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34
PINEWOOD DERBY MEMORY
The Duck


When the car was placed on the inspection table, I immediately knew there
was a problem.

The car body had been nicely carved by the young girl to resemble the body
of a duck, and additional wood had been added to create the curving neck and
the duck head. It was an incredible piece of work. But it was also too tall
to race. If it had been run on the track, the duck would likely have been
decapitated by the finish line bridge. Not a pleasant thought.

The height of the car was measured and as I had estimated, the duck was
nearly two inches too tall. The rules had clearly stated the height
limitation, but it was not unusual that the rules had been ignored.

Another official and I held a brief consultation and agreed that the only
possible course of action was surgery. To race, the neck had to be
shortened.

As I explained the procedure to the girl, the area of the room where we were
located got very quiet. Tears welled-up in her eyes, and the emotion of the
moment spread through the onlookers.

But time was of the essence, so carefully selecting a fine-toothed hack saw
blade, I went to work. Anesthesia was not required for 'the patient', but
it would have been helpful for the young girl.

After the neck section was removed, some Elmer's Glue served to close the
wound. After a bit of cleanup, the surgery was declared a success - the
patient would race in the derby.

Although it was still recognizable as a duck, the car no longer appeared
graceful. Much of the craftsmanship that had gone into creating the car had
gone by the wayside.

As I write this account many years later, I still wonder if we did the right
thing. Maybe we should have counseled the young girl to keep the duck
intact and skip the race. Maybe I was so focused on the race that I didn't
take into account the entire scope of the situation.

One can only speculate what would have been best since nothing can change
the past. But I hope that should a similar situation confront me in the
future that I will consider the larger picture before offering my counsel.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 2, Issue 4

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