scouts-l Mail Archive for May of 2000: Splintered Pinewoods
Mon May 01 2000 - 23:16:05 CDT
I visited the Council Pinewood Derby in another council during this past
week. About 150 Cub Scouts (each one of the top 3 in their pack) brought
cars to race. The races were held in central areas of a very nice shopping
mall in the council's headquarters city.
1. I watched the cars being raced. So did all the boys who brought their
cars. Track staff raced the cars. (Your reporter represses the urge to rant
about how well boys can race their own cars and how it is much better for
boys to participate than to spectate.)
2. I watched the cars being dropped. During the time I viewed one of the
tracks, I saw the staff drop two cars. The first was dropped only about 5
inches as it was being picked up off the pit table. The other flew to a
height of about 3 feet before arcing back to the hard mall floor. (I left
after that ... I couldn't take it anymore.) Neither episode appeared to be
malicious. It was simply the kind of human error which occurs during a
3. I don't know whose cars were being raced. There was no attempt to tell any
of the spectators//////// Cub Scouts which cars were racing. If you were
among the first row or two if Cubs or parents around the track, you might be
able to tell that a car that you were interested in had raced.
4. I don't know which cars won heats. Again, if you were early enough to
have a good vantage point, you could see the indicators on the electronic
finish lines. (The indicators were kinda dim and I usually wasn't sure.)
5. I looked about for information on how the competition would take place and
how the winners would be determined. Nothing! The pattern, what I could see
of it on the track that I watched, appeared to be a double elimination.
Apparently the highest placing cars from each track would meet to race it off
on one of the 4 tracks. For the first series of heats the cars were raced in
the order that they had registered. After that, the scorekeeper sent pieces
of corrugated cardboard with the pairings for that round. Hmmm.
Lest you believe that I thought it was conducted poorly, I must tell you that
some things were done well.
On the plus side, I think that everything "got taken care of" in about 3 or 4
hours from the time that inspection began.
Also on the plus side, no Cub Scout cheated by graphiting his wheels between
races or by taping extra quarters or washers onto his car to make his car a
little heavier and give it an advantage. I am so relieved that no Scouts were
exposed to the temptation to cheat! (he said with tongue firmly in cheek)
Seriously, the inspection was conducted by some Scouters who clearly knew how
to empathize with youngsters as well as to treat them with respect. A
youngster whose car had less than the expected 3/8" clearance was asked to
bring his car to one of the nearby tracks to check the clearance and be sure
that it would run "on the track". When both were satisfied, the car continued
its path through inspection. Nicely done!
A volunteer Scouter for WD Boyce Council, BSA HQ Peoria, IL