They say the rules of the Cub Scout pinewood derby have changed over the last 65 years about as often as the U.S. Constitution – not very often. Actually, of the 11 official rules of the Boy Scouts of America, eight of them date back to the very first pinewood derby.

The first pinewood derby took place in 1953 in Manhattan Beach, California. According to the BSA, Cubmaster of Pack 280C, Don Murphy, was the one who started the miniature car race as a way to foster the father-son connection and to provide an activity promoting craftsmanship and good sportsmanship.

That tradition continued on Saturday, January 13, at Rochester Memorial School when Cub Scout Pack 30 held its own annual pinewood derby.

Rows of little handmade gravity-powered wooden cars, 30 in total, lined the table near the long metal track that started up on top of the cafetorium stage and slanted steeply down, beginning with a 30 degree angle until zero about 45 feet later.

Four at a time, the cars raced each other down at speeds that surpassed 200 miles per hour, for what else would you expect from cars with names like “Green Lightning” and “The Fireball”?

Although each pack is allowed to set its own rules surrounding the specs of the cars, the BSA “Rules of the Box” that come inside each Grand Prix Pinewood Derby kit limit the width to 2¾ inches, the length to 7 inches, the width between wheels at 1¾ inches, and the weight to less than 5 ounces. The car has to have been made that year and not raced in previous years, and only official Cub Scout Grand Prix Pinewood Derby wheels and axels are permitted.

“Each boy makes their own individualized car,” said Assistant Cubmaster Brandon Empey, whose two boys are Cub Scouts in Pack 30. In the days leading up to the derby and during the event itself, Empey said, “The cooperation along with the sense of competitiveness really comes out.”

“They’re being great,” added Empey. “The kids are really into it.”

The winners in order of place were Logan Empey, Jack Wronski, Ethan Empey, Eli Mecham, Connor O’Leary, and Cash Jerome.

Other prizes based on design went to Cash Jerome who won Best Paint Job for his car “Yeti,” Owen Murphy whose car “Wolfenstein” was deemed Best Wedge Design, Timothy Mentzer’s “Lucky Leopard” won Most Artistic, and Kelsey Robertson won Most Decal Award for his ‘bus’ honoring Captain Underpants.

“It went great,” said Cubmaster Jeff Jerome. “A hundred-percent success thanks to all the volunteers and leaders.

The regional derby will take place at RMS from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on March 31, with the top six cars from the area packs competing to make it to the next level. Up to 100 cars will be racing in this event.

By Jean Perry

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