Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PINEWOOD DERBY MEMORY
Bittersweet Day


Our pack was involved in a combined three pack pinewood derby this year. Not only did the boys race against their own dens, they also raced against the winners of the other packs. Our pack had purchased a brand new aluminum track with digital sensors. It was cool! Not one car jumped the track this year. No more jarring bumps as the cars raced down the track. The cars seems to go faster than in years past as well. The track was carefully roped off so anxious cub scouts couldn't bump it or step on it. The cubs placed their cars on the track and had to walk around the audience to the finish line to receive their cars from the cub master at the end.

The derby this year took almost two hours to run. As the winners from each den were announced, their cars were put aside for the final race of the day - the three pack champion race. By this time, some of the boys not advancing to the district were leaving with their families or playing with the cars on the gym floor. Nine cars competed in the tournament of champions. There were multiple races and scoring to determine the overall winner. My son's car had won against his Weblos den. He was the three pack champion last year, so he was one of the nine again this year. Tension was high - would he take first place again?

There were 9 heats to determine the overall winner. For each heat, four cars raced and five sat out. The cars were rotated so they were constantly racing other cars. About halfway through these heats my son's name was called to get his car. It should have been on the judges table with the others - it wasn't. We started looking around - did someone steal his car? My poor excited son (and his anxious dad!) couldn't find the car. Everyone started looking. It took just a few seconds to see that some little girls were imitating the other cub scouts by playing with HIS car on the gym floor - pushing it back and forth. My daughter raced over and picked up the car from the girls playing with it. Now the problem wasn't finding the car - it was to get it back in the race. No time to look at it to clean off the wheels or check alignment.

My son didn't win the tournament of champions. We weren't even allowed to handle the car after the final race, as the district wanted the cars quarantined until the district race next month. We requested time to examine and repair the car since it was mishandled. No such luck. Everyone agreed that we should be able to examine it - but whoever has the cars in quarantine isn't letting us know where they are being stored. So next month my son will race his car against the district, and we won't know until after that race if any damage was done - it's sad that we know already his chances to win are slim. This will be his last pinewood derby before he bridges to boys scouts. What a bittersweet day.

Michael Law
Live Oak, CA

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 6, Issue 13

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