Derby Cars

This weekend, we built a car. Actually, we built two, although they aren’t finished yet. But when they are done, they are going to be awesome!

For the last three years, we have each built a pinewood derby car. If you don’t know what a pinewood derby car is, you probably never knew any Cub Scouts. If you do know what it is, you are probably thinking of that one family who went crazy every year, regardless of whether their car won or not. The Pinewood Derby can be a very emotional and intense race, bringing out the worst in some people. Despite all of that, it is the greatest Cub Scout activity in the world! You get this kit that is a block of wood, four nails, and four tires. Then, it is up to you to design, cut, and paint that block of wood. After it is done you race it and hope your wheels don’t come off. The wards (church congregation) we have been in for the last three years have had an open class race for the Pinewood Derby, so after the scouts race anyone who makes a car gets to race.

A lot of thought goes into our cars; not necessarily about how fast they will go, but about how good they will look. It is all about appearances for us in this race. The first year we decided to race, we went with a food theme for our cars; Andrew’s car was a block of Swiss cheese, which he called, “The Cheese Whizz.” It was fun to make because I didn’t have to do any major cutting on it; I just got my drill and put a bunch of holes through it.

Brianna’s car was the best looking hot dog all around. It was carved out of one piece of wood, but the hot dog extended past the bun…thanks to Andrew and his amazing wood working skills. These cars did okay at that race, but since then, we have raced them in other races and both have won! Brianna won first place last year. That sounds great, except that I beat this little Cub Scout, and I was cheering and giving Andrew high fives right in front of this kid (I didn’t know he was there, or that he was the person I beat). And then, I had to get my picture taken holding this huge trophy that they put in the newspaper, so I was actually pretty embarrassed. For work, Andrew often gets invited to Cub Scout events and Pinewood Derbies as a guest, and he just went to one last night. They told him to bring a car to race, and he did, and he got second place and also got a trophy.

Last year, Andrew made the “Big Bang,” which was a bundle of dynamite. Brianna made a canoe, but Andrew said it is a little too chunky for a canoe and looks more like a rowboat. Our cars looked great last year, but looks can be deceiving. In our case, it really was, because we had some of the slowest cars that night. But don’t worry, we still had fun, and we were grateful that we didn’t spend over 20 hours trying to make our cars as aerodynamic as possible, like others did. Actually, the fastest car of the night wasn’t a car; it was the Magic School Bus!

This year, Andrew started brainstorming three weeks ago to find the perfect design. His list of ideas consisted of an anvil, piano, dentures, dragon head, toaster, sandal, foot, a blimp (The Spirit of Adventure), the golden plates, and a smore. He is so creative, isn’t he? And then, just the other day, inspiration “struck.” A bolt of lightning! The funny thing about this car is that it is actually shaped like lightning and on top of it he will have a big metal bolt, which is why he is naming it “The Lightning Bolt.” Have you noticed a theme? Andrew likes to name all his cars. Brianna was not quite as creative; since she's never been a Cub Scout, she never made an actual car. So, this year, she is just making a car. But don’t worry; it will be a race car with a lot of cool features that can’t be disclosed yet in case other racers will want to steal my ideas.

Here are some pictures of our car building process. Luckily Andrew knows how to use a band saw or we would still be carving them a week later with a pocket knife.

They are now cut out and sanded, but we have to paint them, add the wheels and weight, and do all of those finishing touches to make our cars the best looking ones at the race.

But remember, looks can be deceiving. We may or may not write a follow-up post after the race next month.