2007-03-29 / News

Derby tests car builders' creativity

By Adrienne Downing

Reece Bennett, Josef Cohen and Kyle Rafferty look on in anticipation to see whose car finished first in the heat at the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby on Saturday. Photo by Adrienne Downing Reece Bennett, Josef Cohen and Kyle Rafferty look on in anticipation to see whose car finished first in the heat at the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby on Saturday. Photo by Adrienne Downing Forty-two Cub Scouts gave up sleeping in and morning cartoons on Saturday and flocked to the Jamestown Community Center for the annual Pinewood Derby. The scouts put their cars to the test after weeks of designing, shaping, painting and perfecting them. There was a pit area for anyone who wanted to make last-minute adjustments, but for most, the problem solving was complete before the race.

The race was divided into five divisions: Tiger, first grade, Wolf, second grade, Bear, third grade, Webelos I, fourth grade and Webelos II, fifth grade. There were enough heats in each division to allow each car one run on every lane of the six-lane track.

After the division races, there was a finals race with the top 25 fastest racers competing.

The cars were required to be a maximum of 5 ounces, 2.75 inches in width, 7 inches in length and 3.5 inches in height and for some racers the weight requirement was the biggest challenge.

Cole Haly, who finished first in the Bear division, made his car exactly five ounces, but did not know the paint would add so much weight to the car. After the car was painted, he had to drill holes in the bottom of the car to reduce the amount of weight.

"There are so many holes in the bottom of that car it looks like Swiss cheese. I thought if they drilled another hole in it that it would just disintegrate," said his mom, Traci.

Jacob Maguire had just the opposite problem with his car. Although there is no minimum weight requirement, the racers want their cars to be as close to the maximum weight as possible to be more competitive.

"My car was only two ounces on Thursday night, so we had to put coins on the bottom and weights on the top to make it weigh more," he said. His strategy worked because he finished in third place overall. He, along with the first and second place finishers, will move on to the district race in April hosted by Pack 29 in Narragansett.

"I don't know if everyone has a track like this, but this is a really nice setup," Julie Maguire, his mom, noticed.

Cubmaster Bill Pratt said the track was purchased by the pack two years ago and explained that it is not just a matter of having it put together and ready to run.

"Getting it set up and getting the sensors to work really takes a lot of work. We had parents here last night (Friday) setting up. There is a computer that the sensors are hooked to and John Yarger really did a great job putting all that together for us," Pratt said. "We really appreciate the support of the community and that they allow us to use the community center because it helps the event go smoothly by being able to set up here."

Completing the setup work early allowed racers to arrive on Saturday morning, register their cars and start racing.

Awards were given for the top six finishers in each division, the top six overall racers, best of show, sportsmanship and several other design categories.

Finn Dwyer finished in first place overall with an average time of 3.1029. Isaac Spivak, with an average time of 3.1063, finished in second place and Jacob Maguire finished third with a time of 3.1065. Ben Stewart finished fourth, Kyle Rafferty, fifth and Joshua Neronha came in sixth place.

The sportsmanship award was presented to Webelo Ryan Geib. Ian Archibald perfected his theme by making his car a wiener mobile and wearing an oversized hot dog hat. For his efforts, he took home the Best in Show award.

Pratt commended all of the scouts for their hard work and noted how the derby fits in with the overall Boy Scout mission.

"Tradition is part of the Boy Scouts and this derby has been going on for more than fifty years. There have been over 10 million derby cars raced since the first race in the 1950s," he explained.

"It is good for the kids because they get a sense of accomplishment from it. The take a block of wood and make something out of it and they get to spend time with their parents in the process," he said.

The Jamestown Boy Scouts have a rolling enrollment, so anyone interested may join at anytime.

"We do a lot of fun activities. We march in the Memorial Day parade and do campouts in May and October. The scouts are a service based organization and what we really do is help other people," Pratt concluded.

For more information on the Jamestown Pack, call Bill Pratt at 423-1698 or Greg DiGasper at 423-2468.

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