Re: Pinewood Derby
Carol Kelley (ckelley@CAMBER.COM)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 09:40:30 -0600
At 01:18 PM 11/8/97 -0500, Richard wrote:
>1. Do most packs buy the cars for the boys or do they ask the boys to buy
> their own? We have always bought them but are unable to this year and I
> wondered how other packs handle it.
>2. Does anyone have a foolproof scheme for racing off a den of 16 boys on a
> 3-lane manual track with no fancy timers or gates or anything?
>Thanking everyone in advance,
In our pack we always buy the cars for the boys. However, if your pack
cannot afford it, one suggestion might be that if you have Santa at your
Christmas party, have the parents buy and wrap the cars and have Santa give
them the cars.
As far as racing off the den, even though we have an electronic finish
line, we do not have a timer. So we run everything in single elimination.
By the way, we do not have den races. We have a single pack race with
everyone competing equally. We have used this method for the past five
years in our pack, and it has worked beautifully every time. My father
taught it to me after a disastrous PW Derby race in my oldest son's Wolf
Year. My father ran the pack races for my brothers when they were Cub
Scouts and built a track and ran several races around the council and ran
the district race. He and a bunch of engineer friends also did a bunch of
wind tunnel testing on the cars and spent countless hours at work
determining ways to make the silly things run better. They also had a
chunk of metal milled that weighed exactly 5 ounces to calibrate the scale.
As you can see we were a PW Derby family. I think I built as many Derby
Cars as my brothers did. Consequently, I also run the PW Derby race every
year for my boys (My father also helps, he fusses about it, but I know he
wouldn't miss this for anything).
It works as follows:
1. You pick up three cars, run them down the track and note the first
place winner. That is all you are looking for.
2. Have the same three cars change lanes, run them again, look for the
first place winner. If it is the same car, set the winning car on a
"winners table", and set the other cars on a "reserve table". If it is not
the same car, have them change lanes again. Usually, by three times down
the track you will have a car that has won twice. If not, have them change
lanes again and run them. You will definitely have a car that has won
twice by then.
3. Pick up three more cars and repeat the process.
4. Of course with 16 cars, the last two heats will be done with two cars
in each heat.
5. After you have done all sixteen cars, you should have six cars on the
winners table, and the rest on the reserve table.
6. Repeat the process with the 6 winners, running two heats of three.
7. After you have done those 6 cars, you should have 2 cars left.
8. Repeat the process with those 2 cars.
9. The winner of that heat will be your first finalist. Set that car
aside on the "winners" table.
10. Repeat the entire process with the remaining 15 cars. This time you
will get your second finalist. When you have determined the second
finalist, set that car aside on the "winners" table.
11. Repeat the entire process with the remaining 14 cars. This time you
will get your third finalist.
11. If you are sending more than three cars to the pack race, repeat the
process until you have the number of cars you need.
12. Once you get the finalists, have those cars in a runoff. Run this
exactly as you did the larger race and determine first, second, and third
This may sound like a lot of hassle, but it is the only truly fair way to
run a race without a timer. If you don't have an electronic finish line,
also try to find a neutral party to judge the finishes. As you know, this
is (unfortunately) a very competitive thing with most of the parents, and
you have to be very careful to run it exactly right.
CC/Pinewood Derby Chairman - Pack 301
MC - Troop 1
Tennessee Valley Council
I am a First Class Girl Scout
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City