Thursday, February 04, 2010

Pinewood Derby 2010

This year's annual Pack 621 Derby was extra special in a number of ways. One such way was that car entries built by Dad and son (that would be me and Etho) were joined by a totally cool race car designed and carved by my daughter Emily in the shape of an "E." Her colorful car turned heads and smoked all comers on the Friday practice day!

It was also the inaugural race on the brand new aluminum Derby track purchased by Pack 621. The company which built it, BestTrack, did a fine job - it was everything they billed it as and more. The smart purchase as well was their "Champ" electronic timer which sorted out race results to the *thousandth* of a second - WOW!

Kevin, Patrick, Matt, me and several others trucked the track over in a fine storage box built by Woodworker Jim of the Pack.  We built it on Friday night at the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) church up the road.  The  have graciously donated their gym the last several years so that we could run a quality race rain or shine.  There was a little tinkering that had to be done and a couple of times we had a few things backwards for a minute or two, but by early evening kids were racing and fine-tuning their cars for the BIG race scheduled for the next morning.

Ethan's entry was a last-minute build later that night because when we tried to install his axles/wheels  in his car the wood split because he had carved out the body too close to the axle grooves. Much gnashing of teeth and wailing!  Luckily he had cut his block of wood down the middle during the Pack's "Build Day" in mid-January.  So, we reached into the parts bin, pulled that wedge out, and immediately reached for the orange Krylon.  After it dried, I used a T-square to mark some new axle grooves straight as I could, then gingerly sawed those darned grooves.  The wheels slotted in perfectly and we went to bed satisfied that we had a decent and hopefully competitive car.

Boy howdy:  Race Day! Scout families were abuzz with excitement as they wheeled their cars in.  Most did some last minute adjustments to weigh in at 5oz, squirting powdered graphite into their axles and finally going through Registration to end up with their rides on the Impound table (where they could not be touched again prior to race time).  Soon, racing began with cars zoom-zooming down the track, sometimes separated by tenths of a second.  Starter Matt and Scorekeeper Matt (errr... different people), kept the races moving along until we had the top 12 cars ready to move on to the finals.

During intermission, Dads and siblings raced their cars in the "Unlimited" class.  Since there were essentially no rules except that the cars must be powered by gravity, some entries went for style points (one had functioning lights and Emily's "E" was a crowd favorite), or brute force (heavy railroad spike), or a combo of the two (stylish and oh-so weighty).  I entered a black lowered pick-up truck with about 1.5lbs of lead in the bed.    

Though my favorite was probably Dave's old-school Derby car he raced decades ago as a Cub Scout, and Spike gave me a run for the money winning a couple of races, it was no contest at the end as sheer black lead mass triumphed over all comers... 

When the Scouts came back from snacks, everyone knew it was serious race time.  The margin of difference between a first place finish in the heats now was measured in hundredths of seconds. Whoa!  Lots of clapping and cheering.

Because I was taking a lot of pics of the races, it took me awhile to realize that Etho's bright orange wedge car kept winning, heat after heat after heat!  It wasn't long before I heard a group of the Webelos 2 boys chanting "Ethan, Ethan" and another faction of the younger Scouts shouting "Camden, Camden", whipping the crowd into a frenzy and swinging all attention on the final races. 

Eyes of the adults and kids alike were glued on the track and timer as Derby cars built by Ethan, Camden, and Miles raced down the track three times.  And three times, the "Krylon Special" of Ethan logged position #1 at the end of the track.  Ethan had won the 2010 Pack 621 Pinewood Derby!  Fantastic - I'm proud of you son!

Next stop is the "San Diego 500 Grand Prix" at the 2010 Scout Fair at Qualcomm Stadium in April.  Until then, the car is under glass:  Nobody is touching the Krylon Special!

1 comment:

blue wave dave said...

Yahoo! proud uncle screams ETHAN! ETHAN! ETHAN!I am there with ya. I helped Ethan with year 1 edition the wedge. as I remember he did ok but not like the krylon cruiser-go get em at the finals! first of all have a good ol time. uncle Dave.