Local Cub Scout packs set their own rules for conducting a Pinewood Derby as the Boy Scouts of America do not endorse a national standard. Typical rules govern the weight of the car, its length, its width and permitted modifications. Cars are usually subject to official inspection prior to racing.
The first Pinewood Derby was the brainchild of Don Murphy, Cubmaster of Pack 280C in Manhattan Beach, Calif., who conducted the first such race in 1953. The idea spread rapidly, and the Boy Scouts of America adopted the Pinewood Derby as an official Cub Scout activity in 1955. The BSA registered Pinewood Derby as a trademark in 2005.
In a typical Pinewood Derby, Cub Scouts and their adult partners assemble their cars from kits containing a block of pine wood, four plastic wheels and four nails. The finished car must use all the parts and must meet the pack's size regulations, but Scouts are free otherwise to shape and decorate the cars as they please.
The purpose of the Pinewood Derby is to teach Cub Scouts Scouting goals such as sportsmanship and good citizenship, personal achievement and family understanding. The intent is that Cub Scouts learn to work with their adult partners and that their cars should represent their personal best efforts.