Pinewood Derby Racing Procedure

All races are run on a system of elimination by head-to-head heats. Timing of contestants has no bearing in determining winners. Cars must start from a stand still at the top of the track, and are powered only by gravity. The car whose nose is first over the finish line is the winner.

There are many ways to run a Pinewood Derby, and most of the rest of the rules and procedures can vary somewhat from Pack to Pack, or District to District. The rules and procedures are designed primarily to ensure fairness, and can be adapted to meet the requirements of your Pack. Make sure that all Cub Scouts and parents have a copy of the rules when they get their Pinewood Derby car kits.

Multiple heats are run to determine the "fastest car" in each Den to help prevent a fluke from changing the outcome of the race. Only the winner of each heat is recorded, because it is too difficult to have the finish line judges accurately identify the first, second, and third place cars at the finish line. Lane assignments change every heat. Heats continue until one car gets two wins. That car is then declared as "First Place" for the Den, and is removed from competition. Heats continue to determine "Second Place" and "Third Place" winners. Plan on six to nine heats per Den, at around 1-2 minutes each.

Depending on the number of Scouts in a Den and the number of lanes on the track, it may be necessary to split a Den competition in half. Determine first, second, and third place for each half, then race all six to determine "First Place", "Second Place", and "Third Place" for the Den. This can require on the order of 20 heats to determine the winners of a large Den. Plan you racing schedule accordingly.

Winners advance to compete against other Dens in their age group (if you have awards by age group), then to a competition for the whole pack. Den awards can be given right away, while the next series of heats proceeds. Awards by age group and for the Pack can be presented in an awards cerimony at the end of the Derby.

A Racing Chart can be used to keep track of heat results. Each Scout's name is listed on one line. Record a check mark in the "1st" column for heats competing for "First Place", and record a "1st" in the Place column when the winner is determined. Additional heats are recorded in the appropriate columns.

Schedule Tiger Cubs at the end of the Pinewood Derby. Tigers can bring a matchbox or hot wheels type car, which can be raced in the spaces between the lanes on the Pinewood Derby Track. This gives the Tiger Cubs an opportunity to see at least some of the Derby races and the awards cerimony.

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