“Burnin’ Hell” at the Pinewood Classic

My friend Doug Penick came up with the idea of holding a pinewood classic race for grown-ups earlier this year and I knew immediately that I had to get in on it. So a few weeks ago, and one week before the event,  I made my first Pinewood Derby Car. Okay, so that was fun!

Nostalgia was palpable here and I geeked on the fun details.


Charley (my skeleton obsessed 2-year old) gave up this little plastic skeleton toy so that my car could live.


The Build

I measured the block and did a few sketches, Woodworking is not something I do very often so I did a lot of staring at the block. Sketches down and general shape down and it was time to start carving into it.


Without access to a bandsaw, I tried out a coping saw. It worked pretty well for hacking off chunks. I used it to cut out the seat area and take some excess from the back.


I’ve had some extra letterpress furniture in odd sizes sitting here in the shop for while and figured it was a nice way to add some trim and get a nice wood grain. pinewood1

The finished rough sand, honestly, I hate sanding so I just figured, MEH it’s smooth enough. pinewood2

Here’s the front of the car with the letterpress wood detail.pinewood3

Knowing officially nothing about how to balance the cars wheels and make it roll smoothly, I knew I would screw that part up. Just really hoped the car would cross the finish line. Painting the wheels to add some design details? Now that’s something I can do, so I went to work on painting.pinewood4

Red wheels to play off the black, brown and bone.pinewood5

Red Number “13” of course. Stenciled these, then painted some highlights. pinewood6

I should have used that Frog tape to mask the edges, took me a little time to go back and clean up that rough black edge. Hard to see here, but I also painted small Louvre’s on the hood.pinewood7

Here you can see some of the painted highlights on “Burnin’ Hell”.pinewood-burninhell-beauty-side-arvizu

The Race

The Pinewood Classic race was held at Short leash Hotdogs in Downtown Phoenix. In between eating sausages and drinking beer with great relish, I was reminded to take my car out to the track and race. Next year I’ll get there earlier so that my stomach doesn’t rule my fate.

Got a chance to see some of the other great cars the day before our race. Some really fantastic designs by most everyone involved. pinewood-groupshot

Random dude was hogging my focus at the starting line! I just rattled off a few photos and hoped for the best but sometimes you lose some 😉 Speaking of losing, as I suspected my wheels were my downfall. Next year I’m going with a solid axle…pinewood-in-action

if you like this article you’ll also enjoy The Getaway and Handpainted Murals.