Mills Crafts is a Christian family owned business that specializes in manufacturing products made of wood. FYI, Jesus was a carpenter too. Our primary business is Pinewood Derby Cars, Pinewood Derby Car Kits, Pinewood Derby Tracks, Pre-cut Pinewood Derby Cars and Standard Pinewood Derby Blocks. Our focus is to wholesale our products to retailers and distributors. However, for your convenience, we do retail from this web site and carry a few basic items. We would prefer for our retail friends purchase our products through our dealers and distributors. They carry a full line of Pinewood Derby Cars, kits and accessories. It would be much easier to purchase everything you need at one stop, saving on the shipping expense. Please visit our links page for dealers.
Our Site is going to address the needs of how to finish your Pinewood Racer to look it's best or as I like to say "To Finish Well". We start off by offering pinewood derby cars that are precision made to give the car builder a good base or foundation to start from. Then it's built up from there, one step at a time to"Finish Well." We will not neglect speed, we will show you how to make a fast car. We want your car to be quick, look good and be a contender for both speed and design awards!
Allow me to take a little time to tell you how we got started. My Dad is a retired military veteran. He served two tours overseas during the Vietnam war, over a year each time. I was 7 the first time and 9 the second time.
My Dad raced in the Soap Box Derby as a kid. He, his brother and dad worked on the racers together in their basement workshop.
My Dad told me many stories about Soap Box racing and promised me when he returned, we would build one together. I clung to that promise, hoping he would make it home to keep it. While he was gone I had some friends that were Cub Scouts, one of those friends was sanding on a piece of wood that looked like a miniature Soap Box Derby. I was so excited, I wanted to make one too. However my Mom couldn't afford to let me be a Cub Scout. Military salaries were not very good back then either. She also had to take care of three kids by herself with no help at all since we lived near the base where my dad was last stationed, George AFB, Victorville, California. When my Dad returned home he kept his promise. After a sleepless night, my stomach was in knots, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to race. My Dad assured me it was just nerves. We stopped at the local Seven Eleven to get some Tums and away we went to get my car out of the official impound at the Tacoma Mall located in Washington State where my Dad was stationed at that time. My car was loaded into a brand new 1972 Chevy two toned pick-up truck on loan from the local Chevrolet Dealer. Away to the track I went, me and my car whisked away, crowds watching. I felt like a VIP, what a day it was!
We built 4 Soap Box Racers. Never won, but did pretty good. Our cars looked good and were pretty fast, but most of all I had the time of my life. A very precious gift from my Dad.
During my Soap Box Derby years my brother became a Cub Scout and he entered the Pinewood Derby. He, my Dad and I worked on his racers together as a racing team. Much like his dad and brother years earlier. My brother came in second place in his 1st race and he won the rest from there. We were a great team. One year when he raced, one of the other cars didn't make it all the way down the track. I was horrified when the crowd laughed. I felt sorry for the boy who built the car and was embarrassed for the crowd. I couldn't help thinking that's what my car would have done without my Dad's help if I had built one.
That's when it began. I started helping friends with their Pinewood Derby and Soap Box Racers. I was just a kid myself about 14 years old but it didn't matter. I wanted as many kids to experience the joy that I felt and have never looked back.
When my two children were old enough to start making Pinewood Derby cars we were attending Calvary Chapel Victorville. They were both in the AWANA program at church. I asked the AWANA Commander if they had a Pinewood Derby event as many AWANA programs do? He said they didn’t have one. I inquired why and he said they didn’t have enough workers to even cover the basic program let alone an AWANA Grand Prix. I said what if I help you. You should have seen his face as he said, "you would do that"? I built a track, we ordered the official AWANA kits and we set the date. Our pastor wanted the whole church body included so we planned a BBQ and made a great day of racing and fun. We were having such a good time, adults acting like kids, kids acting like kids and the cheering was deafening at times. The church was located next to a city park. As we were having a great time we attracted some attention from the park as many children were hanging on the chain link fence witnessing the festivities. Pastor Paul was heart broken for those kids that they could not join in the fun. Pastor Paul asked me if there was a way we could build on what we did that day to include those children and perhaps have friendly competitions with other churches. That’s how we got Mills Crafts started.
When I started making Pinewood Derby Car Kits, It was my goal to make a kit that a novice could put together and by following a few simple steps, build a competitive car. A car that will make it all the way to the finish. I believe we've accomplished just that. We are very passionate about our hobby and we put the same effort in all our products.
We will also take on custom projects (one of a kind types) or high production parts for anything made of wood.
Not everyone can have a winning racer but everyone can have the time of their lives. That's our goal, to help people experience life to the fullest, one child, one family, one pinewood derby car kit at a time. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” John 10:10.
We hope you enjoy our site and would appreciate any feedback.
Thanks and good racing! Wes
History of Pinewood Derby by Wikipedia
|Owner||Boy Scouts of America|
The pinewood derby is a racing event for Cub Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America. Cub Scouts, with the help of parents, build their own cars from wood, usually from kits containing a block of pine, plastic wheels and metal axles. With the popularity of the pinewood derby, other organizations have developed similar events, and a small industry has developed to provide tracks, timers, scales, trophies, ribbons and other products. Similar Cub Scouting events include the raingutter regatta with boats and the space derby using rubber band powered rockets.
The first pinewood derby was held on May 15, 1953 at the Harmer House in Manhattan Beach, California by Cub Scout Pack 280C (the present Pack 713). The concept was created by the Pack's Cubmaster Don Murphy, and sponsored by the Management Club at North American Aviation.
Murphy's son was too young to participate in the popular Soap Box Derby races, so he came up with the idea of racing miniature wood cars. The cars had the same gravity-powered concept as the full-size Soap Box Derby cars, but were much smaller and easier to build.
The pinewood derby had a sensational first year. Murphy and the Management Club of North American Aviation sent out thousands of brochures to anyone who requested more information. The idea spread rapidly, and competitions were held across the country, mainly with recreation departments and nonprofit organizations including the Los Angeles County Department of Recreation. Of all that early enthusiasm, however, only the Boy Scouts of America made it part of an official program. The National Director of Cub Scouting Service, O. W. (Bud) Bennett, wrote Murphy: "We believe you have an excellent idea, and we are most anxious to make your material available to the Cub Scouts of America." Within the year, the Boy Scouts of America adopted the pinewood derby for use in all Cub Scout packs.
In its October 1954 issue, Boys' Life publicized the event and offered plans for the track and a car, which featured "four wheels, four nails, and three blocks of wood."
Murphy continued to run the derby program through the Management Club until his retirement from North American Aviation in 1978. He died in 2008.
In 2003, Pack 713 celebrated the 50th Pinewood Derby along with Packs 287, 759, 275, and former Cub Scouts from the 1953 Pack 280c. A shoulder patch for theWestern Los Angeles County Council that depicted a pinewood derby car and a message of honor to Murphy was released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the event.
In 1980, the design of the block was changed from a cutout block, consistent with a 1940s style front-engined Indy 500 car, to a solid block. The tires were also changed from narrow, hard plastic, to wider "slicks."
In May 2005, the Boy Scouts of America registered Pinewood Derby as an official trademark.
The Scout is given a block of wood made of pine, four plastic wheels and four nails. The finished car must use all nine pieces, must not exceed a certain weight (usually five ounces (150 grams)), must not exceed a certain width (usually 2-3/4 inches (7 cm)) and length (usually 7 inches (17.8 cm)) and must fit on the track used by that particular scout pack.
Blocks can be whittled with a hand knife or a bandsaw or Dremel carving tool for major shaping. Decals can be bought at scout shops or hobby shops. It is also possible to use standard model decals to replicate actual racing cars such as Richard Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird. The original style is based on open-wheel cars; however, fender or body kits are available, or wheels can simply be placed outboard of the body.
Other than the previous basic design rules, the Cub Scout is able to carve and decorate the car as he chooses. Many Cub Scouts also add weights to the final design to bring the car to the maximum allowable weight; coins, glue-in lead pieces, and melted lead are common ways to add weight. Cars typically vary from unfinished blocks to whimsical objects, to accurate replicas of actual cars. Graphite is usually the only lubricant allowed, and it often helps to polish the provided nails.
The idea behind the pinewood derby is for the parent, usually the father, but occasionally the mother or grandparent, to spend time helping the child design, carve, paint, add weights, and tune the final car. However, it is often the case that the parent takes over the construction of the car, an aspect of the event that was lampooned in the 2005 film Down and Derby, and also in a 2009 episode of South Park. The quest for a fast car supports a cottage industry that supplies modified wheels, axles, and blocks as well as videos and instruction books. While a pinewood derby car kit costs around US$4, a set of modified wheels and axles can sell for more than ten times that amount. Each pack sets its own rules under the guidelines set forth by the BSA and their particular local district. The aftermarket items are legal under some Pack rules since the parts originally came from an official Boy Scouts of America (BSA) kit. Complete cars can be purchased on eBay and elsewhere for around $100 to $200. Although these cars violate the spirit of the event, if not the rules, enforcement can be difficult.
The track usually has two to six lanes and slopes down to the ground, since the cars are powered by gravity. Tracks may be owned by the pack or rented. The race is run in heats, giving every car the chance to run on each lane. The racers can be grouped with others from the same rank (Tiger Cubs, Wolf Cubs, Bear Cubs, etc.), or can compete against the pack as a whole.
First, second, and third-place winners usually receive ribbons, medals or trophies. Some packs also award on the basis of car design. The first place race winners get to advance to the district level, then each of the district-wide race winners get to race each other from across the entire council.
As the popularity of the pinewood derby grew, other organizations adopted the concept. Pinewood derby is a registered trademark of the BSA, so most use different names. Each derby has slightly different rules for making and racing their cars.
The force accelerating a pinewood derby car is gravity; the opposing forces are friction and air drag. Therefore, car modifications are aimed at maximizing the potential energy in the car design and minimizing the air drag and the friction that occurs when the wheel spins on the axle, contacts the axle head or car body, or contacts the track guide rail. Friction due to air drag is a minor, although not insignificant, factor. The wheel tread can be sanded or turned on a lathe and the inner surface of the hub can be tapered to minimize the contact area between the hub and body. Polishing the wheel, especially the inner hub, with a plastic polish can also reduce friction. Often one front wheel is raised slightly so that it does not contact the track and add to the rolling resistance. Axles are filed or turned on a lathe to remove the burr and crimp marks and polished smooth. More extensive modifications involve tapering the axle head and cutting a notch to minimize the wheel-to-axle contact area. Note that packs can establish additional rules for what, if any, modifications are allowed. In some areas, no changes can be made to the axles or wheels.
A second consideration is the rotational energy stored in the wheels. The pinewood derby car converts gravitational potential energy into translational kinetic energy (speed) plus rotational energy. Heavier wheels have a greater moment of inertia and their spinning takes away energy that would otherwise contribute to the speed of the car. A standard wheel has a mass of 2.6 g, but this can be reduced to as little as 1 g by removing material from the inside of the wheel. A raised wheel can reduce the rotational energy up to one-quarter, but this advantage is less with a bumpy track.
Another consideration is the track itself. A track that is mostly sloped, with little flat at the end, can really allow cars with minimal mass in their wheels to shine. However, a track with a steep slope and then a long flat section can penalize such cars due to the quick loss of energy they experience once they have reached the bottom, when all potential energy has been transferred to kinetic and rotational energy. Such cars will take a lead on the downslope, but may be passed by cars with more energy "stored" away as rotational energy on the flat.
A proper lubricant, typically graphite powder, is essential. Wheel alignment is important both to minimize wheel contact with the axle head and body as well as to limit the contact between the wheels and guide rail as the car travels down the track. There are 32 friction causing surfaces on a pinewood derby car. These include the surfaces of all four wheels which touch either the axle, the body or the track and the surfaces of all four axles which touch the wheel. Neglecting to polish and lubricate any of these 32 surfaces will result in degraded performance. The center of mass of a typical car is low and slightly ahead of the rear axle, which helps the car track straight as well as providing a slight advantage due to the additional gravitational potential energy.
The pinewood derby was selected as part of "America's 100 Best" in 2006 as "a celebrated rite of spring" by Reader's Digest. The event has also been parodied by South Park in the episode "Pinewood Derby" and in the film Down and Derby.
The History of Pinewood Derby
Don Murphy, Cub Master for Pack 280C
In 1952, Don Murphy, Cub Master for Pack 280C, wanted to create a Cub Scout activity he could do with his son. At 10 years old, Murphy's son was too young to participate in Soap Box racing, so it was up to Murphy to think of another activity he could enjoy with his son and the younger kids in his Cub Scout Pack. Having made models all his life, Don turned to the idea of racing miniaturized cars down a pinewood track as a safe alternative to Soap Box racing.
When Don shared his idea with his fellow Pack Leaders, they agreed to help make his dream a reality. Along with some of his fellow members who knew woodworking, Don built a 31-foot race track. The track, little more than a ramp extending to a long straight-away, was also rigged with a finish gate made from door bells. When a car passed the finish gate, red and white lights would flash to signify the winner.
Pinewood Derby Car Design and Kit
The final step to Don's dream was making the derby cars. Originally, the cars were made of a 7 3/8'' pine wood blocks. Wooden struts held the axles, made from finished nails, in place. Overall, the derby racers were designed to look like Grand Prix race cars. Murphy also came up with rules to govern the races and make them feel official.
The design for pinewood derby cars has changed little over the years. The length of the car has been shortened to 7". The wood struts were moved to the current axle offset position in 1977. The wooden struts were removed altogether in 1980, and now use a solid pine block. The wheels have changed several times as well, with the thin wheels of earlier models changing to a wider tread in the late 1970s. Since then, the wheels for pinewood derby cars have remained essentially the same.
- How to Build a Derby Car
- Official Cub Scout Derby Rules - Building a Car
- Engineers Try to Build Faster Pinewood Derby Cars
The First Pinewood Derby Races
On April 17, 1953, the first pinewood derby car kits were handed out during a Cub Scout Pack meeting. The boys were told to finish their derby cars by May 15th if they wanted to take part in the race a month later. The day of the race, the Manhattan Beach Scout House was packed with Cub Scouts and their parents, ready to see the first pinewood derby. Before the race, Murphy separated his racers into classes based on their age.
The first pinewood derby was a hit, and wouldn't be the last. Within a year, pinewood derby racing moved out of the Scout House and into city parks in the Los Angeles area. The first city-wide race was held in Griffith Park on March 17, 1954, and people couldn't get enough. A second race was scheduled for 1955, and the Parks Department began handing out derby racing kits at over 100 city parks in preparation. 116 winners from smaller races met to compete in the first pinewood derby championship on March 12, 1955. As derby mania swept through Los Angeles, the Boy Scouts of America began eyeing the sport for a national event. Don Murphy gave the Boy Scouts permission, happy that he had made a contribution to the organization both he and his son enjoyed.
Boys' Life Describes the First Derby Race
Boys' Life, a magazine devoted to scouting news, made the first mention of pinewood derby racing in their October 1954 issue. A one-page article contained two pictures from the first race held at the Manhattan Beach Scout House. An engineer's drawing of a derby racer and a car kit were also shown. The article failed to mention how to conduct a derby race, or where kits could be purchased. The kits used by Murphy's troop were put together by hand, and there was no national supplier.
In 1955, model airplane builder Art Hasselbach was approached by the Boy Scouts to create a kit from Don Murphy's original design. His kits contained all the necessary parts individually wrapped and were boxed in sets of 8. The company, Beta Crafts, became the first official makers of pinewood derby kits and was the exclusive supplier of the kits until 1999.
The new kits were advertised in the 1955 Cub Scout Program Quarterly. The article told readers how to run their own pinewood derby and suggested it as an activity for the June Pack Meeting. A year later, the event was suggested not just for the June Pack Meeting, but also as entertainment during the annual Blue and Gold banquet. Pinewood derby racing was so popular that no scout function was complete without at least one competition.
Pinewood Derby Celebrates 50 Years
Pinewood derbies were an instant sensation, and continued to be so for the next fifty years. They have been held in city parks, Boy Scout functions, museums, and backyards. In March of every year, the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, CA, hosts the Blackhawk 500 derby. The museum took special care in preparing for the derby's 50th anniversary celebration. Scouts raced their derby cars in a display area surrounded by cars from the early twentieth century. Another 50th anniversary event was held at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Don Murphy, a father with a simple dream, was honored with a presidential proclamation from President George W. Bush. He also received honors from Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer as well as California Governor Gray Davis.
Additional Pinewood Derby Information
- Pinewood Derby History and Trivia (PDF) - Provided by Pack 798, this document contains derby history, trivia, and information on where to buy derby racers.
- The Physics of the Pinewood Derby - This page provides a mathematical breakdown of how to weight your derby car to get the most speed.
- The Pinewood Derby Book (PDF) - Learn how to get the most out of your pinewood derby car, along with a general overview of derby rules.
- OSU CAR Takes First and Third Place in The Dispatch Pinewood Derby - This article offers a breakdown of the car model and physics behind the OSU's winning derby cars.
- First Pinewood Derby? Do Your Homework - Learn what to expect from your first derby and how to get the most out of the first competition.
- Pinewood Derby Car Design Tips - Written by a father with six years of pinewood derby experience, this guide has tips on building a derby car or modifying an existing derby car.
- 100 Awesome Pinewood Derby Cars of 2014 - If you need ideas for your derby car, this is the place.
- Dremel Derby Days Building Guide (PDF) - Learn how to build a derby guide with this do-it-yourself guide. Though the guide specifies using Dremel tools, the guide can be used with any rotary tool set.
- Pinewood Derby Physics - An article in Wired magazine provides helpful tips on how to make science work in your favor when building a derby car.
- Official Pinewood Derby Rules - Familiarize yourself with the Pinewood Derby official rules provided by the Boy Scouts of America.