The wooden race cars that Cub Scouts have made for years – Pinewood Derby racers – aren’t just for young folks anymore. A significant number of adults have taken up the hobby in recent times and taken to the track.
Racing in places like bars and community centers, the older generation of Pinewood Derby racers is a competitive bunch and put a bit of time and money into the hobby. Some of the races are fundraisers for scout troops, but others are for larger cash prizes. Pinewood Derby is a registered trademark of the Boy Scouts of America, so most of the non-scout related races usually use names other then Pinewood Derby, as well as slightly different rules for making and racing the cars. Many of the current crop of competitors were scouts themselves, or have helped their own sons build cars and realized they missed the action.
A California Cub Scout leader invented the Pinewood Derby in 1953 back when the cars required minimal parts (a block of wood, four nails and four tires). The cars have come a long way, with more intricate paint jobs and high-tech parts to maximize the speed the car will achieve.
The increase in popularity of these wooden racers is also good news for companies such as The Derby Magic Company in Michigan, who design and manufacture tracks for Pinewood Derby races using custom PVC, and Connecticut-based Pinewood Pro, who manufacture wood blocks and other parts for the cars, including designs. Pinewood Pro offers the wood blocks pre-cut to resemble Corvettes, Mustangs and other types of cars, as well as precision-drilled blocks for true axle alignment, and even a pre-built car.