Pinewood Derby Memory – Never too Late to Start

This was my first pinewood derby as a Dad. Due to lots of time constraints (Christmas break, where we went out of town, a science fair project for school that had concurrent preparatory time as the as pinewood derby, life in general, etc.) we started way too late, like the Thursday before the race. About the only thing that saved the day was that I had the forethought to subscribe to the Maximum Velocity newsletter in November!
Anyway, when installing the weights I accidentally splintered the wood severely, enough that it was beyond repair. Luckily, my son had selected a wedge-shaped car and still had enough wood to make another car out of the other half of the wood block. Obviously, the axle slots were not cut, but we went ahead anyway. My son sanded, painted, and put the pin stripes on the car. Then he helped polish the axles and wheels. We didn’t wet sand as my wife had already thought that I had gone “Down and Derby”, and I didn’t need to give her any more fuel for that fire! I hand drilled the axle holes, which I know is blasphemous, but it was my only choice. We lubricated with McLube Sailkote, since I had some for my sailboat. The wheels spun for a long time. After a rough alignment check we were ready.
At the weigh-in we started heavy, but got it down to 5.0 ounces. Since we had started so late I really had no hope, especially since there were no local rules published, and I saw lots of kit cars and speed wheels (no outlaw wheels, however) among the entrants.
After the first heat, my son and I got hopeful. As the heats wore on, and his friends slowly got eliminated, he got more excited. We made it to the 5th heat, where there were only 6 cars competing, before we were eliminated. So, out of 31 entrants, my son was tied for 5th. He was a little disappointed, but still very happy to have finished where he did.
Next year, we’re starting earlier; and we are buying the Pro-Body Tool!!
Christopher Brown
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 6, Issue 11
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