Pinewood Derby an educational experience

FALLBROOK – On Saturday, March 9, Boy Scout Pack 738 held its annual Pinewood Derby, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church hall. The Fallbrook Vintage Car Club assists with judging for the event and sponsors the Best of Show award.

From the perspective of 8-year-old Cub Scout, Ozzy Minard, it was an educational experience designing, building, and racing a car in the event.

Open to all Cub Scouts, the derby process started with an official, certified Scout pinewood kit, consisting of a rectangular seven-inch block of pine, two steel axles, and four wood wheels. Derby rules state, “Cars should be built by the Cub Scout with some adult guidance.” The adult guidance is meant to be mentor/teacher and a bonding process with the young scout.

After determining the body configuration, Ozzy learned to use tools to shape the wood block, drill axle holes, mount wheels, add optional refinements, and finish the body in his choice of colors. After all this work, the car must meet derby specifications: width 2 ¾ inches, length 7 inches, 1¾ inch between wheels, 3/8 inch track clearance and maximum weight of 5 oz.

With race day approaching, Ozzy performed a final specification check and lubricated the wheel/axle surface with a dry lubricate – messy graphite!

Ozzy arrived at St. Peter’s hall and was issued a Derby Driver’s License at the registration table and was given instructions to complete his race car certification process.

After receiving length and width clearance he moved on to the infamous weight and track

clearance table where Fallbrook Vintage Car Club members Glen and Louise Patterson and Whit Whittinghill assigned the cars numbers if they met the weight and track clearance specification. Ozzy received his car number and his certified race car was then impounded in a secure area. From that point, Ozzy’s race car and the others were only handled by Cub Scout and Fallbrook Vintage Car Club officials.

If a race car failed to meet specifications, Derby rules allowed the driver/owner to make onsite corrections at the maintenance pit stop table before having the car recertified. The derby was a learning experience for the young Cub scouts and correcting deficiencies was part of the learning process.

After all the race cars were impounded, Fallbrook Vintage Car Club judged each entry for design concept, workmanship, and finish. One car, out of all the entries, was honored to receive the car club’s Best of Show award. This award has been presented at the Pinewood Derby for seven years.

Pack 738 had 33 cars certified to race in the 2013 Pinewood Derby.

Each race was run on an aluminum, approved Scout track with electronic timing. The major difference between Pinewood and Nascar racing is the power source; NASCAR has engine power while the Derby has only gravity and friction.

Ozzy won the first two rounds, but was eliminated in the third round. Race elimination rounds continue until first, second, and third place had been determined. The first place winner, Jason Dion of the Webelos Den, will represent Pack 738 at the Regional Cub Scout Pinewood Derby slated for Qualcomm Stadium on April 20.

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