Race Day!

By Chip Rowe

The concept is simple: Take a rectangular block of pine wood, four regulation plastic wheels and four nails and carve out a race car that weighs no more than 5 ounces, is not longer than 7 inches and not wider than 2.75 inches. Talk to your mom or dad about gravity, friction and air drag. Consider adding weights and polishing the nails. Hope your parents don’t get lost in a black hole online after Googling “fastest Pinewood Derby cars.”

Put it in a track with four other cars. Scream and yell to make it go faster.

Race Night!

This year the parents and supporters of Pack 137 added a twist — an “outlaw” derby for adults held in the evening, after the Scouts raced in the afternoon, with beer and friendly (?) wagers. There were rules but enforcement was lax.

The Philipstown Cub Scouts (Pack 137) held its annual Pinewood Derby on Saturday (March 9) at the Philipstown Recreation Center in Garrison. The track was new after a stalwart built by local craftsman Tony Yannitelli decades ago was retired.

The Pinewood Derby was created in 1953 by Don Murphy, a Scoutmaster in California, for his 10-year-old son, who was too young to race in the traditional Soap Box Derby. “I wanted to devise a wholesome, constructive activity that would foster a closer father-son relationship and promote craftsmanship and good sportsmanship through competition,” Murphy explained. Tens of millions of Scouts have since built derby cars.

Photos by Ross Corsair