The first Pinewood Derby® was held in 1953 by Cub Scout Pack 280C of Manhattan Beach, California, operated by the North American Aviation Management Club. It was the brainchild of Cubmaster Donald Murphy. The derby, publicized in Boys' Life in October 1954, was an instant and enduring hit. The magazine offered plans for the track and car, which featured "four wheels, four nails, and three blocks of wood."
The rules of the very first race stated: "The Derby is run in heats - two to four cars starting by gravity from a standstill on a track and run down a ramp to a finish line unaided. The track is an inclined ramp with wood strips down the center to guide the cars." The cars still roll that way today.
Pack 681's track is 15 meters and has 3 racing lanes. Your imagination is the limit to your design! Here are a few things to remember:
- Use what's in the box. To keep things fair, aftermarket wheels and axles are not permitted.
- Don't alter the wheel base! The cars race down a slotted track. The width of the pine block is designed such that the wheels fit over the slot. You can alter any other dimension, but if you alter the wheel base, your car won't ride down our track.
- Avoid a skinny or pointed nose. The car may not sit properly on our starting gate
All cars must pass the following inspection to qualify for the race:
- Width shall not exceed 2-3/4 inches.
- Length shall not exceed 7 inches.
- Weight shall not exceed 142 grams.
- Axles, wheels, and body shall be from the materials provided in the kit.
- Wheel bearings, washers, and bushings are prohibited.
- No lubricating oil may be used. On the day of the race we will provide all racers with graphite grease
- The car shall not ride on any kind of spring.
- The car must be free-wheeling, with no starting devices.
- No loose materials of any kind are allowed in the car.