Best of the best race at 2017 Pinewood Derby World Championship in New York

Cub Scouts don’t let a little rain ruin the day. They adapt.

Same goes for the Greater New York Councils, organizers of the 2017 Pinewood Derby World Championship last month in New York City.

Even though morning thunderstorms forced the competition to change locations at the last minute, GNYC put on another successful event.

The 276 Cub Scouts came from 26 different states and represented 60 different BSA local councils. The racers qualified by finishing in the top three at their district or council races.

The epic Pinewood Derby event, now in its third year, was scheduled for the heart of Times Square — mere feet away from those iconic red steps atop the TKTS ticket booth.

But Mother Nature had different plans, and so did the Greater New York Councils.

They moved to their rain location: inside the Marriott Marquis hotel a block away.

“The Marriott was amazing to us, letting us use the room for free and bending over backwards to accommodate the more than 2,000 people in attendance,” says Dave Swartz, the councils’ program director.

Race day fun

When they weren’t cheering on Pinewood Derby cars, the Cub Scouts and other spectators got to build and race Lego Pinewood Derby cars on an exhibition track.

During breaks between races, hosts interviewed Cub Scouts to learn about their stories. Songs from a pop-heavy playlist got the crowd dancing and singing.

Cub Scouts from Maine to California and from Washington state to Florida entered one of two divisions: Stock Car or Pro Stock. The Pro Stock division allowed entrants to modify their wheels and axles; the Stock Car division did not.

Why two divisions? Because not every district or council has the same rules. This allowed Cub Scouts to race on a level playing field.

In the early rounds, Cub Scouts of similar rank raced against one another. Tigers vs. Tigers, Wolves vs. Wolves, etc.

The top three finishers in each of the five ranks — 15 in all — got trophies. These 15 became the “Fast 15” and competed in a final mini-tournament for their division’s Champions Cup.

This yielded two overall winners — Stock Car and Pro Stock — whose names and pictures I have included at the end of this post.

Naturally, there were design trophies, too. Some ultra-creative Cub Scouts went home with awards for Most Patriotic, Best Paint Job, Best Scout Theme, Most Creative and Most Realistic.

Bonus photos!

2017 Pro Stock Champions Cup Winner

Michael Olsey, Webelos I, Westchester-Putnam Council (based in Hawthorne, N.Y.)

2017 Stock Car Champions Cup Winner

Gregory Merkel, Webelos II, Suffolk County Council (based in Medford, N.Y.)

Photos by Jose Galletti. Thanks to Dave Swartz of the Greater New York Councils for the info.


  1. How do scouts find out about this?! My Scout had placed at district twice (1st as Tiger and 3rd as Cub) and as far as we knew, that’s it.

    • Your Council. Surely they hold a council pinewood derby where district level winners advance to. Contact your D.E.

      • Not all councils do this, I know ours does not. We barely have district level races. Our district level race is put on by our local chapter of the Order of the Arrow as this was the only way we could get people to run it. I think we all assume all councils run similarly, but they so do not. Part of the issue here is if you live in the North West corner of our council it’s a 9.5 hour drive to the South East corner. We cover the same square acreage as the entire state of New Jersey. Then there are councils that go over State lines, and then there are councils that divide single cities —

        • Avery, here you loud and clear despite the heavy rains today. What best sums your comments: Bigger is not necessarily BETTER. Keep it simple and SMALL…

        • Since no one else will say it, I will. Your council is not serving your scouts. If they won’t do it, then you step up and get it done.

          Show them what a volunteer will do. Shame them into serving your scouts.

          Tell me I am wrong.

          I await the flaming.

      • The Grand Teton Council in Idaho/Wyoming doesn’t. Many units out here share Pinewood Derby tracks (because they’re expensive) so individual units may be having races at any time during the year — it’s not all in one month. We’ve considered having District/Council events, but the logistics are just too difficult.

    • Go to the World Championship website and register your email. I found it while surfing on Derby sites last year to get ready for Powder Puff Derby for the Girl Scouts. My son won District his last 3 years and we always thought that was it….until last year. Glad I found it for his last year. He won the Webelos 2 Pro Stock World title. Fun time.

  2. Avery: You bludgeoned the thin cylindrical ferrous rod on it’s topknot. Districts and Councils, even if they do have highly paid (!!) professionals, operate on the backs, arms and minds of Scout devoted volunteers, like me and you (right?). As the saying says, “the work is done by whoever shows up”. If no one shows up, guess what ?
    Outside the Unit, the bigger organization and opportunities depend often on folks whose sons (and daughters?) have aged out, but still see the value of Scouting. Perhaps the older Scouter without any grandkids, or the parent who’s Scout is off doing “adult” things….. that’s why you will often see me leading IOLS or being the RSO for Cub Scout toxophilites, or teaching ropes and knots at CSDC.
    Talk it up. email newsletters, letters to the editor, neighbors, “why doesn’t somebody do…. something….”

  3. His first year, my son came in first against Tigers, second racing the other ranks. The second year came in first in Wolf at district, the rank winners did not race the other ranks.

  4. Bryan,

    For the sake of someone that Runs a Very Large District (350+ Cars) Race… PLEASE do not show any great photos of the cars… it stops the Scouts from getting a chance to design there car because the Dad / Parent / Adult takes over and tries to rebuild the car that one last time – I have seen many of times the Adult will not even let the kid touch or carry the car… and even never seen the car before it made it to the race. I think that many Adults forget what the Pinewood Derby vision was when it came about… its about a Scouts getting to work with a Dad / Parent / Adult to build something together.. It gives the Adult a chance to teach there Scout about taking there time, how to use some basic tools, and having a finish product that both the adult and Scout can be proud they built together…. the few photos that I see of the cars point at this at this very thing.. .I see some where a parent or leader has to be in the photo holding the car or touching the Trophy. For those Adults that want to build, and race there own car there is other options then taking the race away from 12 year olds Scouts! Besides that I have seen where what Adults will pay for parts, jigs, tools, and test track to be over $1000’s

    I like to recommend to the Packs in our District that a good rule of thumb for a Scout being involved in building of there car is Tiger helps in 40% of the car, Wolf 50% of the Car, Bear 60% of the Car, Web 1 75% of the Car and Arrow of light should be 85%. When we talk about a Scout being involved that means breaking the build of the car into parts.. such as cutting, shaping, sanding, weighting, wheels and axles, and paint. If they did 50% of the work on a task then that counts as towards doing the that task…if they had completed the recommend present of there car – Its a truly “Scout Built Car!!” – sure its not perfect but it really helps keep the Scouts engaged!!

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