Grand Prix Racing - How To Make A Fast Pinewood Car

You've Done the Best You Can!

"I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong .. but time and chance happen to them all."
Ecclesiastes 9:11

You now have a fast Grand Prix car! The best you, your club regulations and science have to offer. But there are a few things to do on the day of the race itself that may give you an advantage over some unexpected events.

Race Preparation

  1. At the weigh in, bring a tool kit. There should be some tools at the event, but they may be in use when you need them the most. Don't forget the glue gun, they probably won't have that. Bring some clay to weight your car if it is under weight. Masking tape can temporarily fix almost any break (use the glue gun for more serious breaks).
  2. Keep an eye on your car. The rules do not allow ANYONE to touch your car except you (usually).
  3. Before the race, spin your wheels if you are using a dry lubricant.
  4. Try not to lubricate your car between races. If you lubricated your axles before attaching them, it shouldn't be necessary to add any.
  5. Use your car stand and racer spacer!
  6. Don't be nervous, just excited.
  7. Remember to have fun.


You've tried very hard to take control over your car's speed factors through good design and construction procedures. These have allowed you to anticipate many possible problems that might occur during the race. But other events are still outside of your control. Be prepared for this reality also.

Unevenly smooth lanes can cause bobbing and side-to-side drift. Though you may not know the conditions of the racetrack, these can favor different types of cars. Those designed with all the weight in the back will be more likely to derail on a bumpy track.

Though every precaution is taken, there may be ridges at the seams of the track across the lanes. These can cause bobbing if you lifted one wheel of your car. Even if you didn't, you can't be entirely sure what will happen when your car passes over one.

The shape of the track may be different than expected. It could have humps and waves in it rather than a smooth slope and straight-away.

Pillows are often used to stop the cars at the end of the track. Your car can be damaged as it is stopped or as you carry it back to the "parking lot".

What are some of the hazards faced by racers and what can be done to minimize their effects? Here is a partial list of some more common ones. Often, these remedies can not be implemented until the next Grand Prix. Things like "wheels falling off" are not listed in the hope that proper construction techniques have been followed.

Trouble Shooting the Race

Cars bump each other during the race Sand off wheel lettering, if any
Bumpy lanes or joins Do NOT raise a front wheel if your weight is not far back or your wheelbase is short; cant wheels under your car (or upward) to ride on edges more smoothly
Wheels hug the lane strip all the way down the track Realign the wheels
Cars passed yours on the ramp Your car may be under weight, they have removed tread from their wheels or lifted one or two
Cars passed yours on the flat Did you: move your weight back farther; keep your wheels from rubbing the lane strip; polish your bores and axles; lubricate with a better lubricant
Bad first race with a dry lube Lubricate axles BEFORE putting them on your car and spin your wheels before EACH heat.
Bad first race with a thin film lube You probably lubed too close to the race or used a "penetrating" lube.
Wheel hub touches top of lane strip or its inside edge touches the side of the lane strip Slim down the outside of the wheel bore cylinder or cant your wheels under your car to make the bores "untouchable"

Maintaining your attitude in the face of unexpected events will indicate whether you are winning a far more important race.

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me -- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
Acts 20:24
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Grand Prix Racing - How To Make A Fast Pinewood Car
Copyright © 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004 by Michael Lastufka, All rights reserved worldwide.