Build Two Cars!

That’s right—build two cars.

It is impossible for your child to win the Pinewood Derby if you, the parent, build the car. Even if your car comes in first place, your child will know that he is accepting a trophy that you earned. The Pinewood Derby is about more than just winning; it’s a time for children to learn skills and to develop a lasting relationship with an adult role model. Don’t rob them of these opportunities. It is absolutely possible to build a winning car and still allow your child to do most of the work. Here are a few suggestions that I use every year as I build cars with my sons.

Building Two Pinewood Derby Cars

Build Two Cars. Building two cars will allow you to teach techniques by example and to make any mistakes on “your” car.

When we build Derby cars, I build a car alongside my son. The technique I use is simple. My son watches me apply each step of the process to my car. Then, he does the same thing to his car. For example, I will demonstrate how to trace the car design onto my raw block of wood. When I’m finished tracing, he will trace the design onto his block of wood, having seen me do the same thing moments before. There will, of course, be steps that need to be performed by an adult for safety reasons. In these situations, try to find some way that your child can safely be involved in supporting the work you are doing. For instance, when I need to make a cut using a drill press and a forstner bit, I might let my son install the bit in the drill press.

Building two cars is also a speed tip that has helped us build faster cars and has saved us a lot of grief in the past. Because building mistakes and errors into a Derby car will not make it go faster, having two cars will allow you to make mistakes and have learning opportunities on “your car.” Then, you can apply the techniques correctly to “his car.” This is especially true the first time you attempt to apply a particular speed tip or method. After all these years of racing, we still build two cars every time.

– David Meade

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *