Daniel picked up his Pinewood Derby kit at the Cub Scout Christmas party. He had been thinking about his car for awhile, but it took him another week before he could tell me what he planned to do with it. He finally decided to pattern his derby car after a Ferrari, courtesy of Hot Wheels.
I couldn’t take Daniel to his first den meeting in January. Meka drove him over instead. Daniel gave her directions while she worked a band saw to slice up the block of wood in the kit. This took some time, but it was faster than using the hacksaw (which is what Daniel used last year).
Daniel decided his car should be a fiery red. Daniel spent a Sunday afternoon sanding down the rough spots while I trudged out to Wal Mart to pick up a can of spray paint. It was fifteen below zero outside and not much warmer in the garage. I put a thin coat of paint on the car, but it took quite awhile for it to get tacky. We ended up spending a week painting the car, averaging one coat a night.
Belvidere doesn’t have a Cub Scout store. The nearest one is in Rockford. We made the forty-five minute drive over there and picked up some small weights. Daniel also found some decals he wanted to put on “like a real race car”. We taped on the weights when we got home and got the car close to five ounces (the regulation weight for Pinewood Derby cars). Daniel carefully rubbed on the deals and added a back window made of silver tape.
Friday night, we tried the car out on our “test track”. We rolled it back and forth on the kitchen floor. We have a grid pattern in the tile and could tell if the car tended towards the right or left. A careful whack on one wheel or another with a ball peen hammer slowly brought the car into alignment. We glued the axles in place and let them dry overnight.
Daniel and I got up early and made the trek over to Belvidere North High School. The official weigh-in began at 9:30 for the Bear Scouts. Daniel’s car was the right weight, but one of the weights (added as a “bumper”) made the car too long. Luckily, we’d attached them with tape and within a few minutes, Daniel’s car had a spoiler instead of a bumper. We waited in line again and this time everything checked out.
There were eighteen races scheduled for the Bears. Daniel’s first one was the fourteenth. He sat by the wooden track with his car in his lap. When it was his turn finally, he carefully set his Ferrari at the top of the track with two other cars. The scoutmaster counted down, the assistant started the computer recording equipment and they pressed a button. All three cars rolled down the track to the finish line. He came in second in his first race, first in his second race and second in his third race. Daniel didn’t get a trophy this year, but he got a ribbon for his effort: five weeks of work boiled down to less than eight seconds of race time.