NASCAR for Kids

Our boys recently joined a Cub Scout pack in the area. One of the spring projects that they have is called Pinewood Derby. Each of the boys is given a block of (pine) wood, 4 wheels and axles and they build a car to compete in the “Derby,” where they race on a track and get prizes for winning or having the best design or whatever.

I had heard of this when I was a kid, and have even seen a demonstration once, where they were racing the cars. It was so cool! But, never having been a Cub Scout, I have never built or raced a Pinewood Derby car.

I was a little nervous about the whole thing because I had never built one, I don’t have a band saw to cut the shape of the car out, and I had two to build (one for each son). But once we got started, the process went pretty well and we could work on it over several weekends.

Sanding it downWe started out by cutting the shape out with a coping saw and then sanding it into shape.

Attention to detail

We then painted the cars and added the trim. ~K~ wanted to be Number 8 because his favorite driver is Dale Earnhardt Jr. ~D~ likes Jeff Gordon, so he was Number 24.

Yellow lightening Red flash

Here’s the final result once we had the wheels on:

2007_03Mar_5772 2007_03Mar_5765

There is actually more going on than just building the car. I talked to some more experienced Cub Scout dads and they said that you have to sand and polish the axles to make them smooth so the car can go faster. You also have to make the car as heavy as possible (5 oz. without going over) because this apparently makes the car go faster.

This past Sunday was race day and we were looking forward to testing the cars out. I was expecting that we would race on a nice Pinewood Derby track like this :(because from talking with dads from other packs said that they share a track among all the packs in the area.)

They even said there is an electronic timer at the finish line so you can tell what cars finish first.

When we got to the Derby, the actual track looked like this:2007_03Mar_5805

A huge disappointment. The fancy track had been available, but the Cub scout leader didn’t want to take the 3 hours that it would’ve taken to put the track together. (If only he had asked for help!)

The kids still had a good time, but after all the work, I (and several of the other dads) were disappointed with the outcome. You couldn’t even tell who won the race because the cars would go every which way once they got onto the pavement of the parking lot. (But I guess winning isn’t the important thing.)
Overall, we had a good time, and I had been looking for a project to work on with the kids. So from that standpoint, it was all good. And maybe next year we can convince the Cub Scout leader to use the other track.


One thought on “NASCAR for Kids

  1. Pingback: The Derby « Not (quite) Balanced

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