Pinewood Derby Memory – How close? Very close.

I am the Cascade Pacific Council Thunderbird District Pinewood Derby Chairman, and have been so for about five years. For several years more I have also been holding pinewood derby speed clinics for Cub Scouts in my district, as well as pinewood derby classes at the yearly council Pow Wow for adult Cub Scout leaders. The intention is to make as many as possible aware of the rules applicable to pinewood derby car building, as well as creating a level playing field by sharing building techniques and speed secrets.
In the pack I am associated with we have an Open Class division for anyone who wishes to build and race a car. The main intention is to help prevent a Dad from dominating the building process for his son’s car (much like you see in the movie Down and Derby). Of course fun for more people is the byproduct. I also have an open class division during the district race. In both cases the cars must be built to the same standards as the Cub Scouts cars.
When I hold a Speed Clinic, I hold nothing back. All the building techniques I know are shared with all. This has played against me as far as my being able to dominate in the open class races!
At last spring’s district race a man named John, who happens to also have a son in the same pack as mine, built and raced a car that was the equal of mine. Just how equal I would not have suspected.
We use a six lane aluminum Best Track and a computer program to place and track the cars for the district race. Each car runs six times, once on each lane. The races for all ages had gone smoothly throughout the day and now it was time for the Open Class to race.
The Open Class cars thundered down the track to much cheering. My car was doing well and so was John’s car. When the dust settled and the results were tabulated and compiled by the computer, the operator of the track, Tony, turned to me with a look of shock on his face. He told me I lost to John and it had been close. How close? Very close.
Over six runs of accumulated time of about 20 seconds I had lost to John by a mere one thousandth of a second! Well you just can’t get much more equal then that; and oh yeah, my 13 year old son’s car beat both of us.
Randal Veenker
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 11
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