Pinewood Derby

March 4, 2023

Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, Scout Hut
12955 Memorial Drive
Houston, Texas 77079

3:00 check-in / 3:30 races begin

The pinewood derby is one of the most popular and successful family activities in Cub Scouting. Pinewood derby cars are small wooden models that Cub Scouts make with help from their families. Then they race the cars in a competition. The cars are powered by gravity and run down a track.

Cub Scouts can design and build their own car to enter in the race. Win or lose, Cub Scouts will take pride in having done their best. Cub Scouts learn craft skills, the rules of fair play, and good sportsmanship—things they will remember for life. Scouts must make a new car each year.


Registered Cub Scouts (kindergarten through 5th grade) and youth considering joining Scouts may register for this event. Please arrive early for check-in. Registration is $11.50 for the first Scout and $10 for each additional Scout and includes a patch.

Late registration begins 3/4/23; a patch is not guaranteed for late registrants. At checkout, pay with a credit card or electronic check. Council refund policyThere is no onsite registration; register prior to arriving.


What to Bring

  • Field uniform (Scout uniform) or activity uniform (Scout t-shirt) for registered Scouts
  • Pinewood derby car
  • BSA Health and Medical form for everyone onsite
  • Optional: chair, water, snacks, toolbox, camera

Pinewood Derby Rules

Cub Scout watching a pinewood derby race The goal of these rules, with the help of the workshops, is to have every Scout's car pass inspection. Questions concerning a car's eligibility can be answered at the workshops, so please take advantage of them. Race check-in is the wrong time to discover your a car is ineligible to race.

Cars built by outside sources and the purchase/use of axles or wheels that were modified by others is not permitted. This defeats the purpose of Pinewood Derby, which is a parent/scout building activity. Scouts are expected to complete their own cars with parent assistance and guidance, not vice versa.

Good faith compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the rules is expected – anything less is unfair to the other Scouts and a poor lesson for your child.   The race committee shall be the sole judge of a car’s compliance with these rules.

I. Construction Requirements:

A.    Length, Width and Clearance

  1. Maximum overall width, including wheels and axles, shall not exceed 2¾”.
  2. So car will clear the center guide strip on the track, minimum width between wheels shall be 1¾”.
  3. So car will clear the center guide strip, minimum distance between bottom of car, including any protrusions, and track shall be 3/8”
  4.  Maximum overall length, including all accessories, may not exceed 7”.
  5. Maximum overall height may not exceed 5".
  6. You are not required to use the “stock” axle slots. The wheelbase (distance between front and rear axles) may be changed so long as the car complies with all other dimension requirements.
  7. The nose of the car must be parallel with the front axle and at least 1/2" wide at the center (i.e., no pointed noses) to enable proper starting and timing.

B.    Materials, Weight and Appearance.

  1. Use only B.S.A Official Pinewood Derby Kit only. Use of the B.S.A. Official “Pre-Cut Pinewood Derby Wedge Kit” is permissible as well. No kits or premade cars from any other source are permitted.
  2. Weight shall not exceed 5.0 ounces. The reading of the Official Race Scale will be considered final.
  3. The car may be built up to the maximum weight by the addition of weights or other material provided this material securely is built into the body or firmly affixed to it. No loose materials or liquids of any kind are permitted in or on the car.  Mercury shall not be used. It is a health hazard.
  4. Details such as steering wheels, driver, spoiler, decals, painting, interiors and exterior details are permissible as long as the car satisfies length, width, clearance and weight specifications.
  5. Cars with wet paint or glue will not be accepted.

C.    Wheels and Axles.

  1. Only official wheels and axles from the BSA Official Pinewood Derby kit or purchased from the BSA Scout Shop are permitted. Colored wheels are allowed as long as they are official BSA wheels.  BSA stamps must be visible on wheels. Use of wheels and axles that have been modified by third parties is not permitted.
  2. Cars must have 4 wheels, with a minimum of 3 wheels touching the track at all times. Bent axles and rail riders are permitted.
  3. Wheels must be free-spinning. Bearings, spacers or bushings are prohibited. The car shall not ride on any types of springs. No assisted starting or other propulsion is permitted.

D.    The only permissible alterations to the wheel tread surface and width are as follows:

  1. The outer tread surface of the wheel may be shaved to a flat surface that is parallel to the axle.
  2. Light sanding and/or polishing of any portion of the wheel to remove burs is permitted so long as it does not reduce the diameter below allowable levels. No material may be removed from the underside of the running surface.
  3. The wheel diameter may not be less than 1.17“ or greater than 1.20”.
  4. Wheel width may be altered only from the side facing the car. The overall wheel width may not be less than .360". NOTE: because there is a “bulge” in the wheel, the overall wheel width is slightly larger than the width of the tread surface. The .360” measurement is for the wheel at its widest point, exclusive of the hub.
  5. Underside of axle head may be ground or filed to remove burs. Axle shaft diameter must be uniform may not be less than .085". Simple polishing of the axles should not reduce the diameter below allowable level. No machined or lathe turned axels are permitted.
  6. No wheel covers (i.e. hubcaps) are permitted.

E.    Lubrication.

  1. No liquid lubricants are allowed. The only permissible lubricants are powdered graphite or Teflon.

II.    Inspection and disputes

A.    Only newly constructed cars may be raced. Cars from previous years may not race for prizes or trophies or be eligible for design awards.

B.    Each car must pass inspection by the Race Committee before it can compete. The Race Committee has the right to disqualify those cars which do not meet these rules. Car owners will be informed of the violations and may, at the discretion of the Race Committee, be given an opportunity to modify the car to meet these rules. If the car cannot be modified to meet the rules, at the discretion of the Race Committee, the car may be allowed to run for time only, but in such case no prizes or recognition will be awarded. Scouts may be given the option to race in the Modified Division if the car cannot conform to official rules.

C.    Once a car has been inspected it may not be altered in any fashion. Any car taken for repair must be re-inspected prior to allowing it to continue to race. No lubricant may be applied after final inspection.

D.    Any participant or their parent has the right of appeal to the race committee for an interpretation of these rules. The race committee, by majority vote, will be the final judge of these rules.

E.    Any protest of a car’s compliance with the rules must be filed with the race chair prior to competition.

F.    These rules are to be used in conjunction with the “Official Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Kit” instructions, found inside the pinewood derby kit. In the event of a conflict, these Pack Rules shall govern.

III.    Race Format

A.    The track has three lanes. Each car will run in each lane.  At the discretion of the judges, the race may include running all lanes more than once.  Recognition will be awarded based on the cumulative total of each car’s times, i.e. the fastest average speed.

B.    If a car runs out of its lane, loses a wheel or interferes with another car, the race will be re-run. If that same car has similar problems during the re-run, that car’s time for that run is disqualified. The remaining cars will then be re-run without troubled car. At the discretion of the Race Committee, the troubled car may have minor repairs performed during the race.  Any car unable to complete a race shall not place.

C.    Good sportsmanship is a core value of Scouting.   Participants that do not adhere to this principle may be asked to leave.

IV.    Awards

  • Lion: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place recognition
  • Tiger: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place recognition
  • Wolf: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place recognition
  • Bear: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place recognition
  • 4th grade Webelos Scout: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place recognition
  • 5th grade Webelos Scout: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place recognition
  • Showmanship recognition


Notice!  Please be advised that promotional videotaping/photography may be in progress at any time at an event. Your entrance constitutes your agreement that the district has the right to reproduce your likeness in videography/photography for promotion (e.g., publications, internet, newspaper).

Scouting Safely

Safety is Your Responsibility posterThe BSA's Commitment to Safety is ongoing and we want you to know that the safety of our youth, volunteers, staff, and employees cannot be compromised. The Boy Scouts of America puts the utmost importance on the safe and healthy environments for its youth membership. The Sam Houston Area Council takes great strides to ensure the safety of its youth as well as the adult volunteer leadership that interacts with them. 

BSA Guide to Safe Scouting policies must be followed. All participants must follow Youth Protection Guidelines at all Scouting events. Highlights include:

  • Two-deep leadership on all outings required.  
  • One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is prohibited. 
  • The buddy system should be used at all times. 
  • Discipline must be constructive.

Health and safety must be integrated into everything we do, to the point that no injuries are acceptable beyond those that are readily treatable by Scout-rendered first aid. As an aid in the continuing effort to protect participants in a Scout activity, the BSA National Health and Safety Committee and the Council Services Division of the BSA National Council have developed the "Sweet Sixteen" of BSA safety procedures for physical activity. These 16 points, which embody good judgment and common sense, are applicable to all activities.

Youth Protection Guidelines     Guide to Safe Scouting      Sweet Sixteen      Enterprise Risk Management


For questions, contact the Pinewood Derby chair or district activities chair.