Pinewood Derby Stories and Photos from Maximum Velocity
For our Open Division, the rules are basically that it must fit the track, not interfere with other cars, not have anything hazardous (like mercury), but still be no more than 5 ounces (got to make it a challenge). Last year I used razor wheels and needle axles with my "Wind Tunnel" car to win the open division.
For this year, I drew inspiration from Randy Davis' prop cars. Last year, I bought an RC airplane from Harbor Freight, for all of $29.99, and got some good flying out of it. We also got a few good crashes (broke a wing and a major crack in the fuselage from a nose dive). I figured that I'd give that plane a second life as a Pinewood Derby car.
Here's what I started with:
So, I gutted the electronics, cut up the plastic engine mounts to use with the car. With the motor and the battery pack (essentially 4 AA batteries), it was going to be a challenge to make the 5 ounce limit. I had to use a lot of balsa and ordered some razor wheels from Maximum Velocity to save on weight. The only pine in the car is a thin sliver of the base, but even much of that was replaced with balsa.
So, here's what I ended up with. I call it the "Screaming Mimi":
One of the dents you see on the nose was from a test run on my floor. The car hit a door jamb, so I made a matching dent on the other side to make it a part of the design.
Results: It blew the competition away. Pun intended. Literally so, in one heat (keep reading).
Heat 1: As soon as the cars were released, I hit the throttle on the remote control. Zoom... Then I cut power as it crossed the finish. Up to that point of the race, the fastest time was 3.032 secs (208.0 scale mph) on a 40 foot Piantedosi aluminum track. It came in at 1.999 secs, 315.5 mph. There were high five's all around.
Heat 2: Zoom... This time it was 1.957 secs, 322.3 mph, its fastest run.
Heat 3: This one was going to be interesting. It was in the lane next to the bird car (complete with ostrich feathers). Zoom... Feathers go flying! Guys were joking about a bird strike. Fortunately, the damage wasn't too bad to the bird car.
Heat 4: Matched up against Evan's "Always on Time" car. What I didn't know was that while Evan was helping pre-stage the cars, he opened the hatch to my car and turned off the switch to the battery. You can see the switch in one of the photos above. So, the gate drops and I'm trying to hit the throttle, but nothing is happening!?! Laughs all around. Guess what...It still beat his car and won the heat. A fact which I had to rub in with Evan.
I disqualified myself afterwards, when we were announcing the results. So, Evan ended up with the official "bragging rights" for the open division. I was just doing it for the fun of it.
I wish I had it all on video. I even brought a video camera, but forgot all about it.
Originally posted on DerbyTalk
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