Pinebox derby stirs creativity, excitement for scouts
Leader with Troop 450 starts a race Saturday. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 24, 2013 3:44PM
DEERFIELD — Saturday night, 44 racecars sped toward the finish line at Walden Elementary in Deerfield in the annual Walden Cub Scouts’ Pinewood Derby. Weighing in at 5 ounces each, these cars were carefully crafted by Cub Scout Pack 450, and local Girl Scouts, along with their parents.
Lydia St. John, who had a son and a daughter participating in the race, said the event was much more than just a competition – it’s a learning experience.
“I think what they learned was the intricacies involved, like the proper cutting of the wood and the angle to increase the speed of the car,” St. John said. “At this point we’re not trying to build Eagle Scouts, we’re just trying to teach them and have a good time.”
St. John said each participant was given a block of wood from the Boy Scouts, and that the racers can be as creative as they want with their racecar, as long as it weighs in at 5.0 ounces or less. St. John said at the Jan. 16 official weigh-in, some children were either adding or taking weight off their cars to reach that exact 5.0 ounces.
Michael Erdman said his son, Seth, a first grader, and daughter, Amelia, a 3rd grader, are taking part in the event for the first time, and that it was a very special time for him.
“I was a Cub Scout as a boy and remember doing this with my father some 35 years ago,” Erdman said. “Now I’m literally doing again with my own kids in my own basement.”
Erdman said he certainly saw differences between his son and his daughter, as far as their building specifications.
“I would say I think my daughter was perhaps a little more focused on the appearance of the car, not necessarily aerodynamics,” Erdman said. “My son was a little more hands-on, like if there was a cut to be made or something to be sanded off he had more a technical interest in it.”
To make the event even more special to Erdman and his children, Erdman’s father, Bernie, flew in just for Saturday’s race.
“We’ll be there at the derby cheering them on,” Bernie Erdman said. “I remember doing it with their dad when he was their age and we had a great time.”
Michael Erdman’s son, Seth, said he decorated his car with American flag stickers, and the number 167.
“One because I think my car will be first place, six because I am six, and seven because next year in the Scouts I will be seven,” Seth said.
Amelia said she also put a lot of thought into the numbers on her car.
“I chose 19, one because I think my car will win, and nine because I am nine and want to remember that when I get older,” Amelia said.
St. John’s daughter, Emmy, a fourth grader, said she raced for the first time this year, and that it was a lot of fun, as well as very educational.
“It was really easy and it was enjoyable,” Emmy said. “I cut it diagonally then made curves into it.”
Emmy said she learned a lot about the proper way to use wood-cutting machinery as well.
“Even if I wasn’t doing it on the machines, it would still be fun,” Emmy said. “I knew how to hold my block of wood properly on the machinery and how to sand it and cut it.”
As far as inviting the Girl Scouts to participate in the race, St. John said it only made sense.
“They have brothers participating, so why not have them involved,” she added.
The winners included in the Cub Scouts category: Tiger Cubs (First Grade) - Carlitos Pacheco’s “Angry;” Wolf Cubs (Second Grade) - Matthew St. John’s “Future Force;” Bear Cubs (Third Grade) - Jeffery Battle’s “Skull Ripper;” Junior Webelos (Fourth Grade) - Tommy DiNardo’s “Deathwish;” and Senior Webelos (Fifth Grade) - Jonah Winter’s “Rook Rocket.”
Winners in the Girl Scouts category included: Daisy (First Grade) - Ainslee Battle’s “Orange Diamonds;” Junior Brownies (Second Grade) - Eliza Kalina’s “Perry the Platypus; ”Brownies (Third Grade) - Lisa Pacheco’s “Bodymobile;” and Junior Girl Scouts (Fourth Grade) - Emmy St. John’s “Rock Star.”
Ethan DiNardo’s “Blue Streak” bested in the Siblings Group category.
The top 3 times recorded among all car entries are as follows:
Tommy DiNardo at 7.47 seconds; Steven DiNardo at 7.57 seconds; and Matthew St. John at 7.59 seconds.