Pinewood Derby Memory – The Guest

It was Robby’s second pinewood derby and his bright yellow car was named the “Jedi Knight”. It had won his Cub Scout Pack’s pinewood derby and finished a close second to his older brother’s entry in the ‘Open’ competition that followed. But his pack was small, only eight Cubs, and the local scout council had discontinued the local District Pinewood races several years earlier (they said it made ‘too many losers out of previous winners’), so Robby was left to wonder what it must be like to compete in a BIG Pinewood competition.
Then he received a phone call from his assistant Scoutmaster, who had recently moved from another larger Cub Scout Pack several miles away. He told Robby that he thought he could arrange to enter Robby’s car in the other pack’s pinewood derby the following Saturday. He said there would be over sixty cars competing and so one more couldn’t possibly matter. Robby was thrilled to have the opportunity to compete with so many other Cub Scouts and represent Pack 400 in their race!
When his second derby day finally arrived, Robby was just busting with anticipation! The large room at the church was buzzing with nearly seventy Cub Scouts and their family members, checking in their cars, enjoying refreshments and the pre-race excitement that always seems to precede the derbies in larger packs.
Pack 199’s track was longer and a full five lanes wide! Robby watched as the cars were staged in groups and noticed that his Jedi Knight would race first in Heat #3. Then the competition began!
To Robby’s delight (and my amazement), the Jedi Knight won its first heat! Then the second, and the third!
The competition moved into hour number two, then hour number three and Robby’s car hadn’t lost a single heat!
More and more cars were eliminated, but the bright yellow Jedi Knight remained. In the last of the qualifying heats another car, a shiny black dragster design nosed him out at the finish line! But Robby’s car had enough points to be included in the championship round anyway. Everyone’s excitement grew as the derby officials lined up the five finalists for the finals. There would be three heats with only the top three finishers in each heat receiving points, then the Championship heat would be run with the three cars receiving the most points.
To our continued amazement, the Jedi Knight finished in the final group of three and would compete in the Championship heat!
As they lined up the final three cars, Robby’s yellow Jedi Knight was in lane #2. A bright red car was in lane number one, but the Jedi Knight had beaten it in an earlier heat. But wait, who was that in lane number 3? Yes, it was that same black dragster that had nosed-out the Jedi Knight in the last qualifying round! Robby’s car would race for the championship against the only car that had beaten it all day!
Before we could catch our breath, the championship heat was ready to begin! At the command of the official starter, the cars were released. Down the steep incline came the three cars wheel-to-wheel! Into the straightaway they flew as first the red car then the black dragster seemed to take a slight lead. Then as they reached the final few feet the yellow Jedi Knight in the center lane slipped past the others and across the finish line in FIRST PLACE! Everyone cheered and remarked how close all three cars had been at the finish. What a thrill for all the contestants!
But suddenly, the officials realized that there was a bit of a problem. Sheepishly, the race chairman approached me. “I have a bit of a political problem,” he whispered. “Not really,” I replied, realizing immediately the chairman’s concern. “Robby was here as a guest. He’s had a wonderful time and never expected to win, much less take home a trophy. This is Pack 199’s derby, and the trophies rightfully belong to Pack 199 scouts.”
After a quick huddle with Robby, the race chairman announced the surprising results to the crowd that never suspected that the winning car belonged to their one guest! To Robby’s delight, everyone cheered and applauded and the other contestants hoisted him on their shoulders and carried him around in a big circle chanting his name. “Robby, Robby, Robby! Hurray for Pack 400!” It was their way of saying thanks for being such a good sport as well as a gracious guest!
There was no trophy in the world that could have made Robby’s smile any bigger on that wonderful Pinewood Derby Day!
Rob Roper
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 5, Issue 9
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