Fastest Pinewood Derby Car Designs | Maximum Velocity (2024)

At Maximum Velocity, we have some of the fastest pinewood derby car designs available today. Founder Randy Davis has a background in engineering and over twenty years of experience with pinewood derby racing. His valuable insight provides builders with everything they need to design race-winning cars every time.

To design the fastest pinewood derby car at your next race, you must first understand how these cars work.

The Basics

Fastest Pinewood Derby Car Designs | Maximum Velocity (1)Pinewood derby cars are gravity-powered vehicles that most often start on a sloped track held back by starting pins. When these pins are removed, the cars roll down the track towards the finish line, which is usually positioned at the end of a long, flat section.

The only force that can move the car is gravity. But because gravity is a constant force, there isn’t much you can do to increase it. However, there are things you can do to optimize your car’s ability utilize this force.

While gravity pulls the car down the track, friction is working to slow the car down. Friction is at work at any place where moving parts come in contact with each other: wheels touching the track, the axles, the car body, etc. Even the air flowing over the car body produces a form of friction that slows the car down.

So to build the fastest pinewood derby car on the track, you must maximize your momentum while minimizing friction.

Keys to Success

Champion car builders have discovered key secrets in getting the most speed from a car. Keeping these in mind will help you when designing your derby car for competition.


Lubrication is very important when it comes to creating a competitive car. Graphite is often used as lubrication and comes in very small flakes. Cheap brands have a lower carbon content and include impurities. Our Max-V-Lube brand features high-quality and high-purity graphite, which has proven to produce top results in pinewood competitions.

Wheel Axle Preparation

All frictional buildup in a pinewood derby car comes from the wheels and axles. When preparing your axles, make sure they are straight, polished and flawless. Polishing both the wheels and axles reduces friction and increases performance.


In order to increase the speed of your car, it needs to travel in a straight line down the track. Zigzagging causes the car the travel a longer distance, continually losing speed as it bumps and rubs against the guard rail.

Make sure that your axle slots or holes are perfectly parallel to each other, and that the axles are straight. We offer the Pro-Axle Press and the Prod-Body Tool to help minimize the need to align the wheels.

Maximize Momentum

Fastest Pinewood Derby Car Designs | Maximum Velocity (2)The fastest pinewood derby car designs feature proper weighting and distribution. Momentum helps a derby car continue to roll as fast as possible on the flat section of the track. The key to maximizing momentum is by adding weight.

Typically, races cap the maximum weight of a pinewood derby car to five ounces. To meet this weight, you will likely need to add two or three ounces of additional weight to the car. By adding weight to the rear of the car, you’re more likely to increase your car’s performance.

The type of weight also matters. Denser weights like tungsten and lead take up less space, so you’re able to reach maximum weight and place it at the back of the car. Since denser weights require less space, they allow for the creation of more aerodynamic cars.


This is the most recent addition to the keys to pinewood derby success. But after reviewing the research, the effects of aerodynamics on pinewood car performance in no longer considered trivial.

Low-profile cars with rounded edges and fenders will most likely outperform other pinewood derby cars. Adding wings, sails or flags most often will decrease the car’s performance by increasing air resistance. And tapering from a smaller surface area in the front to a larger surface area in the rear also helps with the air flow of the car, increasing speed.

Award-Winning Designs

To ensure the fastest pinewood derby car designs, follow these five keys to ensure success. But if you’d rather save time and research when building your car, then choose from a selection of Maximum Velocity’s Car Plans, which each feature three different winning designs.

These downloadable plans also include a comprehensive timetable, woodworking tips and helpful diagrams to help you easily craft your competition car. These winning pinewood derby car designs are fast, aerodynamic and put into practice the keys to success as mentioned above.

For quality products, valuable insight and comprehensive pinewood derby car designs, trust the experts at Maximum Velocity. Our all-inclusive knowledge and commitment to offering quality supplies will ensure that your next car will speed to the finish!

Fastest Pinewood Derby Car Designs | Maximum Velocity (2024)


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