murphy got the Management Club at his employer, North American Aviation, to pay for the initial supplies and sponsor the event. Thus was born the Pinewood Derby, now one of the premier events of the Cub Scouts of America.
The derby was an instant success. With the Management Club's permission, the Los Angeles County Department of Recreation began holding pinewood car races. Then the national director of Cub Scouting Service, O. W. (Bud) Bennett, wrote Murphy: "We believe you have an excellent idea, and we are most anxious to make your material available to the Cub Scouts of America."
In 12 short months, the Pinewood Derby was adopted for use by all Cub Scout packs and promoted in the October 1954 issue of Boys’ Life, the magazine of Scouting.
The first plans for a pinewood car published in Boys’ Life called for a simple set of materials: "four wheels, four nails, and three blocks of wood."
So how do you win a Pinewood Derby these days? Just as when it began: by countering the force of friction with the force of gravity.
Pinewood cars today are still made of wood, but the metal axles are no longer nails and the wheels are plastic. Car modifications aim to reduce the friction from the wheel spinning on its axle, from wheel contacts against the axle head or car body, or contacts against the track guide rail. Wind resistance is usually a minor factor, but a second consideration is the wheels’ stored rotational energy. Heavier wheel have a greater moment of inertia and their spinning takes away energy that would otherwise contribute to the speed of the car. Graphite powder is usually used as a wheel lubricant.
Over the years, Pinewood Derby racers have enjoyed events rivaling those of life-size competitors. When the event marked its 50th anniversary in 2003, the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, near San Francisco, turned its annual "Blackhawk 500" pinewood derby for Cub Scouts into a golden celebration. Originally an automotive museum, the Blackhawk set up the track so that Cub Scouts raced their cars surrounded by historic automobiles from the early 1900s.
The Pinewood Derby’s inventor, Don Murphy, passed away in 2008 at the age of 90, but his invention rolls merrily along.