As part of a team building/morale boosting exercise, my employer decided to host a Pinewood Derby. You may be familiar with the Pinewood Derby as created by some car crazy Cub Scouts in 1953 where kids and their parents carve a car shape out of a 7" long x 1 3/4" wide x 1 1/4" thick block of pine wood. The cars are raced down a 40' long multi-lane sloped track where the cars ride in dedicated tracks. Typically these events are reserved for kids, which is great, but it's a lot more fun building and racing one of these cars as an adult.
For my car, I was determined to build an Allard J2. I started by drawing the block and wheels on my 3D CAD program, then I took side and top view images of the J2 blueprint and overlaid them over the block and wheels. Surprisingly, the scale of the J2 blueprints matched the block and wheels pretty well!
From there I cut the body out of the actual block and the fenders out of a 1/2" thick piece of bass wood. I then glued the fenders to the body...hoping the front fenders were not too delicate. A Dremel tool with a barrel style sand bit was used to shaped the car - fortunately nothing broke! Unfortunately I was pinched for time so I wasn't able to finish and paint the car as well as I had hoped. However, I think the car came out pretty good.
I modeled the the design after J2-1513, the first J2 exported to the USA and originally purchased by Roy Richter - owner of Bell Auto Parts. Roy was victorious in his one and only race - his racing career cut short after his wife learned of his new hobby.
Are there any wood workers out there that car to take up the Allard Pinewood Derby challenge? If so, send us a photo of your handiwork. Click here to download a Acrobat PDF of my J2 block overlay...when printing, make sure you select print in full scale.
As for the race, I came in second place out of 20 cars, losing out to a 'wedge' car built by one of our engineers. All had a great time and we are expecting twice as many entrants for next year. Perhaps I'll build a replica of our J2X Le Mans?