Where to Add Weight to a Pinewood Derby Car to Make it Go Faster (2024)

Where to Add Weight to a Pinewood Derby Car to Make it Go Faster (1)

There are some questions that have plagued mankind since the beginning of recorded history:

  • Why are we here?
  • What’s the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything?
  • Where should I place my weights on my Pinewood Derby car?

While we can’t help you with the first two, here’s what we know about placing weights in a Pinewood Derby car.

MAX OUT YOUR CAR’S WEIGHT AT 5 OZ

First, the basics: Your car should weigh as much as it’s allowed. In most races, a Pinewood Derby car’s weight is limited to 5 ounces. If your car weighs less than that, add coins or other weights.

As far as where you should attach those weights to your car … well, let’s just say opinions differ.

PUT MOST OF THE WEIGHT IN THE BACK

Science says the heaviest part of your car should be about 1 inch in front of the rear axle. The idea is that the farther back the weight is, the more potential energy you have because your center of mass is higher up on the track. (Don’t put it too far back, or your Pinewood Derby car will become unstable and pop a wheelie.)

Our expert says if you do this correctly, you will beat a Pinewood Derby car built exactly the same — except with the weight toward its front — by 4.6 car lengths.

That’s a lot of car lengths.

And you can’t argue with science, right?

PUT MOST OF THE WEIGHT IN THE FRONT

Well, we’ve heard from multiple field testers who claim that they’ve finished near the top of multiple Pinewood Derby races by placing the majority of their weight near the front of the car.

The idea here is that putting the weight near the front of the car gives it the tiniest bit of “head start” over a car with its weight near the rear. Or, perhaps placing the weight on the front of the car — in these cases, at least — forces the car to ride smoother down the track.

So where should you place your weights on your Pinewood Derby car? The ultimate answer is: It depends on who you ask. Our advice: Put your weight wherever you want, and spend most of your time polishing your axles. That’s a great way to reduce drag and increase your speed.

Good luck!

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Where to Add Weight to a Pinewood Derby Car to Make it Go Faster (2024)

FAQs

Where to Add Weight to a Pinewood Derby Car to Make it Go Faster? ›

PUT MOST OF THE WEIGHT IN THE BACK

Where is the best place to add weight on a Pinewood Derby car? ›

If the weight is placed towards the back of the car, it has longer to "drop" (by several inches) than if the weight is placed towards the front of the car. This difference is highly significant in terms of race times. Therefore, weight should be concentrated towards the rear of the car.

How to make a Pinewood Derby car fast? ›

For a fast car, you want the add more weight to the rear. The arrow car shape, for example, has a definite pointier front and slim body with cut-in sides that lead to a flared back end. You will want to ensure that the weight is slightly heavier near the rear wheel axle, so add weight to the flared back end.

Does paint add weight to a Pinewood Derby car? ›

Be sure to include wheels, axles and any accessories. Add enough of the wire weight to bring the weight up to 4.9 oz. The remaining . 1 oz is reserved for paint and decals.

What is the best placement of Pinewood Derby wheels? ›

Additionally, the wheels must be located directly across from one another. Finally, if rules do not prohibit, the rear axle holes should be placed 5/8ths (0.625) of an inch from the car's rear. Moving the rear wheels increases stability and maximizes speed by keeping the rear wheels on the hill of the track longer.

What is the best shape for a Pinewood Derby car? ›

Pinewood Derby Car Shape: The Wedge

The Wedge is the foundation of many cool car designs, and it is designed to be aerodynamic and is a one-cut wonder.

How do you drill holes for weights in Pinewood Derby car? ›

If the weight is over 5 oz, drill holes in the bottom of the block between the two axle slots until the weight is 5 oz. If the weight is under 5 oz. drill one or more holes in the bottom of the car just in front of the rear axle and insert enough of the Fine Tune weight to bring your car up to 5 oz.

What is the weight rule for Pinewood Derby? ›

All cars must pass the following inspection to qualify for the race: Width shall not exceed 2-3/4 inches. Length shall not exceed 7 inches. Weight shall not exceed 5 ounces.

How many coats of paint on Pinewood Derby car? ›

Step 3: Choose a color for your Pinewood Derby car. Then apply two to three coats of enamel paint to the car's body. Spraying the model with paint from an aerosol can is easier than using a brush. If you use a brush, dip only the lower third of the brush into the paint.

Should you sand Pinewood Derby wheels? ›

Sanding the wheels

Work up to as fine of grit as you can find. Only sand enough to remove imperfections and make the wheel round as possible.

Where should the balance point be on a Pinewood Derby car? ›

For smooth tracks, set the balance point at 0.75 to 1.0 inch in front of the rear axle. For rough tracks, target 1.0 to 1.50 inches in front of the rear axle.

What is the best center of mass for a Pinewood Derby car? ›

Place as much of the weight as you can approximately 1” in front of the rear axle. This is called the center of gravity or center of mass. Your Pinewood Derby car should be able to balance at this point on the car.

What is the ideal center of mass for a Pinewood Derby car? ›

Putting Pinewood Derby® Car Weight randomly on your PWD car is not the key to getting the most out of your build. Center of gravity placement should be between 1⁄2″ – 1″ in front of the rear axle. This is true for all wheel base types.

Which wheel do you raise on Pinewood Derby car? ›

The wheels are a significant source of potential energy drain on a Pinewood Derby® car. Raising the non-steer wheel (typically the front left) so it does not contact the track reduces the amount of energy used to start the wheels spinning.

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