02 03 Pinewood Derby Stories and Photos from Maximum Velocity 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Thumbs Up!

My son wanted to sign up for scouts. I thought, "What a great idea!"
I thought back to my childhood days in scouts and thought this would
surely be great. I instantly started telling - and apparently boring -
my son about all of the great times that I had! Of all of the
activities that I remembered the most, unfortunately the Pinewood
Derby wasn't one of them.

I'll never forget that look on my son's face that day he came home
with his derby box in his outstretched hand,and announced to me as he
was handing over the box; "Here you go dad! Make me a great car!" In
a blink of the eye, I instantly became my father!! And in an
instant - after the panic subsided - it all came back to me about my
Derby days. The handing over of the box to my dad, the return of the
box from my dad, and then, for the next few weeks, the building of
"the car" together. Well, before my son could run off for the TV, I
was able to apprehend him and hand back the box. Of course for the
whole "we'll do this together" thing, but also for the simple fact
that if this car failed, I wasn't going down alone!

This Pinewood Derby kit looked simple enough. So the box sat for what
seemed like the longest time. Then as Derby day approached, I
thought, "I'd better take a look at this thing! How hard could it be
to attach four nails to a block of wood that resembled a car and paint
the darn thing!" I was pretty handy with wood. Gosh I have a ton of
wood working tools! I had made things in the past. This was no
problem. I'm a dad!! Dad's know these things. The only real guideline
that I understood was the fact that it needed to "look like a flag."
A little red, white and blue paint would take care of that.

So we began. I thought I should cut the block first. No problem.
Pulled out the old table saw (I know what you're thinking) and cut
away. This experience was similar to 'ice carving' with a chain saw,
something I was totally unfamiliar with! Holy Cow!!

"All right," I thought. "Maybe a scroll saw would be better." Carve a
little decorative look to the whole thing. Nope!

Okay, we took our first trip to the scout shop to buy another block.
My son was a little puzzled but I kept giving him the 'thumbs up' sign
and assured him we were "Just practicing." What a trooper. He just
smiled and jumped in the car.

Our next attempt at cutting went a little smoother. My son pointed to
the band saw and said, "We haven't used this one yet." The car looked
great! Well, to him anyway. Bless his heart, Daddy could do no

I overheard a parent at one of our meetings discussing their car and
remembered hearing something about making your own axle slots. Well
this wasn't a problem since I seemed to have accidentally removed the
original ones. This was going good! Pulled out the drill; instant
axle holes. Put that little nail through the wheel, glue it in the
hole and 'Bam' we've got a race car! Let's paint. Whoa! OK.... pull
out the wheels.

"Just making sure they fit son."

Thumbs up. Dad's still great!

"I've got my paints dad!," he said.

"Naw, let's use spray paint! We'll get a much better looking paint

I don't think my son had used a paint can before. But being the
"eager" scout, he grabbed the can, pointed it backwards and began
spraying his arm! Just another lesson in painting. What a neat
father/son project! Two thumbs up!

Well, we finally got the paint on the car. Red on the bottom, blue on
the top and some really cool looking star stickers all over. It was
coming together. We even painted the wheels white (A real speed
secret!?). We let it dry overnight.

"It's not real shiny dad. Let's spray some shiny stuff on it!"

Oh boy - instant problem! This time my son and I learned a very
important thing about painting: Compatibility!

Who would have ever thought that all paints and clear coats were NOT
created equal. Within moments of painting our car began to 'crinkle'.
All at once flash backs of chemistry class, memories of my professor
discussing things we should never mix together came rushing back to

With no time to react, I started wiping off the car in an attempt to
save something! A few re-coats of red, white, and blue and we were
back. Throw in a little graphite, a little driver to sit behind the
wheel, and we were real car builders. We did it!

Well, this journey my son and I were taking was not turning out
anything like I thought. We did have a car though. Not a bad looking
car either. And all four wheels were in place!

Race day came. How did we do? As my son's car came down the track my
fingers were turning blue from being crossed so tight. It made it!
Every boy left that day with a ribbon. My son got to run six races
that day and walked away with a fifth place ribbon. Overall in the
whole pack of a one hundred plus boys? No idea - but we left with the
BIGGEST grin on our faces, a car, and a ribbon.

Jon Edgar
Ballwin, MO

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 2, Issue 14

To subscribe to this free e-newsletter, please visit:

(C)2011, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.
35 36 37 38