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How I got Involved With the Pinewood Derby

My eldest son created a great design for his first pinewood derby. Of
course, I didn't realize until derby day that the weights on the
bottom of the car had to be inset for the car to clear the track's
guide rail. Thank goodness for the Craftsman rotary tool!!

The car ran great!! He ended up winning his den heats and moving into
the semi-finals. In the semi-finals, he was twice pitted against one
of his den-mates whom he had already beaten two times before. But in
the semi's, the other car beat my son's! My son's car ended up in 5th
place overall - the other boy's car took 3rd place. We couldn't figure
out how the other boy's car had beaten our son's car both times in the
semi-finals.

UNTIL ... we reviewed the videotape (Mom was out of town, so we had
videotaped all of my son's races). It turned out that the adult
running the starting line was different for the den heats than for the
semi's and finals. The track had a starting gate that was dropped
manually. The adult running the den heats dropped the gate QUICKLY,
but the leader running the semi's S L O W L Y lowered the gate. The
other boy's car had a wedge-shaped nose that was beveled from
underneath. The slow gate allowed his nose to move about an inch ahead
of the other cars before they started moving. That inch was all that
was needed!!

Oftentimes the easiest way to resolve an issue is to just volunteer.
So the next year I became the race chairman. The starting gate was
changed to SNAP open with rubber bands and lane/car rotations were
standardized so that a car wouldn't race against the same cars any
more than necessary.

Grant Iannelli
Lombard, Illinois

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 2, Issue 10

A pinewood derby memory is an occasional part of the Pinewood Derby Times Newsletter. To subscribe to this free e-newsletter, please visit:
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