Saturday, January 23, 2010

Racing with Cub Scouts

It had been a really long time since I raced a pinewood derby. In fact, I am intentionally not counting the years it has been since I was in Cub Scouts racing a car that Dad and I put together.
It was pretty fun to remember the times melting lead to weight down the car all those years ago. I remember that we won the first race with it and I felt really good about it.

Now fast forward...probably not all that many years...honestly, I only have a 7 year, old soon to be 8. I CAN'T be THAT old!

Bryce is in Cub Scouts, and it was our first try at a Pinewood Derby. Bryce picked out a great looking design and we spent a few nights cutting it and sanding...and sanding...and sanding...and loading weights into the body and puttying it in to make it look good. Heck, even if it wasn't faster than a really fast gastropod, it was going to look good doing it. We painted it Bryce's pick of a fire engine red (personally my favorite too) and loaded up the wheels with graphite and put stickers and a lead engine shaped weight on the back. I mean it, I would have been proud to race this car. You should have seen Bryce's face when I gave him the spray paint can. "You're going to let ME use it?" I was somewhat worried that we would both be painted more red than the car, but I kept my mouth shut after my initial instructions. He painted perfectly and the car gleamed with it's fresh red color.

We worked on the wheels to get them aligned and lubed them with a dry graphite. I wish now that I had worked them more to break them in, but I was worried that I would get the alignment out of whack so off we went to the weigh in.

The car only needed two pennies of extra weight to get it to the maximum 5oz. By the way, a penny is one tenth of an ounce exactly. Yep, you learn something new every day.

Saturday morning came, and we went off to the early morning basketball game and cheer leading for Bryce and Ansley. After we rushed home for some lunch, we were off again to the races. I had planned on going mountain biking since I figured that we wouldn't do all that well against the more experienced parents. Oh, did I say parents? I mean kids...since no parent would take the helm and force their kid to race some car that they didn't design...

Race 1 - Bryce won by quite a bit. Then it didn't register due to some technical difficulty. So a restart was called. Bryce won by quite a bit again, and actually set the course record. WOW! What a start!

Race 2 - The little Red car came in with almost the same time, but was a few hundredths slower, resulting in a second place. Literally, hundredths of a second. These people take this stuff seriously. His car was really consistent during all the races. His course record still stood.

Race 3 - Another car had a good run and Bryce lost by hundredths of a second. His record STILL stood though.

Race 4 - Another car had finally run a great time and the course record fell, and Bryce came in third.

All in all, Bryce averaged the second fastest time of his Den, and the second fastest average time of all the Scout Dens in his Tigers rank.

He came away with some serious hardware for his first Pinewood derby event. Not too shabby.

He is already talking about what design he wants to set up next year. Sadly, my hyper-competitive nature is thinking the same thing. I want to make sure that the stuff I can help him with makes his car as fast as possible. I won't force him to race some super sleek design that will have a better chance to win. If he wants to race a tank with cannons or the QE2 next year, I'll cut the wood for him and let him at it, but the weight, wheels and axles will be as good as they can be.

Congratulations to Bryce! He will probably sleep with the trophies tonight...

I hope he doesn't hit his head on them while sleeping.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! He did so well in his very first Pinewood Derby GO BRYCE! I remember a race or two like that and I'm sure my car, and your car,Brad were nowhere nearly as good as Bryce's--our third generation at this.

There is something special about Scouting. Hope Bryce continues to enjoy it . . . may we have an Eagle Scout someday? Love, Dad/Papa