This Pinewood Derby display case is a functional work of art

At 100 members and still growing, Pack 1576 is huge.

Large packs have their advantages — trips and events are especially fun occasions. And there are plenty of qualified leaders, which helps distribute the work evenly.

But on Pinewood Derby day, one disadvantage became apparent. After check-in, inspection and several rounds of races, the Pinewood Derby took four hours. It finished at 10 p.m.

By then, says pack trainer Zeeshan Rasheed, “Cub Scouts, siblings and the parents were all showing ‘E’ on the fuel indicator.”

A change in strategy was needed, and that’s exactly what the pack did. Pack 1576, chartered to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling, Va., and part of the National Capital Area Council, divided the Pinewood Derby experience into three phases.

Phase 1: A Pinewood Derby workshop to help boys and their parents build the cars.

Phase 2: An inspection held days before the race. After cars were weighed and OK’d, they were “impounded” and stored in a secure case. (More on that in a second.)

Phase 3: Race day. 

But there was still one problem: Where do you store more than 100 cars between Phases 2 and 3?

“I put my handyman hat on and got to work,” Rasheed says. “With two weekends and a few nights well spent, I made this cabinet on wheels that can store 150-plus cars and can also be used for display purposes.”

The beautifully made cabinet has two sides with six shelves each. Individual slots hold 13 cars per shelf, and the cars can be viewed through a Plexiglas window.

The whole thing is 40 inches tall, 50 inches long and 9 inches deep. It has eight casters so it moves easily and a long hinge in the back that makes opening and closing a breeze.

“We take our Pinewood cars seriously, hence I made the car slots with insulation foam so they don’t bang around when the cart is stowed away,” Rasheed adds. “On the Derby day, there were lots of oohs and ahhs when we opened the case in front of the audiences. We love Pinewood Derby!”

Here’s a full photo of the finished product:



More Pinewood Derby stories

Boys’ Life is your home for Pinewood Derby coverage. Learn how to make a faster car, the science behind a winning Pinewood Derby racer, and ideas for making a Pinewood Derby car look incredible.


      • Bryan,

        I’d be glad to. One minor problem thought is my work product, i.e. photographs are protected by copyright.

        Let’s discuss the licensing fees the BSA is willing to pay for commercial use.

        • Sorry, TILII. I would be more than happy to share photos as a service to your fellow Scouters, but I have no budget to pay for them.

        • Bryan,

          Surely there is more than sufficient revenue being generated from the 9 different cookies and other assorted trackers being used to monitor and track people who post on this blog to pay fair market value for copyrighted work product. This blog is definitely a commercial service for the BSA and you are getting paid so there is no true service value here.

          Just like the BSA if I don’t protect my copyright I will lose it and I can’t be going around giving away something that has value for free.

    • No this isn’t news. This isn’t This is a blog about all things scouting related. I have been in scouts for over 20 years and never thought of or saw a case like this.

      I’m gonna have to make one for my pack.

      • This is not the way that the way that “most” do Pinewood Derby. Very few around here hold a workshop where the Scouts do their cars. Most are done at home with the parent(s) or grandparent(s) and of course we have that one Scout whose Father/Grandfather is an engineer that did not let the Scout touch the car.

        Our Pack impounded the cars the night before the race at check-in. No display case. Scouts can test run their car, but once it is weighed and turned in, the Scout cannot touch it until the races are over (unless it breaks during a race & then they have 5 minutes for repairs).

        I wish that the Packs I worked with did something like Pack 1576 did. Then, I probably would enjoy Pinewood Derby much more than I do. I guess I am bitter because the same Scout won the Pack Championship 4 of 5 years and could not tell me which car was his when he came to claim it after the races. His Grandfather, the engineer, usually won the Outlaw Race as well.

    • No pack any of my boys have ever been in has done Pinewood Derby this way across the past 11 years. I’m sure a few packs got some great ideas from this.

  1. Thanks for sharing this story. Pack 347 in Slidell, LA is a rather large Pack. We had 60 cars this past Pinewood Derby. The complete race took us 2 hours to complete but we are ALWAYS looking to improve our processes. I’ve thought about day/night before registration and never could wrap my head on how to implement it. This gives me some ideas.

    So again, thanks for sharing the story and see if you can figure out a ban hammer for our less than “Cheerful” readers 😉

    • Dave, my sons packed it a night before registration, & I can give you a few ideas on what we did if you’d like. My email is Scoutldrtom at gmail. Shoot me an email if you’d like some good ideas on how to implement a night before check in process.

  2. Dear TILII,

    What is with your always negative attitude on any post Bryan puts out?

    I think it’s time for an attitude check when it comes to Scouting for you
    or it’s time for you to find something else for you to do.

    As stated above, this is an idea, and a very good one at that, that Pack
    1576 and Bryan are sharing for the benefit of Everyone!

    My recommendation to you is to ‘Grow Up or Get Out’ Your constant
    negativity is something Scouting doesn’t need!

    CM Alex

    • Well CM Alex,

      Thank you for your recommendation. In the future, I will have to ask you to please refrain from attempting to bully me with that kind of language as that approach simply won’t work with me. Bullying, including cyberbullying, is not something we tolerate in Scouting.

      When you get around to taking Wood Badge perhaps you will learn that in Scouting feedback is considered a gift. Sometimes Bryan is spot on, sometimes his column is ready, fire, aim. I’m not keeping score here but I will continue to share my opinions, experiences, and observations. If Bryan carefully considered some of the comments and took the feedback he receives to heart perhaps his blog could actually improve and provide a better service to the scouting community.

      Part of being a good Scout is learning to be brave and to stand up for what you believe. I respect your opinion, please show equal respect for mine.

      • Dear TILII…

        Feedback Is A Gift…and in your case you need to open it, take it to heart and put it into practice.

        I don’t know of any WB Staffer, Participant, Scouter or Scout that would ever put up with your constant negative attitude for this long.

        Feedback Is A Gift…only if you put the advice into practice.

  3. *Sigh* Pack 1576 is a VERY large Cub Pack, well run and well organized by my experience. The ADAMS fully supports the Scouting program and they are to be congratulated .
    I remember Rasheed from some other Scout things. He is , if nothing else, a Scouters Scouter. Say hello to Mr. Salem for me. Salaam aleikum.
    As to whether “every Cub Pack…. has been doing Pinewood Derby ths way for decades”, well, if yours is such a large, successful Pack as this one, yep, you would evolve into a similar system.
    . Yes, it is a labor of love (for the Cubs!)

    TILII: I first thought you were talking about MAKING display cases, then realized you were talking about the PICTURES. Pro photogs are welcome here, and admittedly Bryan is a Pro Penner, but the rest of us are Rank Amateurs, I guess. I like sharing the fun I have with like minded Scout folk. Your professional work I am sure is well appreciated by those that need your expertise. And , yeah, I see all the ads around this page. Targeted. Paper newspapers did the same thing. Sometimes I even buy the stuff I see advertised. Sometimes.
    Meantime, remember WHY you are a “Scouter”. “The purpose of life is the planting of trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
    See you on the trail!

  4. The bullying is a response to mixing business with volunteering. TILI. One interested in a business venture could have just as easily replied to Bryan, “Thanks I’ll drop you a line.” And then offer terms confidentially, as most photographers with anything of value would.

    Making one’s preference to be part of a profit stream known to thousands of people who would rather not be privy to negotiations is businessman’s equivalent of disregarding the 5th point of the scout law.

    It might also be a response to minimizing the quality workmanship of a car case. (I for one have not seen one as nice!)

  5. Nice case for cars!

    I’m more interested in what big Packs do for race day. aka 50+ Cubs

    We’ve been in the ~30 Cub range for years and are facing a 50+ Cub year. That would make the event too long for us. We are looking at having 2 dens race first, then having a later start time for the other 2 dens. Immediately following would be a race for the top 3 for each den.

    BTW we are blessed with an aluminum track with electronic timer/software.

    Any thoughts?

    • I run a pack of roughly 100 scouts and our Pinewood Derby this year had roughly 75 entrants. We have a 6-lane aluminum track with the electronic timer/software. Our Derby usually only takes 90 minutes to complete; even this year when we had a glitch with the software and had to hand-record and hand-enter the finish times for each heat, we came in under 2 hours.

      The software we use randomizes (sort of–it’s not 100% random, but it’s enough to keep people guessing) the heats so that every car gets to race 6 times, once on each lane. We let the software calculate who wins each age group, but in the heats themselves anybody could be racing anybody–Tiger vs. Webelos vs. sibling, for example.

      We also have a good system of moving the cars from the “pit” to the starting gate and from the end of the track back to the pit. The pit has a hardcopy printout of all the heats so they can pre-load a tray with the next heat or two. When we’re moving efficiently we can get off one heat roughly every 60 seconds.

  6. great display. great photo. glad TILI is not one of the scouters in our pack, as he quotes Scout Law but not seem to understand it. thanks Bryan
    love your blog

  7. Nice case. And yes, this is news. I’ve never seen or heard of a pack that does things this way.

    My son’s pack did have several derby car build days, where the scout could pick out a template (or bring his own), get the car cut out (lots of families didn’t have the tools to do this) and get pointers on finishing the car. Some people who attended would even give extra parts that we hadn’t used from previous years. Wheels, axels, stickers, weights that were not going to be used were gladly given to anyone who needed them. The scouts were also shown how to sand their car and get them ready to be finished. Then the week before the derby, the track would get set up and we would have a “Test and Tune” night. This would take the place of the normal weekly den meeting. The scouts could run their cars on the track and get the cars inspected, weighed and measured. This gave the scouts time to fix any problems with the car before the actual derby, some cars would actually get fixed that night. They looked forward to the “test and tune” night almost as much as they did the actual derby. After the initial test run, the scouts could race their car against any other car and as often as they wanted to.
    Check-in on the day of the race went much faster because most of the issues with the cars had been found and addressed at the “Test and tune” night the week before.

  8. We add a twist to our schedule of events. We hold our weigh in / impoundment like most packs do a few days before the races. To keep the boys busy that night we set up a movie studio with green screen and lighting and occupy the boys time by holding Pre Race interviews. It breaks up the waiting time to check in the cars and keeps the finished boys occupied from running around the whole time. We edit the videos over the next few days and during intermission of the races we show the parents the videos on a projector. We have had a lot of positive comments how the parents enjoy watching them. We developed the idea to try and promote the boys answering questions from an adult while being video taped to develop public speaking skills. You really notice a difference from 1 year to the next, how they become more comfortable in answering the questions. We take it light hearted and have fun with it. below is a copy of my sons video from this year.

    • I am a Cub Master for a 30+ sized pack. We do every thing (registration, pit stop for weight, etc) all in one day by having stations. After the scouts register and pass through the pit, we have the movie Derby Day that we play while waiting for the races to start. I am always looking for new and different things to try and I LOVE the idea of pre-race interviews and them showing them during intermissions. It may be something we will look into doing. In the past we have had racing helmets and coats for the scouts to put on and get pictures taken. The scouts loved that too. Thanks for the great ideas!!

  9. Hi Bryan,

    Could you possibly list the contact info for that unit? I’d love to duo a similar cabinet and would appreciate if they can help me out.

  10. While we are at about 30 boys I found that the 1″x2″ boards work well for the staging of cars in between heats. I marked off sections and numbered them to correspond with the cars registered number

  11. I have not heard or seen anything like this either. Our Pack does everything in one day with the scouts building the cars at home. There are some great ideas on this post. Keep them coming 🙂

  12. My pack was over 100 scouts this year, and our derby entrants range between 55 and 75 per year. We’ve developed a pretty good system for our derby….

    1- Give out the kits and rules nearly 2 months in advance. That way nobody can make an excuse they ran out of time 🙂

    2- Hold a building workshop 2-3 weeks beforehand; this isn’t much more than having someone there with a power saw to cut out the design, but scouts can also design, sand, and practice tool usage.

    3- Have a weigh-in the night before the race. At the same time this is going on, the track is being set up. Scouts can test, weigh, and tweak their cars until they’re satisfied, and once it’s checked in and given a number it’s impounded. We use vinyl lattice panels laid on tables as our “pit” to keep the cars in place. We also give each car a sequential registration number so that we’re not relying on the scout’s randomly-selected racing number to find and select cars. (One pack I helped out used the car numbers, and with numbers ranging from 1 to 5000 and a couple of duplicates to boot, it was a nightmare. Their race took FOREVER.)

    4- The race itself is conducted solely by adults and boy scouts; the kids are there to watch. They don’t touch the cars unless it’s to make repairs, which hardly ever happens.

    With a crew of 5 to 6 adults, we can race 75 heats in roughly 90-100 minutes. Then we have a “championship round” with the top 6 racers which takes maybe another 15 minutes to set up and race.

    The scouts never stay 100% focused–usually by race’s end half of them are playing around in the back of the gym–but we have concessions, a photo “booth”, and sometimes some games like scavenger hunts to keep them occupied.

    I like some of the ideas I’ve seen such as conducting interview videos, printing “racing licenses”, and so forth. I might try to implement some of those ideas. However with a pack as big as ours, sometimes keeping it basic is the best way to go. There’s no way we could do everything in one day, the scouts (much less the parents) would never have the stamina to endure such a long day.

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