Pinewood Derby Stories and Photos from Maximum Velocity
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.