Pinewood Derby Trucks
By David Kolman
I recently attended my first tractor trailer pinewood derby race – the CVSN (Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network) Pinewood Challenge. It was held during Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) in Las Vegas, the largest North American gathering of the independent heavy duty industry. This was my first pinewood derby, and it was most impressive.
The pinewood derby was the brainchild of Boy Scouts of America Cubmaster Donald Murphy. The first pinewood derby was held in 1953 by Cub Scout Pack 280C of Manhattan Beach, Calif. The CVSN Pinewood Challenge is a spinoff of the Boy Scouts’ pinewood derby. However, the CVSN Pinewood Challenge involves 18-wheeled trucks.
These 18-wheelers, made from a single piece of wood and powered only by gravity, race down a more than 50-foot track. Those with the fastest times earn first, second and third place honors, each of which comes with a trophy, cash and prizes. There is also a Concours d’Elegance portion of the Challenge, which recognizes the race truck with the best appearance and design.
As with any organized race, the CVSN Pinewood Challenge race trucks must comply with stringent design criteria. Among these: maximum gross vehicle weight of 4 pounds; maximum length of 20 inches; maximum height of 5.50 inches; and maximum width of 3.75 inches.
What surprised me about the CVSN Pinewood Challenge was the amount of effort many of the teams (companies) put into building their 18-wheel wooden racers. A number of the companies gave the task of building their race trucks to their engineering departments. That doesn’t’ seem fair. What about those companies that don’t have an engineering department?
Each of the competing trucks had a unique design and various features. Some had operating headlights, taillights and running lights. One had a hood that opened to show a carved out engine. Several carried loads.
As with any race, the crowd was very enthusiastic.
Taking first place was the truck entered by Pascale. Triangle Suspension’s race rig took second; Bendix came in third.
Winning the Concours d’Elegance was Marmon Highway Technologies’ rig, first place; Triangle Suspension, second place.
I’ve thought about entering next year’s race, but sadly, I am not that mechanically inclined, nor do I have no engineering department. I don’t even have any friends that are engineers.