Pinewood derbies can be memorable experiences that parents and children alike can look back on fondly. Involving creativity, engineering and friendly competition, it's a classic staple of Eagle Scouts' culture and one that will continue to live on for years to come. If you're taking part in a Pinewood Derby, you may be interested in its history, what you should know before building and some basics for building your pinewood derby car. Here's everything you need to know about the Pinewood Derby.
The Pinewood Derby started in 1953. When Cub Scout Donn Murphy was 10 years old, he wanted to compete in his local soap box derby run. There was only one problem — he was too young to race. The race was intended for those 12 and up, leaving Murphy unable to compete.
Luckily, Donn Murphy's dad had a great idea, and he proposed that the pack should hold their own derby using miniature soap box cars. Parents could help their children build cars before racing to see who had built the fastest car.
The first Pinewood Derby was impressive. It featured a 32-foot, two-lane track fitted with a battery-run finish line made from doorbells and light bulbs that switched on to indicate the winner. To build their cars, scouts were given a brown paper sack that held three blocks of wood, four nails and four plastic wheels. Word spread of the race, and soon other troops were doing the race too. It was a massive success and continues to live on today.
Even though more than half a century has passed, the fundamental rules of the Pinewood Derby have stayed relatively the same — using a finite amount of materials, create a car under 5 ounces that can win in a race. Even with such a simple premise, this allows for so much freedom for creativity and motivation.