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Pinewood Derby - what's your secret?

Things went as good as they could have! The girls ended up getting 1st and 2nd place overall out of the 21 cars entered in their class.
Here are a few pics from their heat races and the awards. All in all this is a fun event the girls have looked forward to over the past few year. The sad thing is the group is growing smaller and smaller every year with all the other activities kids can get involved with these days.






A printout of their individual times (they add the best 3 of your 4 heat times to determine the winners) and the overall results.



Here is what I did for 'go-fast' stuff.

Of course you need to shoot for max allowed weight for your race. Everything I've read says to center the weight to the rear of the car, about 1 to 1.5 inches in front of the rear axle.

From there I got this assortment of sandpaper from an automotive store to polish the axles. I cut it into strips, started with the 1000 grit and worked my way up to the 2500 grit using my Dremel in a vise. They end up with a mirror shine.




I then use 'Lemon Pledge' as my secret lubricant (fugg that messy graphite). A few days before the race I gave the axles a few shots of it, let it dry, and gently wiped any extra off. Then be careful not to get the oil from your fingers on them when you attach the axles.



I also sand a bit of the car away where the wheel will contact the body. Then hit the area with the buffer tool from the Dremel.


And lastly it seems the cars get faster after a few runs down the track, so take a few practice runs if you can (3 or 4).

Didn't take too much effort and the kids still got to do the 'fun' parts.