CAR Helps Local Boy Scout Troop Transform Pinewood Derby Cars

Posted: March 10, 2023

This winter, local Boy Scout troop 3111 had the opportunity to come to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and work on their Pinewood Derby cars in preparation for their upcoming competition. 

boy scouts working on Pinewood Derby cars in machine shop

After getting safety glasses for everyone, Shop Supervisor Max Wright and Student Research Assistant Pantelis Anton helped the kids transform their wooden blocks into race cars. Anton helped them use the belt sander to round the edges of the vehicle and sand down the axles, while Wright ran the mill for them so they could add in weight pockets. Both the kids and the parents had complete creative freedom. Wright says, “I like helping people imagine something and then be able to hold it in their hands.” 

While at CAR, the kids also got to see SolarCar and even use the joystick on CyberCar. One scout said that he wasn’t interested in making a Derby car, but quickly changed his mind after coming into CAR and seeing all the new tools he was able to use. He decided to race and ended up on the podium. 

boy scouts holding their completed Pinewood Derby cars

Some of the kids modeled their cars after the Buckeye Bullet design, whereas others made theirs in the shape of a basketball court (lovingly called the “Basketball Bullet”). These cars can’t weigh more than 5 ounces, and the difference in times comes down to mere milliseconds.  

At the competition, Troop 3111 secured first place, as well as 50 percent of the top four spots and 40 percent of the top ten spots. Assistant Professor Qadeer Ahmed, whose son is in Troop 3111, says that Boy Scouts allows his son to experience a wide range of activities and help him figure out what he likes. “Activities like this help change the boys' minds by giving them experience in different areas” he says. 

Written by Cassie Forsha, CAR writing intern

Category: Outreach