Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Scout-style

I was a boy scout when I was a kid, but I don’t remember a whole lot about it. I remember going to pack meetings a couple of streets over from my house when we lived in Horn Lake…and I remember going camping at one of the dams in N. Mississippi, probably Arkabutla because it was closer; but the only thing I really remember about that camping trip was that it rained on us so hard that in the middle of the night, I got up with my tent-mate and we beat on the inside of our tent to make a flap come down that was on the outside—because the rain was coming inside. Didn’t matter, as when I woke up early the next morning, our suitcases were floating in water at the foot of our sleeping bags (we were on a small incline).

What I don’t remember is pinewood derby cars. At all.

Therefore, I’m inclined to believe that I never participated in one.

For a while, I thought soapbox derby and pinewood derby were the same thing. Nope, not so. I googled it! Pinewood derby cars are like those held by my son Brett in the picture to the right. Soapbox (not the kind you stand and preach on) cars are big enough for the kids to actually sit in. They’re go-carts without the motors. We made them as kids, but our inspiration was down in South Mississippi was the Little Rascals; they had the coolest contraptions!

So I had a lot of fun in this pinewood derby experience. Brett had designed a “body” for his car and some of the Dads brought their wood-working tools and cut out the shapes for the scouts. (No, my computer isn’t much help in pinewood except for maybe researching cool pinewood car images!) After some time, Brett painted the car and I helped him with the wheels…and that was the only thing I really did.

As we were waiting in line for the official weigh-in, I overheard one of the Dads say they’d done more work on the car than their son had. And while I’m sure that was just a bit of exaggerating, I was surprised to see that some of the cars did indeed look as if Pops had done the car for son.

Brett’s car was severely under weight, so we were able to add some fishing weights some fore-thinking dad brought. You can’t see it very well in the picture to the left (Brett’s car is in lane 4, closest to us, ready for the race), but we taped the weights to the front of the car. And, for the first time, his car did well: out of 4 heats, he took 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd. At least “I” thought it was good.

The day ended with races of non-scouts, an event for parents and siblings. I’ve already decided that it looks fun enough that I think I’ll enter a car and race next year. J

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Grand Prix Pinewood Derby Scout-style

  1. paco

    Tell Brett Congratulations and we are proud of him. He looks happy with his car. It is more satisfying to know he did most of it himself and didn’t win with a car made by Dad.

    Magoo

  2. Aunt Judy

    Hello Roland, give Brett my congratulations!! It looks like he did a good job and I am proud of him. This brings back good memories for me when I was a scout leader. Tom made several unique cars and one year I decided to enter one myself. I had big ideas but after all the mistakes I made, it wound up looking just like a banana so I painted it yellow with brown tips. It brought lots of laughs at the derby but stayed in the competition for quite a while. (the weights really help). I am glad you and Brett have this together.
    Love, Aunt Judy

  3. Roland,

    This brought back 2 different memories for me:

    1) Sleeping in a “boat bottom tent”. The problem was we put it in a little low spot, and it RAINED and LIGHTNINGED all night. We woke up floating in the water. We had to throw our shoes twenty feet just to get them to dry ground.

    2) My “pinewood derby” experience as a kid. My brother helped me, and, not understanding the rules myself, he added a huge blob of solder to the front of my car. This made it lightning fast. I didn’t realize that this was probably cheating, I was in 2nd grade, and just happy to be winning. I made it to the Finals, and I was so excited I dropped my car and damaged a wheel. Needless to say, it didn’t even make it down the track, and I only won the bronze medal. Probably good that happened, as I’d still be looking for those other kids today to apologize to them for my cheating!

    Sounds like they have weigh-ins now to keep things fair. Glad you all had a good time!

    -Robert

  4. Kevin Gates

    Hey Roland,

    You should have told me you guys were doing this! Once upon a time I came in first at my pack’s pinewood derby. I then got murdered by the kids whose parents had “helped” them more at the district heats… but it was still fun. Do they still let you use graphite on the little nails you use for axles? That stuff was awesome!

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