Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

On This Day

Friday 15th May 1953

66 years ago

Cubmaster Don Murphy organised the first Pinewood Derby in Manhattan Beach, California. Murphy's son was too young to participate in the popular Soap Box Derby races, so he came up with the idea of racing miniature wood cars. With the help of parents, cubs build their own cars from wood, usually from kits containing a block of pine, plastic wheels, and metal axles. The Pinewood Derby had a sensational first year. Murphy and the Management Club of North American Aviation sent out thousands of brochures to anyone who requested more information. The idea spread rapidly, and competitions were held across the country, mainly with recreation departments and nonprofit organizations including the Los Angeles County Department of Recreation. Of all that early enthusiasm, however, only the Boy Scouts of America made it part of an official program. The National Director of Cub Scouting Service, O. W. (Bud) Bennett, wrote Murphy: "We believe you have an excellent idea, and we are most anxious to make your material available to the Cub Scouts of America." Within the year, the Boy Scouts of America adopted the pinewood derby for use in all Cub Scout packs. In its October 1954 issue, Boys' Life publicized the event and offered plans for the track and a car, which featured "four wheels, four nails, and three blocks of wood." Murphy continued to run the derby program through the Management Club until his retirement from North American Aviation in 1978. He died in 2008. In 2003, Pack 713 celebrated the 50th Pinewood Derby along with Packs 287, 759, 275, and former Cub Scouts from the 1953 Pack 280c. A shoulder patch for the Western Los Angeles County Council that depicted a pinewood derby car and a message of honor to Murphy was released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the event. In 1980, the design of the block was changed from a cutout block, consistent with a 1940s style front-engined Indy 500 car, to a solid block. The tires were also changed from narrow, hard plastic, to wider "slicks." In May 2005, the Boy Scouts of America registered Pinewood Derby as an official trademark.

First pinewood derby - 1953

First pinewood derby - 1953