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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The "Pinewood Perfection" Story

The Pack met outside for a group photo in front of a
visiting race car.  There were so many boys that
you couldn't see the race car, so I walked
to the side to take both in my photo.
It was an ordinary day.  Watching "Zombie Scout" roll down the track, eliminating car after car.  Today is the official Pinewood Derby contest for Pack 181 out of Columbia, Pennsylvania.  My grandson has been a member of the Pack for a couple of years now and one of the highlights of the year is the annual Pinewood Derby competition.  It was the same thing when my sons were in scouting and competing in the Pinewood Derby which was started in 1953.  
The official Pinewood Derby kit.
 Each scout must purchase a kit that has a block of wood, tires with nails to secure the tires to the car and numbers to place on your car.  You may, if you care to, carve the block of wood, paint it and add decals to make it look really neat.  While building the car, the scout and his father or mentor have fun building not only the car, but pride in their growing skills and hard work as well as forming a bond with each other.  My son Derek has helped my grandson Caden the last few years to build his car and prepare it for racing.  
All the Pinewood Derby cars weighed and ready for racing.
 On race day the car must be made with the official pine block of wood, be weighed and can be no more than 5.0 ounces in weight, be no more than 7" long or 2 3/4" wide and have 3/8" clearance under it to accommodate the track on which it will race.  Carol and I arrived about 15 minutes before the program began and found seats in the front row, courtesy of our daughter-in-law who saved them for us while setting up the chairs.  
My son helped with the race and is taking photos of all
the trophies and ribbons that will be presented today.
 Before racing took place the scouts formed outside for a group photo in front of a "real" race car that was in back of the church building where the Pinewood Derby was held.  Races were held according to rank with races in the Tigers, Wolfs, Bears and Webelos ranks.  Caden is a Webelos this year and had to wait about an hour before he competed.  After the Pledge to the Flag and the Scout Pledge were recited the races began.  
Cars lined up ready for racing.
 First and second place winners in each rank advanced to the finals.  After the Tigers, Wolfs and Bears finished we anxiously awaited the next race.  But, it was lunch time so everyone took a break to partake of the spread of food that was in another room.  Finally, Caden raced his car against 10 other scouts from his Webelos den.  
Everything is computerized.  Here is the scoreboard after 
one of Caden's races. He was in lane 2, but took 1st
 this heat at 223.1 MPH. Amazing for a block of
pine wood with nails holding on the wheels!
 Two years ago he finished 2nd in his Wolf den while last year he finished 2nd in his Bear den, but being that the top 2 boys competed in the finals, he managed to take the Pack title when his car beat all others, including the one that beat him in the Bear finals.  
Caden with Zombie Scout and his trophy.
 This year he did almost as well as last.  His car, named Zombie Scout, raced 14 heats until finally it won 2nd place in Webelos.  It did reach speeds of 223.1 MPH on the four-lane track.  In the finals he didn't fare as well, but you could see he was having a great time and that is what scouting is all about.  Our family left the event after having a great time. Can't wait until next year's race.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

PS - But then it struck ….. if you have read my story titled Derby Doom you know what I'm talking about.  If not, I should tell you that as of this writing 18 families were struck with a malady that matches the Norovirus that strikes large cruise ships.  Matter of fact, that is what some have said we all came down with 2 days after the Pinewood Derby.  Haven't felt that bad in more than 30 years. It lasted so long that Scout meetings were canceled for the entire following week.  As of today, twelve days after the race, my wife and I still are feeling the effects of the sickness we have named the Derby Doom.

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