McGrew's MiscellaneaDerby

Derby Resources
for a Shape N Race Derby, Pinewood Derby, etc.

Shape N Race Derby, Pinewood Derby, Kub Kar Rally—whatever you call it, a derby is a lot of fun, and it's a great opportunity for learning and for making memories.

My own Shape N Race Derby Page provides resources for both derby participants and organizers. This document lists resources and products provided by others. Unless stated otherwise, I have no direct experience with any of the products or other resources listed here.

I have separate sections for

Free Information

The following are sources for free derby information.

Free Software

The following are sources for free derby software.

Books and Videos

I believe that most organizations that sponsor derbies also publish their own derby how-to materials. It's a good idea to read the information published by your organization (especially if your group plans to participate in a regional derby), since it will include any organization-specific rules, procedures, and guidelines.

Supplies

I believe that most organizations that sponsor derbies offer derby kits and accessories through their supply catalogs. It's a good idea to use your organization's official kits (especially if your group plans to participate in a regional derby), since your organization's rules, procedures, and guidelines will assume the use of its kits.

Next, check with your local hobby/craft store. Most will have a small section set aside for derby kits and accessories, including decals, lead accessories (drivers, headlamps, rollbars, etc.), lead weights, wheel- and axle-polishing tools, and other goodies.

The following organizations and companies sell derby kits and accessories.

Derby Tracks

If you can't build your own track (e.g., using my Four-Lane Derby Track Plans), and you can't borrow a track from a nearby organization, then consider buying a pre-built track from one of these companies. I am not affiliated with any of these companies, and I have no experience with their products or service.

The traditional derby track design uses center lane guides, which the cars straddle. The inside surfaces of the wheels contact the outside surfaces of the guides.

An alternative derby track design uses side lane rails, and the cars run between these rails. The outside surfaces of the wheels contact the inside surfaces of the rails.

Electronic Finish Gates

Here are some things to consider when comparing electronic finish gates.

Sensor location
Most starting gates are located in the center of the lane. Therefore, the finish gate sensor should be located in the center of the lane also. For example, if the finish gate sensor is located at the wheel, cars with long noses will have an unfair disadvantage because their front wheels start behind the front wheels of other cars.
Sensor type
I think that optical sensors are more reliable than mechanical sensors (switches), because there are no electrical contacts to corrode and no moving parts to break or wear out. I've heard that visible-light optical sensors are subject to spoofing by flash photography, and that infrared optical sensors are immune to this effect.
Sensor accuracy
Let's assume a final speed of 15 feet/second, which is probably in the ballpark for many derby tracks. A difference of an inch (clearly visible to a human judge) is a difference of less than 6 milliseconds (thousandths of a second). An electronic finish gate should be accurate to within a millisecond or less, otherwise you might have results that are obviously incorrect. More accuracy is even better.
Display of results
Are the results displayed in a clear, unambiguous manner? Are the displayed results sufficient for your race method? If your preferred race method requires first-second-third results, then don't buy a gate that only displays first place.

The following organizations and companies sell electronic timers and finish lines. I am not affiliated with any of them, and I have no experience with their products or service.

Derby Software

The following are sources for commercial derby software.

See Also