Re: Pinewood Derby
Mark Riffey (mr@GRANITEBEAR.COM)
Wed, 17 Jun 1998 17:16:24 -0500
At 12:14 PM 6/17/1998 EDT, you wrote:
> I for one believe the Pinewood Derby has become a "Win at all costs"
>event. This last year we had a car which had been machined to the desired
>shape after it was designed on a CAD system.
It isnt here. At least not yet.
I make a point of making this point painfully clear in my annual 4 page
"This is what Pinewood is and isnt about" letter. An excerpt: "helping your
son build his car does not mean cutting and shaping the car to professional
tolerances in your NASCAR shop, apply 7 coats of Porsche lacquer, then
handing the car to your son so he can put a numbered sticker on it...".
FWIW, I use a lot of humor in my Scout work and this is one situation where
it helps. I also start Pinewood off with this comment - "your den leaders
and the other volunteers are here to help the races run smoothly. If you
have a question, need something, etc - ask someone in a pit crew hat. If
you have a complaint or other comment about how things are being done or
how they could be improved, bring it to the guy in the cowboy hat" (I wear
a big cowboy hat to MC Pinewood).
About winning at all costs, that goes as far as you let it, IMO.
<anecdote alert> We had a car with beveled wheels make it thru inspection a
couple years ago. It was a Tiger's car and looked 'kid built' but his mom's
boyfriend had obviously done the wheels up good. I dont know how it made it
thru inspection (not my hat to wear), but it did. I found it when I
inspected the cars prior to the finals between the winning cars from
Tigers, Wolves, Bears and Webelos. I called the mom and boyfriend over and
told them what the problem was. I told them that the car could not race in
that condition and that I couldnt exactly re-race the entire Tiger group
(25 kids) so I would have live with him getting to that point, but that the
buck stopped here. I gave them 2 options. Not race anymore or accept wheels
from another car which had been inspected. The leader who missed the bevels
pulled the polished wheels and axles off her son's car (with permission<g>)
and offered them to the family, noting that they had been prepared well.
They accepted them, though I didnt get the impression they were thrilled. I
made it clear that rules are rules, that I would not sacrifice additional
race results for this, and that we 'do the right thing'. Everyone
re-graphited to even things up (each age group had different # of heats and
we wanted each car evenly lubed) and off we went. The now-un-bevelled
Tiger's car finished 4th of 4. That boy's mom is now one of my Bear leaders
and the boyfriend is still around and friendly to a fault.
Almost forgot, to emphasize the amateur nature of things (and help those
without tools / skills, etc), the letter includes an open invitation to our
car building clinic (ie: me and hopefully another leader or 2 in my garage
with saws). We have a fairly large # of single moms in our pack, so they
are very appreciative of this. The last 2 years, we've had enough work to
keep us busy for over 3 hours. This despite the fact that we only do the
work 'dangerous to the boy'. IE: We ask the boy to bring a picture of the
shape he wants or to draw it directly on the block. We rough it out with a
saw and send him on his merry sandpapering way. I know there are boys who
wouldnt have gotten to race if we didnt do this.
We also have an Outlaw division at our races that is intended to provide an
outlet for siblings and dads with that much time/tools on their hands.
You know, you could turn that kid's dad into a resource. With that sort of
equipment, Im sure there are plenty of pack projects (or troop ones) this
guy can go crazy on.
> I personally hate the electronic timers
We use moms. NO ONE messes with a pair of moms<g>. If they cant decide, we
re-run the race. No one minds.
Keep the faith Steve.
CM, Pack 201, Ozark MO
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City