Pinewood Derby Stories and Photos from Maximum Velocity
PINEWOOD DERBY CAR SHOWCASE
On several occasions, I have showcased cars from Andy Holzer. Here are his amazing creations for 2011.
For my 2011 car I chose the Chrysler Turbine. Back in 2001 I pulled up to a stoplight. Another car pulled up beside me, and to my surprise it was a Chrysler Turbine car. I knew about the Turbine car as my dad had a model of that car in his display case when I was growing up. I rolled down the window to listen to the car, figuring the motor had been replaced, or the car was some sort of replica. But to my surprise the car made the turbine whistle as it drove away.
The Turbine car came in second in the pack open race and second in another race put on by a local motorcycle shop.
For my son's 2011 car, Noah decided to build the DeLorean DMC-12. Noah was in Boy Scouts, so he had to race in the open class with his old pack. Noah decided he wanted to build the stock DeLorean, not the time travel version. He used a Hot Wheels DeLorean as his guide to draw his plan. The DeLorean came in 4th place in the pack open race.
On Christmas Eve as we were leaving my sister's house, my nine year old niece came up and asked, "Can you help me build my pinewood car?" (At this point it was Christmas for me!) Of course I said yes. I asked her if she had the kit and the rules. She said she was going to get the kit the next time she went to her Wednesday church class. I told her mother we needed the kit (assuming it was an Awana kit), the rules, and if she could find out what kind of track the race was going to be run on.
We brought my niece to some hobby stores to look at cars to build. She liked a lot of cars from a '63 Thunderbird to a 2002 Camaro, but in the end she chose a 1959 Cadillac. I told her the '59 Cadillac could have come from the factory in a pink color. My niece told me she hates pink; she wanted the car to be black with a white top.
When she received the kit she called me and said the car needed to be completed the next Wednesday for the weigh-in. This left us only seven days to complete her car. We arranged for her to stay over for the weekend and also for the school holiday. When she arrived she drew up her plans for the car using some pictures and a die cast model of a '59 Cadillac:
The kit she had received was not an Awana kit, but a Maximum Velocity kit. The MV kit has excellent wheels and axles included with the kit and of course a very nice pine block (I would recommend this kit to anyone having a derby that does not require a specific kit, very good parts). Her block had been "pre-cut" by someone at the church so all we needed to do was finish it (yea right).
The rules said we needed to use the block included with the kit so we glued the precut block to another MV block and trimmed all of the precut from the block.
At her Awana race she placed 1st for speed and 1st for design.
In January 2010, just after the weekend of my son's last official Cub Scout pinewood derby race, a friend sent me a link to a race at a local motorcycle shop. It turns out the race was the same day as our pack pinewood derby so it had already passed. I thought to myself this would be a cool event. I found some online pictures of the event and I was hooked. Fast forward to January 2011 and the event was happening again.
Being that the derby was sponsored by the motorcycle shop I decided to see if I could build some sort of motorcycle car. I had done some drawings trying to make a motorcycle with a sidecar work; to keep the plans in scale proved to be difficult. Motorcycles have large wheels and when trying to stretch to the pinewood dimensions I would have an extremely short car (or bike).
I was having trouble making the Vespa narrow enough to fit over the wheels (1/2 inch wide centered). I decided I could just not make this plan work. One day I was down in the shop and I spotted some old PWD wheels (pre 1980 narrow wheels). I figured I possibly could make these wheels work with the Vespa. So I modified the plans to use the old wheels:
The rear axles are drilled at 2.5 degrees camber. The front axle was bent 2.5 degrees. I ran the Vespa down the test board and adjusted the drift. Now it was time to run down the 20 foot BestTrack. These were nervous times for me as I was not sure what would happen on its maiden run. It is a very tall pinewood vehicle; I made sure I had pictures of the Vespa taken from all angles (in case of a disastrous crash).
My son Noah was at the lever ready to release the Vespa, and I was at the stop section. On its first run it went to the rail and down the incline, just after the curve it went to the left and fell from the track. Turns out the wheel replacement peg I made was too short (probably a good thing to test before the first run). The Vespa was OK with no damage. I made a longer peg and tested it before the second run.
The second run it went to the rail and down the track without any trouble, I just wanted the Vespa to be able to finish the races without taking out any innocent cars in the process. I was off to the races.
The Vespa was indeed fast, it took 1st place in the stock class. The only car it lost to was the Turbine Car (once).
If you interested in Andy's technique for building these detailed cars, check out his article in Volume 9, Issue 9