Pinewood Derby 2010

This year was our fourth pinewood derby. Last year I had intended that Nathan would do a majority of the work on the car this year. I figured he’s nearly ten and could handle nearly everything on his own.

Then over the summer, I bought a table top jig saw at a garage sale for $20. The throat on the saw was exactly the same as the width of the car. Did I mention that I had to remove the safety guard to get it to fit? So, I wasn’t about to let Nathan use a saw with no safety guard.

We spent one evening shaping and priming the car. Aside from the rough cutting, Nathan did most of the rest.

Then the car sat in our basement for two weeks because life just got too busy. Next thing I know it is Thursday, and the race is Saturday, and I started to seriously contemplate entering one of his previous cars. Fortunately, we had some time to paint the car on Thursday. Friday came, and at 5:40, I realized I didn’t have any weights for the car, and the Scout shop would be closing in 20 minutes. And I was just leaving work, 20 minutes away. I called Anne, who graciously agreed to run to the store, and she got in just in time, picking up the weights we needed.

We spent Friday evening in the basement carving out a cavity in the bottom of the car for the weights, and finishing the wheels. As Nathan got ready for bed, I took the opportunity to photograph the car, and gather supplies I need to run the race.

The race went very smoothly for the first 33 heats.  Since I was running the race, I didn’t take very many pictures. I got this one however, with Nathan’s car winning by a car length, and the number 2 car just crossing the line.

When the software refused to tell me the results so that I could run finals, I contemplated having a panic attack. Fortunately, one of the parents was just as computer litterate as I was, but wasn’t “on-the-spot” so he was thinking about the situation a little more clearly. We loaded the race file into Excel, and finally figured out how to query to get the results. Of the 33 racers, there was a nice clear dividing line between the top eight and the rest, so I ran the finals with 8 racers.

And the result is…

Nathan’s car came in second–a highly respectable showing.

After the race, many of the boys decided to play crash-em-derby and run their cars into each other on the stage. Nathan’s car broke an axle, making me very glad I’d taken pictures the night before.

Except for the software problems (a conflict with my Windows 7 laptop, I think), I really enjoyed running the race. I had intentionally not planned very much detail about the event–just the start time, and a little bit of thought about what I would need to take. Everything else fell into place as other adults jumped in to help out.  As I called the races, I actually had a few moments to sit back and enjoy all the fun everyone seemed to be having–the kids were great, the adults were helpful, and there were no tears (not even from me).