Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Discussions on race planning, preparations and how to run a "fair" and fun race.
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Vitamin K
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Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by Vitamin K » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:45 am

Hello folks,

I'm the father of a cub scout (Tigers) and we just had our first Pinewood Derby. My son's car was fast enough to make it to the District races and, even though we didn't place there, it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun building the car and a lot of fun racing it.

However, my son's sister was a little left out. I let her build a car too, and she was able to race in the 'open' division at our pack races, but couldn't race at the district. My wife jokingly asked where /her/ car was, and it got me thinking that maybe there should be a local event to let more than just cub scout boys have fun with this whole Derby concept.

And so, I'm looking to organize a community Pinewood Derby race this summer. It won't actually be called 'Pinewood Derby', since that's a BSA trademark, but it will be essentially that. My hope is to borrow our pack's track and find a school or church willing to donate space for the event. Entry fees will be kept as low as possible and any funds left over will be donated to a charity.

So, I wondered, does anybody have advice for me on embarking on this endeavor? Any war stories or pitfalls to be aware of? Any suggestions or things that have worked well in the past?

Still in the early planning stages, so I'm very open to advice. Thanks much!



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by FatSebastian » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:00 pm

:welcome: Vitamin K!
Vitamin K wrote:My hope is to borrow our pack's track and find a school or church willing to donate space for the event.
If this event is to be community wide, you will want to secure a sponsor, such as a church, school, civic organization, business, etc., that has liability insurance that will generally cover your event. You will also want a sponsor's organizational assistance to advertise and promote the event in order to attract attention during the summer. For example, you might solicit a local car dealership or mall wanting to attract customer traffic, and perhaps let them "rent" your local Pack's track (that is, they provide a gratuity to the Pack) to make the risk worthwhile for whomever is donating the track.
Vitamin K wrote:Entry fees will be kept as low as possible and any funds left over will be donated to a charity.
Are entry fees necessary? You would do well to seek a sponsor to cover things like trophies, etc.
Vitamin K wrote:Any war stories or pitfalls to be aware of?
You should craft your race rules carefully in order to achieve your goals. You may find many more people willing to race a car that was already built, rather than build a car especially for this event; to attract the broadest participation, rules may need to be rather general and applicable to a variety of different kits. However, this has it own complications.

Ideally, I might suggest that you talk to your District's event coordinator and see if you can help to organize a sibling / open category to be added next season. That would be much easier than trying to organize a community race independently, and give you experience that could be applied to a community-wide event, if you decided to pursue it later.
Last edited by FatSebastian on Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by whodathunkit » Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:53 pm

FatSebastian wrote: You would do well to seek a sponsor to cover things like trophies, etc.
Talk to autoparts chain stores, collision / paint & body shops or tire shops, even your towns recreation center.


What type of automobile can be spelled the same forwards & backwards?

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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by Vitamin K » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:14 pm

Thanks for the feedback, guys. At this point, securing a venue is my biggest concern. Any tips or suggestions for how to approach organizations to be willing to sponsor (e.g. host) such an event?

I'm not sure about the whole pre-made car thing, since building the dang things is even more fun than racing them. Having a car-building workshop in addition to the actual race would be a possibility, though.

Another fleeting thought that passed through my mind would be allowing any sponsoring group to enter a car in the race, possibly bearing their logo or symbol...but that might be a little too involved for the simplicity of the event that I'm aiming for.

Edit: So, I re-read what you wrote, and I think I misinterpreted it. I think you were suggesting that people be allowed to bring cars that they've raced in past events? I'd be perfectly fine with that.



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by Speedster » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:16 am

Vitamin K, Welcome to Derby Talk.
I was involved in 2 community wide Derbys, one of them hosted by the Owens Corning Corporation the year they were the Pacesetter for the United Way. Owens Corning happens to have their World Headquarters in Toledo, OH.
Cub Scouts are well behaved young children.
My advice to you is this:
Hire an Off-Duty Uniformed policeman and do NOT serve alcohol or allow it on the premises. If you would like lots of details, please email me.
Speedster



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by Vitamin K » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:02 am

Speedster wrote: I was involved in 2 community wide Derbys, one of them hosted by the Owens Corning Corporation the year they were the Pacesetter for the United Way. Owens Corning happens to have their World Headquarters in Toledo, OH.
Cub Scouts are well behaved young children.
Well, relatively well-behaved. ;) I am hoping my son gets better about that as he progresses.

This wouldn't be limited to cub scouts though. It would be open to anybody who wanted to come run a car.
Speedster wrote: My advice to you is this:
Hire an Off-Duty Uniformed policeman and do NOT serve alcohol or allow it on the premises. If you would like lots of details, please email me.
Speedster
I had never even considered allowing alcohol at a Pinewood Derby (though, it does sound like a hilarious setup for a comedic movie...but not on /my/ watch).

I had not thought about the possibility of needing security...part of the reason I'm collecting feedback. :mrgreen: Of course, hiring an off-duty officer does increase our budget requirements by quite a bit, which would make securing sponsorship even more important.

Will definitely shoot you an email. I'd like to hear about your experiences in more detail.



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by Derby Gurus » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:30 am

Vitamin K

I'd be happy to donate a couple of Grand Stand displays for raffle/fundraising purposes, along with some wristbands to give out.

Contact me through Derby Gurus when you're ready.

Chris



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by Vitamin K » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:08 pm

Very generous of you, Chris!

Still much too early to be able to take you up on such an offer (still assessing feasibility), but I will definitely let you know if anything shapes up!

-Kurt
Derby Gurus wrote:Vitamin K

I'd be happy to donate a couple of Grand Stand displays for raffle/fundraising purposes, along with some wristbands to give out.

Contact me through Derby Gurus when you're ready.

Chris



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by FatSebastian » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:36 pm

Vitamin K wrote:I think you were suggesting that people be allowed to bring cars that they've raced in past events?
I could have been clearer. Yes, I was suggesting that you may get greater participation and interest by allowing "pre-raced" cars and/or non-Scout kits. This type of community race may be most attractive to non-Scout families, and thus they may already have cars, parts, or experiences from derbies that used non-Scout kits. My point was that your rules should be crafted according to what you are trying to accomplish as it relates to the possibility of non-Scout kits.



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by Vitamin K » Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:07 pm

Yes, definitely a balancing act to be had here. On one hand, I want to cut down on the amount of (IMO) unsporting tweaks that more experienced racers can get away with, but, on the other hand, I don't want it to be an obstacle to participation.

On a tangential note...why why why do the kits that Pinecar sells in Michael's come with non-BSA-legal wheels? :burningmad: I know that Pinecar sells BSA legal wheels...so why not include them in their kits? Michaels should put pressure on them to change this, since 90% of the people buying kits from their stores are likely doing so for the Pinewood Derby.

Okay, done ranting. :sweating:
FatSebastian wrote:I could have been clearer. Yes, I was suggesting that you may get greater participation and interest by allowing "pre-raced" cars and/or non-Scout kits. This type of community race may be most attractive to non-Scout families, and thus they may already have cars, parts, or experiences from derbies that used non-Scout kits. My point was that your rules should be crafted according to what you are trying to accomplish as it relates to the possibility of non-Scout kits.



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by FatSebastian » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:52 pm

Vitamin K wrote:I know that Pinecar sells BSA legal wheels...so why not include them in their kits?
Michael's sells both Pinecar and Revell branded supplies. Pinecar does not offer BSA-legal wheels. Revell components are, on the other hand, "officially licensed" by the BSA.



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by Vitamin K » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:06 pm

FatSebastian wrote:Michael's sells both Pinecar and Revell branded supplies. Pinecar does not offer BSA-legal wheels. Revell components are, on the other hand, "officially licensed" by the BSA.
Well, Pinecar does sell these on their site: http://pinecar.woodlandscenics.com/show ... 388/page/1" target="_blank I guess my point is that they could use BSA legal wheels if they wanted to, they just choose not to. I just don't see a good reason for it, but...ah well. Getting off topic anyhow. ;)



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by FatSebastian » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:27 pm

Vitamin K wrote:I guess my point is that they could use BSA legal wheels if they wanted to, they just choose not to.
:idea: Oh, I get you now. Yes, they could buy and resell BSA wheels with Pinecar kits; however, because Revell has a licensing agreement with BSA, there may be legal reasons why other kit makers like Pinecar can't "choose to" do the same. (The particular product you linked to are pre-2009 five-wheel sets which have not been offered by BSA in years, and they would pose a disadvantage relative to newer BSA wheels.)



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by dna1990 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:42 pm

I assume some of the major goals are: a fun event, an event that appeals to a wider audience, something without many barriers to entry, and another excuse to build something with a kid...

I would aim for a simple, open, and fun event. At least the first time. Meaning provide a venue and track. Keep some very basic dimension/weight rules in place (for protection of the track)...but don't have any other rules. Will some PWDrs use that to build outlaw style cars - probably. Will some newbie use that to buy the Pinecar kit, yea. But I think that is what you are after, give parents a reason to buy that kit and get in the garage with their child. Specs and rules, and millisecond timers are not needed for a successful event like this. A car that rolls with lots of little fingerprints on it is all ya need.

I would even consider buying a pile of car 'blanks' that are 97% built and can be completed and decorated AT your event.

If this takes off and you get some sponsor looks, then expand next year to have a competitive division, etc. Throw in some trophies.


But if you are trying to take the usual scout PWD to the public...I think you will get a few scouts (and dads) who are really into it, and nobody else. Especially if they see a bunch of rules and limits on what kits/parts can be used.

Make your race, if it fits the track - it races. Throw in some cheap ribbons, take lots of photos, get the community involved, call it a huge success.



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Re: Looking to run a community Pinewood Derby race

Post by Vitamin K » Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:24 pm

dna1990 wrote:I assume some of the major goals are: a fun event, an event that appeals to a wider audience, something without many barriers to entry, and another excuse to build something with a kid...
Yeap, pretty much spot on, there.
dna1990 wrote: I would aim for a simple, open, and fun event. At least the first time. Meaning provide a venue and track. Keep some very basic dimension/weight rules in place (for protection of the track)...but don't have any other rules. Will some PWDrs use that to build outlaw style cars - probably. Will some newbie use that to buy the Pinecar kit, yea. But I think that is what you are after, give parents a reason to buy that kit and get in the garage with their child. Specs and rules, and millisecond timers are not needed for a successful event like this. A car that rolls with lots of little fingerprints on it is all ya need.

I would even consider buying a pile of car 'blanks' that are 97% built and can be completed and decorated AT your event.

If this takes off and you get some sponsor looks, then expand next year to have a competitive division, etc. Throw in some trophies.
That's more or less the plan. Start small. Have fun. Build interest. Plan for bigger and better next time. The track that (hopefully) have access to is an old fashioned wooden one, without electronic scoring, so races will have to be judged by eye (possibly with video camera backup). That being the case, I imagine I'm going to have to limit the number of participants.

Still fretting over the rules. I want to minimize abuses, but still be inclusive. Will probably enforce weight limits, but be lenient about things like wheels, so that Pinecar kits can race. I will probably have a list of things that are discouraged (buying cars on eBay, filing your wheel width down, etc), but not actually disqualify any cars based on that.

No matter how it pans out (If I can indeed make it happen), it will be a learning experience.



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