Use your Pinewood Derby track as an advancement ceremony centerpiece

You can get twice the use out of your Pinewood Derby track — and make an important point about the Cub Scouting journey.

It just takes some advance preparation to make your pack’s existing track the focal point for an advancement ceremony.

Use the track as a visual aid to symbolize a boy’s progress through Cub Scouting.

What you’ll need

  • Pinewood Derby track
  • Rank logos printed on large sheets of paper (logos are easily located via a online, or you can draw/paint your own)
  • Eight-inch sticks (or paint stirrers)
  • Tape
  • Awards to present to the boys

What you’ll do

  • Print the rank logos on cardstock or heavy paper (or print on regular paper and tape or glue the sheet to something heavier)
  • Attach the logos to the eight-inch sticks
  • Tape or tack the sticks to the siderails of the Derby track in this order, from bottom to top: Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, Arrow of Light. If you also have a boy crossing over into a Boy Scout troop, add a Scout badge to the top. Make sure the ranks are spaced evenly.
  • Tape the badges to be presented at appropriate points along the track. That way they’re handy during the ceremony.

What you’ll say

“We all had a great time at the Pinewood Derby watching cars race down this track. They really speed downhill, don’t they?

“Well, you can go uphill on this track, too. It’s a little harder, but it’s worth the climb from Bobcat to to Tiger to Wolf to Bear to Webelos and the Arrow of Light.

“Some of our Cub Scouts have been climbing this course, and now we’re going to show how far they’ve gotten. Will the following Cub Scouts who have made the climb as far as Tiger please come forward with their parents?”

Present the badges to the new Tiger Scouts. Then continue with Wolf, Bear, Webelos and Arrow of Light.

(Note: The illustration below is from 1977 and doesn’t include the Tiger rank, created in 2001. But it gives you a good idea.)


Like this? Find more in our app

This idea was adapted from a story I found in the November-December 1977 issue of Scouting magazine. You can access every issue of Scouting magazine ever printed — 1913 to today — in our app for iOS, Android and Kindle devices. It’s just $4.99 a year.

Just search “Scouting magazine” in your favorite app store.

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Special thanks

This post was powered by BestTrack, the company that designed and patented the first-of-its-kind, fully aluminum Pinewood Derby track in 2002. Learn more about how BestTrack can accelerate your Pinewood Derby at their website.


About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.


  1. We use our track at least twice a year. The local girl scout troops holds a derby of their own (many of the girls are siblings and friends of our cubs and our church sponsors both) . At the end of the cubscout pinewood derby, we have the top 3 or 4 girls and top 3 or 4 boys race to determine the top ‘scout’ in the city. Dan Tvaroha-Pack 2 Woonsocket

  2. I think this would be asking a lot from the boys and thier parents. Pinewoods are high intensity events and at the end they are tired and want to go home. The parents are ready to leave too. If the event is held in the evening it will be getting very late and everyone won’t be in the mood for a ceremony; if held on Saturday a lot of boys have sports on Saturday (at least in my neck of the woods). The ceremony would be good for the PAck meeting just before or just after the Pack Pinewood. I was a Cubmaster for over 5 years and have run around 15 to 25 Pinewoods a year for the past 25 years.

  3. I’m not sure I understand – are you saying have the ceremony after the derby or use the track at another time in a separate pack meeting ceremony? We have three tracks (Yes, three – one fancy-dancy computerized photogate track and two nice wooden tracks that were made years ago by ambitious den leaders and committee members) We always use two tracks. the official track and another that anyone can race on when they’re done. keeps the interest up with multiple races. we also lend them out to different packs and even to adult groups. Ceremonies after the derby is not the best idea due to how late finish is. using it at a separate meeting causes problems as out meeting place is not big enough to set the track up. But I like the idea. One thing I’ve always wanted in my many lives as a cubmaster (8 years in the nineties and early 2000’s with my sons and now again the past three years with my grandsons) is a small model of a Pinewood track. Something about the size matchbox sized cars could use. Now that I could see many ceremony possibilities for!

    • I believe that the point is not to have the Pinewood Derby the same day as the Advancement Ceremony. In my old pack, we did the PWD in January, Webelos crossed at the B&G in February, and everyone moved up a rank in May at our final Pack meeting.

      I think the point was instead of having this track that sits in the closet 51 weeks of the year, use it a 2nd time as a center piece for the Advancement Ceremony. When doing ceremonies think outside of the box.

      We did our May advancements at 2 different parks where there was a bridge. The Scouts gathered on one side and then moved up to the next rank. The adults greeted the new AOL (back then Webelos 2s) and then the Webelos 2s conducted the crossover for the rest of the dens. Another year, we did the same at a more rustic park where the “bridge” was a wooden log over a small stream. In both instances, the Scouts and parents both like it because we weren’t cooped up in the school in May. One needs to have a back-up plan, however, in Kansas as the weather can change in a minute in May.

      This is just another example of thinking outside the box to keep things new.

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