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Pinewood Derby Designs & Patterns Pinewood Derby Speed Secrets Review by Jennifer Harrison

Troy Throne
David Meade
Fox Chapel Publishing
1970 Broad Street
East Petersburg, PA 17520

Pinewood Derby races are a classic childhood memory, an icon of American boyhood. They can be a challenge to a son's creativity--and to his dad's patience--making an incredible bonding experience for both of them. Dad dreams of the fastest car, while his son dreams of the coolest looking car. Excitement builds and plans start spinning as they wait to receive their Derby kit. For some, the excitement cools when they are faced with a small, plain block of light wood and tiny plastic wheels. What can be made from that?

Troy Throne has written an awesome book that can tell you exactly what can be made from that! It's called Pinewood Derby Designs & Patterns: The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Coolest Car. The book is officially licensed by the Boy Scouts of America, and it offers so much more than a tutorial for Derby cars.

The guide is written to the parents, providing them with everything they could possibly want to know from start to finish. I love that the introduction begins with a reminder of what the car creating process is really about. Safety and integrity are stressed throughout the book, with excellent suggestions and tips. I love that it is written at a level that anyone can understand, regardless of experience level. Detailed descriptions of the tools needed and how to use them are offered, with full-color photographs and very clear directions. At first, three basic designs are shared, with step-by-step instructions and a photograph for each step. Later, 31 amazing patterns are provided, with full-scale templates and even a page of decals.

The amazingly detailed photographs and simple instructions make this guide very easy to follow. From preparation to Weigh-In, readers are given every detail in building, painting, and prepping their cars, even down to polishing the axles.

Once racers have mastered the thrill of building a Derby car, they might be ready to go on to David Meade's book Pinewood Derby Speed Secrets: Design and Build the Ultimate Car. Meade features the same photographer as the previous book and offers the same clear instructions as well as excellent advice. All instructions are within regulation, and the book is officially licensed by the Boy Scouts of America. The author notes that the "Pinewood Derby strengthens relationships, while promoting craftsmanship and healthy competition."

The book begins with a brief history of the Pinewood Derby and quickly moves on to the car plans. These are not mere templates; they are aerodynamic discussions! Readers are told how to maximize potential energy, reduce friction, and reduce wheel inertia. And this is barely the beginning. Great detail is given to weight placement, wheelbase length, lubrication, and so much more. There are so many details and ideas that I never would have dreamed possible. It never would have occurred to me to sand inside a wheel bore, late alone taper an axle head to reduce friction. The author has thought of everything. And then he tested and retested and made certain he had the best possible methods mastered. The step-by-step instructions are clear and concise, and they really will help you create the ultimate Pinewood Derby racecar.

Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2010