Pinewood Derby Memory – Third Place for Perseverance

I was not very enthusiastic about my son’s first pinewood derby. But I pitched in and helped him create a very basic (ugly) car. We simply cut a wedge shaped piece of wood off the front and back of the car (resulting in a trapezoid for those of you that remember your basic geometry). It was then painted military green with some black animal spots. The car weighed less than 5 ounces, the axles weren’t polished, but we did put a drop of silicon oil on each axle. Thus, in less than an hour of work, the car was finished.

The night of the derby came, and I could quickly see that we were outclassed. But the race was organized in (what seemed to me) an unusual way. Although the track was four lanes, the race leader decided that the double elimination format could only identify the first and second place cars. So, a primary race to identify first and second place was held for each of the four classes. Then setting the winners aside, each of the four classes was raced a second time to identify 3rd place. During the primary race for our class, our entry finished somewhere in the lower half of the 25 or so entrants.
Since there were well over 100 cars total (and since the race procedure had quite a few wrinkles) it was getting rather late by the time the 3rd place races began. Many people had become frustrated (with the race procedure and with the antics of their kids) and had picked up their cars and left. So when the time came for our class to race there were only a few cars remaining in the staging area. Amazingly, my son’s car took 3rd place!
Although I realize that the result was a fluke, I must admit that I did get “pinewood derby fever” as a result of that race!
Randy Davis
Peoria, Arizona
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 15, Issue 1
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