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What Are the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Rules?

There are no national Pinewood Derby rules, so packs are free to set their own. However, if your local council hosts a derby and you want to send your pack’s winners, you’ll need to follow their official rules on car length, width, weight and wheel construction.

Race rules are a good idea because they simplify inspections, eliminate as much confusion as possible, provide guidance and create a fair race for everyone. Make sure you know what your pack’s rules are before you start building.

But remember, the most important rule is to have fun.

Official Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Rules

The following rules are included in every Pinewood Derby kit. They are not actually “official,” but many packs use them as the basis for their own race rules.


  • Width — 2 3/4″
  • Length — 7″
  • Weight — Not over 5 ounces
  • Width between wheels — 1 3/4″
  • Bottom clearance between car and track — 3/8″


  • Wheel bearings, washers and bushings are prohibited.
  • The car shall not ride on springs.
  • Only official Cub Scout Grand Prix Pinewood Derby wheels and axles are permitted.
  • Only dry lubricant is permitted.
  • Details, such as steering wheel and driver are permissible as long as these details do not exceed the maximum length, width and weight specifications.
  • The care must be free-wheeling, with no starting devices.
  • Each car must pass inspection, the owner will be informed of the reason for failure, and will be given time within the official weigh-in time period to make adjustment.
  • After final approval, cars will not be reinspected unless the car is damaged in handling or in a race.

Remember, every pack, district and council sets its own rules for their Pinewood Derby race, so make sure you check with your local leaders to get the official rules for your race.

Optional Pinewood Derby Car Rules

Here are some additional questions that are commonly answered in a pack’s race rules.

  • Must the car be built during this Pinewood Derby season? Or can racers reuse a car from previous years?
  • Is it OK to use a completed car that was purchased in a store or on the Internet?
  • Does your pack have a height limit for cars?
  • Does it matter which materials are used to make the car? Does the chassis need to be wood, or can it be made of plastic or metal?
  • Is it OK to adjust the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheel)?
  • Does the car need to have four wheels? Do they all have to touch the track?
  • Can the car’s front end protrude beyond the starting pin?
  • What adjustments are OK for the wheels? Can they be shaved, shaped or narrowed?
  • Can the axles be polished? Any requirements about axle length or diameter?
  • Which lubricants are permitted?

Examples of Pinewood Derby Rules

Wikibooks list of common Pinewood Derby rule variations

Pack 55’s Pinewood Derby Rules

Northeast Georgia Council’s 2023 Pinewood Derby rules

Northern Star Council’s 2022 Pinewood Derby rules

14 Comments on What Are the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Rules?

  1. Went to a pine wood derby today, and was surprised to see one father pick up each car and examine it thoroughly. This was just before the elimination race. Another father, just before the elimination race, took something out of his pocket and did something to his child’s car, then put the something back in his pocket. Is this legal?? I don’t feel that the cars should be touched by anyone other than the child or officials conducting the race. At all!! I was very disappointed how loose the whole procedure was carried out. I’m thankful all the boys were good sports when they didn’t win.

  2. Can Scouts use a specially designed car to win purchased from AMAZON?

  3. Derby the best // April 27, 2019 at 7:06 am // Reply

    That really helped me win the race!

  4. can you make the wheel holes wider?

  5. DerbyPerson // March 18, 2019 at 11:31 pm // Reply

    Yes! You are allowed to have fun, but I would not recommend having fun if you wan a fast car. Sure, you can add a funny paint job that won’t effect the speed but, if you add a Lego tower to your car, you will not get good aerodynamics, and it will make it slower. If this is your first time and want to be fun not fast, Sure be fun!

  6. rule follower // February 1, 2019 at 8:08 pm // Reply

    why are district pinewood derby rules posted in their website?

  7. How much time should the boys be given to make their cars. I have seen various opinions about this. Please give yours.

    • It depends upon the Pack. We start handing out cars mid-January. Our Pack holds 2 cutting days for those without tools, usually at the end of January and then 2nd two weeks later. We try to get our Pack level race done before the end of February, simply because our District race varies year to year.

  8. is there a height limit?

  9. Are you allowed to have fun?

  10. in jackson ohio are you aloud to make 1 wheel not be touching the track.

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