Days of Pinewood Thunder

Pinewood-Derby-LogoI’m new to the Boy Scout movement, and all the activities that comes with it.  We felt it would be a great idea to join the local den, allowing my son to interact with other boys his age.  And, it has been absolutely brilliant for him.

Being born with Down Syndrome, it is sometimes not easy to fit in.  But, the boys in his den have been super.  They involve him, cheer for him and hold hands with him.  He absolutely loves it.

When the opportunity arose to participate in the cult like event, ‘Pinewood Derby‘, we simply had to sign-up.  I had no idea what it actually was.  Reality soon hit us!

All boys were given a small piece of pinewood, four nails and wheels.  Instructions were simple.  Racers had the same starting point = a piece of wood!  You cut, sand, carve, scratch, bite, kick, spit, paint, meditate to slowly shape it into a super fast and awesome pinewood racer.

One minor catch.  It can only weigh 5 ounces.  Anything above 5 will be disqualified and anything less would be slower.  The key is to get the car to weigh exactly 5 ounces … nothing more, nothing less.

There’s a huge industry behind pinewood racing with online shops, communities, competitions, tips, tricks and plenty of how to.  Here’s one site I found.

How hard could it be to build a fast pinewood racer?

monster pinweood racerWhere I took a slight detour was when I  wrongly assumed that the boys were building the cars themselves, with some minor supervision from their fathers.  Basically provide parental cover for usage of heavy machinery, saws, drills, quantum physics and a bit of NASA research.

I’m a full-time employee at a major firm, and honestly find it difficult to spend much time on this activity.  However, I sat aside time every evening to prepare the car.  Spending 30-40 minutes with my son, while trying to get it ready for the weigh-in.

I was very proud.  My son’s car looked like something he had created.  It had rough edges, one funny wheel, some strange colours and yet elegant and aerodynamic.  A masterpiece the Dodge brothers (John and Horace) would be proud of.  There was a remote chance that he could win the race.  The pinewood racer had his personal touches.

On the weigh-in, the tensions were high.  Every father in the room were anxiously looking at the competition.  Smirks, taunts and even a few “better luck next time” were thrown around the room.  In one corner, the pit crews were working to bring the car to the desired 5 ounces.

Suddenly, a scream echoed from the weigh-in area.  The master scale was off by .2 ounce, which meant some cars had to be adjusted or face the disqualification … wash-out lane was being lit up, and one boy was whimpering while holding his father’s hand.

Battle stations!!!  Distraught fathers rushed to the pit crews to add or remove weights.  Boys were screaming at their fathers to hurry up, despite having several hours before the weigh-in finished.  And of course we all made it 🙂

All race cars were securely locked away until the event, ensuring no father could apply some magic to their car.  Now it was just a matter of waiting for the day to arrive.

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