By Jennifer Russo
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) began the tradition of the Pinewood Derby in 1953, and ever since, children across the country take part in creating cars that they hope will be the fastest down the track. Each scout is given the same kit to work with, along with very clear requirements for materials, weight, and more. Even though they all start the same, the scouts are responsible for (with a little adult help) conceptualizing, carving, and sanding their cars, painting them, installing the wheels and axels, and including weights and other design elements to create what they think will be the winning build.
C.J. Schmaelzle gives the ok for the next race to begin
(also pictured: Colin Barrows)
The result is a group of many uniquely made shapes and designs, each looking very different from the next. How fast the car is depends on weight distribution, aerodynamic shape, and position of the wheels.
Though last year’s race was completely virtual due to pandemic caution, this year the loved event took place both in person and live streaming. The event was held at the Bellingham Town Hall and aired on Facebook. Each scout den’s race was held at specific times. That den’s scouts and their guardians were welcome to watch their cars race and cheer themselves (and each other) on. The kids anxiously awaited the release of the cars down the track and, though they all had masks on, their smiles and excitement were apparent. “The Pinewood Derby is an annual event that the scouts look forward to every year. It’s a great opportunity for them to not only work on a fun project with their family to build their car, but also to cheer along with their fellow scouts at the races. We were very happy to have the races back to being in-person this year, which I know the scouts were excited about, especially through all the challenges of the last year,” says Cubmaster Matt Schmaelzle.
Tiger Cubs pose for the camera after their race (pictured L to R: Jackson Pluta, Aurora Breton, Jackson Tagliaferri, Jackson DaCunha, Lucas Bolio and Austin Donato)
The race is purely gravitational, with a steep track and three lanes. The cars drop down and then momentum moves them across the flat part of the track through to the finish line. Every car is raced down a different lane for each leg of the race, and then the winners are calculated for each den. Each den’s winner then races against each other until there is one 1st place winner and runner-ups of 2nd and 3rd place called.
Another fun side activity at the race, Scouts and their parents were encouraged to vote for various superlatives, such as: most colorful car, sportiest looking car, fastest looking car, and most unique shape, among others.
This year, there were 22 cars entered to race. The final top three winning honors went to:
1st – C.J. Schmaelzle
2nd – Landon Barrows
3rd – Ryder Barrows
And individual den placements were as follows:
Lions/Tigers – Ryder Barrows won first place, Aurora Breton won second, and Jackson DaCunha won third.
Wolves/Bears – Ike Burns won first place, Joseph Tagliaferri won second, and Joseph Jencks won third.
Webelos 1 – Landon Barrows won first place, Codey Pederson won second, and Braden Sherry won third.
Webelos 2 – C.J. Schmaelzle won first place, Colin Barrows won second, and A.J. Hagopian won third.
The pack leaders thanked everyone and closed with announcements that the Blue & Gold graduation ceremony would be scheduled shortly, as well as a ceremony for those Cub Scouts “crossing the bridge” into the Boy Scout level. Additionally, there are many exciting activities being planned now that the weather is improving, such as summer camp, fishing trips, hiking excursions and more.
If you are interested in signing your child up for the Bellingham Scouts or to learn more about the program, please visit BeAScout.org