Gentlemen, start your enginesPinewood Derby cars both creative and fleet

  • Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cub scouts at the Pinewood Derby check out some of the cars before the race.


NASCAR has nothing on the wild colors and amazing speeds achieved by Local Cub Scout Pack 384 at their annual Pinewood Derby last month.

“The designs on these cars were original, to say the least,” said Webelos den leader Jeff Pelham. “We had cars that looked like snakes, eagles, fruit, tanks, the Batmobile, you name it. And the fastest car of the day, if it were life sized, would be doing 193.6 miles per hour.”

Twenty-two racers and 40 fans attended the derby, cheering on their favorite cars and enjoying free hot dogs, brownies and sodas. The Pinewood Derby, which Cub Scouts have been enjoying nationwide since 1953, serves as more than an entertaining afternoon, there’s also a lot of applied science involved.

“A Scout needs to design a vehicle that maximized potential energy and can transmit that potential into kinetic energy,” said Pelham. “At the same time, the design needs to minimize both friction and air resistance. To have a fast car, a Scout must take all the theory and translate it into the practice of wood working and materials fabrication.”

Every Scout starts with a block of pine wood, four wheels, and four nail axles. The rest is creativity and elbow grease.

“We shaved a lot off the front so it could go faster,” said first-grader Townsend Crosby. “Then I added a tail.”

This year’s fastest derby cars belonged to Alexander Pelham, Andrew Ackerman and Matt Caines.

Most original design went to William Baker, Seth Caldwell and Jameson Horton.

Many thanks go out to the adults who helped set up the regulation equipment and judge the races, including Cubmaster Walt Ackerman, assistant Cubmaster Lisa Ackerman, den leaders Jeff Pelham, Joe Martin, Chris Baker and Lane Crosby.

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