By Debbie Montgomery
Pinewood lacquered with ingenuity lined up in 75 shapes for the annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby at the Mall at Barnes Crossing Saturday.
A field of Tigers, Cubs and Webelos, representing 20 packs and supported by cheering families, raced for top honors in the Apilachi District show.
Seven-inch planks, weighing no more than 5 ounces, are designed to challenge the physics of velocity on a standard 48-foot track, said Bruce Crose, derby committee chairman.
The cars race across the elevated track in two to three seconds. “A scientist once told me that if the vehicles were actual automobile size, they would be traveling almost 200 mph,” he said.
“(The derby) helps teach self reliance … and ingenuity,” said District Executive Darren Gantt.
With so many other technological distractions in the form of video games and motorized toys, the old-fashioned derby brings back the basics.
“It's a spirit of competition … something they can put their hands on. It's so different – not an X-Box competition,” Gantt said.
Shoe boxes served as portable garages and contained last minute competitive secrets such as masking tape and graphite.
Preston Moffett of Pack 229 captured first place in the speed division.
There was a banana, a shark, rocket cars, army tanks and even Ole Miss roadsters. NASCAR reversed to wooden jalopies as several sported Dale Earnhardt's 8. It was the guitar entered by Spence Burleson that caught the judges' attention.
Thomas Dukeminier, 9, recently won his Pack 101's most original competition but his younger brother James, 7, captured third Saturday in best design with his Firebird. His dad, Walker Dukeminier, credits the competition with bringing out the youngsters' imagination. “It teaches them camaraderie. There's a lot of interaction and cheering for other teammates.”
“It's a lot of fun and adventure,” Thomas added.
The top design Saturday was Pack 229's Benjamin Steele and his rocket-shaped eagle. The design was in honor of the soldiers serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, he said.