Pinewood Derby Memory – First Derby Story

My son is involved in the BIC (Brethren In Christ) Boys group at our church. Recently we were informed that they were going to have their annual pinewood derby race. I never participated in one of these races as a child, but wanted to help my son to compete in the race. I had no idea where to begin. I searched pinewood derby on Google and found your site. While working on the car we implemented as many speed tips as we were allowed.
After we registered, we were adding some graphite. I remembered you said it takes a few runs for the graphite to get worked in and I asked my son to spin the wheels. When he went to spin the first wheel it flipped out of my hand and on to the ground. I remember reading somewhere that there is always one car that gets dropped on “Derby Day”. I was a little upset when this first happened, as I could see all our work going slowly down the track. But when race time came, the car cruised to victory in the first race. One close race out of the four, but success in each. When the awards were being announced, my son’s name had not been called before they
announced the 3rd place finisher. I now knew that he had won first or second place. The second place finisher was announced and my son was the only name left. I was so proud and shocked when they announced him as the first place winner! He walked to receive his trophy with a very serious look on his face, as though trying to hide his excitement. I had to fight back the tears as he proudly carried his award back to where we were standing. Being five years old and not “liking to lose” (like anyone actually does), we had talked to him before the races to make sure he knew he may not win even one race and that, win or lose, he had to be a good sport. We think he was just “being a good sport” when he strolled to receive his award.
Afterwards, when we were in the car I asked if he had a good time at the race. He said he had fun and “knew he was going to win”. I then asked how he “knew he was going to win”. He just said, “Because I had the best car”. Later on he held his trophy on top of his head and was kind of bragging. “I won a trophy”. “I got the big one”. “Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh”!
It was wonderful that the “kid” finally came out in him and he was joyfully celebrating his victory. The amazing part is that he still was “being a good sport” by celebrating after he was away from the other racers who had not fared as well. I now knew that he had definitely enjoyed the races.
I have been proud of many things my son has done in his five years, but this seemed to be the best. Even though it was hard to keep him entertained and interested in the building, it was very rewarding to have spent the time together. The trophy? The trophy was just the icing.
Jack Helsel
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 4, Issue 13
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