Life doesn't come in a kit
If I remember correctly, they came in kits, and you had to register long before the race so that your materials would come in the mail on time. In the delivery box were four wheels, four hubcaps, two axels, and a block of wood, and as a boy scout, your duty was to engineer a derby car using only those materials. I'll be the first to admit I was never the best boy scout, but the annual pinewood derby races were the one area I really shined.
We had the perfect design, my dad and I. Most of the time we would even get two kits. The first one would be a trial model that we could try out crazy new ideas on: spoiler, forked wedge, extremely narrow wheelbase, extremely wide wheelbase, inverted wedge, etc. Then we would dispose of the terrible ideas (usually his), and take what worked well (typically mine), and incorporate the best format into the final design. *Note: the spoiler thing never works.
We were allowed to use basic tools like drills, saws, wood chisels, and knives to shape the simple wood block, but it was the paint job that really made our cars into objects both feared and revered by other scouts and scout dads alike. Often we would devise a name for the car - something like "The Flame" or "Blazing Rocket," you know, something really terrifying that I could paint on the side in red letters.
As a kid who grew up loving the names of exploding fireworks, I'm beginning to think naming them was my favorite part. I would even go through the trouble of pulling out a bunch of blank printer paper to doodle on so I could get the letter style I wanted. My hang-up in designs, now that I think about it, was that we never had the colors of paints like I had the colors of crayons... parents take note...