Posted by: randommisfires | January 22, 2009

Pinewood Derby Debacle

My apologies to all you scouters out there.  I might offend.  Because I am not a fan of the pinewood derby.  I like it better than the space race or the raingutter regatta,  but still not a fan.  The cars take time to build, the boys don’t do much besides get out of the way, and the parents feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to make the car both look good and run fast.  And the kit doesn’t come with all of the parts to make that happen, like the weights.  For a busy mom, it is just one more thing to do poorly and then watch the children learn how to handle the agony of defeat and kind of graceful losing.  Which isn’t a bad lesson, but I can teach them that without the 5-10 hours of car building.

And it annoys the girls that they never get to do anything like this.

So, when the car kit came home, I cried a little on the inside.  And then I told Dave I was absolutely not building the car this year.  And the Dave told me he has a major project at work and had to work late all week.

Three nights before the derby, the car was still not started.  So Dave asked T to go get it and they could start planning and cutting.  Naturally, in the week T has had the kit, it has disappeared (and we still haven’t found it). After searching high and low, it’s clear we are going to have to go buy a new kit.

At the hobby store, we hit the jackpot for busy parents, pre-cut cars.  Cheating?  Maybe.  Sanity restoring?  Absolutely!  Losing anyway?  Almost certainly.  So we plunked down our cash in what was bound to be the most expensive pinewood derby loss this family has ever seen. And with 5 years of scouting under our belts, there is an impressive record to work with.

We got home and T immediately started crying.  It turns out he cared way more about shaping and sanding the car than he did about winning.  Go figure.  Which means I have now added insult to injury.  As always!

But, he settled down to choose paint colors and decorating accents while Dad drilled holes for weights and polished wheels. I helped decorate and paint the car, spraying a shiny coat of gloss over the entire thing.

And then, all hell broke loose.

While attaching the wheels, Dave put a giant thumbprint right over the numbers on the car, in the middle of the not-quite-dry shiny gloss.  And  it didn’t buff out.

So, with the wheels attached, I sprayed a new coat of gloss over the whole car.  And then I started crying.

In my attempts to have the best looking car, I sprayed stickiness on the wheels, ensuring that T’s car would never even leave the starting line, let alone cross the finish.  And it didn’t buff off.

With less than 30 minutes left before time to check the car in, the screaming ensued.

Me: E!  E!  I need 4 matching wheels from an old car!  Now!

E: I can only find 3!

Me: Search!  look harder!  The other one has to be here!

And we proceeded to turn his room inside out, finding a 4th wheel wedged into a crack in the back of his closet.

New wheels shined, graphited, and attached, we rushed off to have the car weighed in and settled in, preparing T for a certain loss once the plastic hit the track.

But much to my surprise, he placed.  First place.  Who would have guessed it?

Who's awesome?  You're awesome!

Who's awesome? You're awesome!

Next year, two cars.  I don’t know if I can handle the pressure.



  1. Congrats to him, from one first-place pinewood winner to another.

    I lost the trophy long ago, but I still have my car on the shelf in the living room. It still has the white-painted fishing sinker (made of genuine lead, probably can’t get those anymore) that we painted up to look like a driver as well as get the car just a shade under the weight limit.

  2. Haha and a mighty fine looking car it is too! Congratulations!! 🙂

  3. Can’t you just use the same car and win again next year? Is that dishonest and against the Scout Oath? I wouldn’t care and that is one of the reasons my son is not in scouts.

    You, Dave and the derby winner should all go out for ice cream…way to go!

  4. I love it! And the picture is priceless!

  5. And let’s not forget that the car ended up being .3 oz under max weight.

  6. Congrats on the win! You should write a tips book for Pinewood Derby winning strategies!

    And where is E’s neckerchief? And council strip? And pack numerals? You must be some sort of bad mom or something. The shame.

    Oh, and I’ve been asked to make the trophy stands for our P.D. Would you send me a few pics of the stand by itself pretty please?

  7. Congratulations!!! Finally, vindication for all the pain and agony building those cars over the past five years.

    I love the picture. It says it all.

    And don’t worry if they don’t win next year, at least your efforts were rewarded one year!

  8. Hi, just came across your blog ‘randomly’. Funny thing, we have our race tomorrow morning. Maybe I’ll blog about our race as well.

    Congrats on winning!

  9. Way to go, T! This award has always alluded any of our scouters. If Kev had his way he would never do another car. I told him to buck up–he only has nine more to go. . .

  10. Brig- Yes, I am a slacker mom. I took the cubmaster seriously when he said that boys are old enough to be responsible for their own uniforms. If only he had realized that my kids could care less if they have patches or badges or numbers or ribbons or neckerchiefs!

    I will take pictures and measurements. emailing shortly.

    Tammy- welcome! How did you wind your way here?

  11. I clicked on the random blog arrow and wah-lah, there was your PWD post. We had our race today as I mentioned, but the awards will be given out Monday night. My son won 1st in in his Webelo den, but didn’t do as well overall.

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