Three time derby winner

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  When a cub scout wins the annual Pinewood Derby three years in a row you have to wonder what kind of mojo he’s got going on for him.

Kevin Ackerman of Nederland pack 170 said he’s a three time winner because his dad knows a lot about physics. Kevin is proud of the fact that he gets to take the big trophy home again. He is getting used to seeing it on the shelf in his bedroom.

The 2016 Annual Pinewood Derby took place last Saturday at the Nederland Community Center. The derby has been a long time tradition in the National Boy Scout Association as well as in Nederland.

The event, a race competition pitting hand-made wooden cars against others in the pack, began in 1953 by Cub Scout Pack 280C of Manhattan Beach, California. The brainchild of Cubmaster Donald Murphy, the derby, publicized in Boys’ Life in October 1954, was an instant hit. The magazine featured plans for the track and car, for “four wheels, four nails, and three blocks of wood.”

The rules stated: The Derby is run in heats – two to four cars starting by gravity from a standstill on a track and run down a ramp to a finish line unaided. The track is an inclined ramp with wood strips down the center to guide the cars.” The rules apply today.

On Saturday, the Nederland derby came down to four finalists: Aric Olsen, Kevin Ackerman, Mason Ivey and Morgan Lake. Each of the boys came up with fairly simple aerodynamic cars, painted in shades of gold and silver, without any bling. Although there were a couple of photo finishes, Ackerman was the clear winner after coming in first consistently.

Once the speed contest was over, the boys and the spectators voted for the coolest car, a purely subjective matter, and Morgan Lake won the contest that will also send his car on to the next level of competition.

Three of the Cub Scouts are moving on after this year, to the next level. Scout leader Terry Olsen says the group welcomes new members and the parents that come with them. The Pinewood Derby is just one of the many fun and educational activities that Cub Scouts participate in, as well as becoming models for service work in the community.

Fun Facts from the BSA:

A fast Pinewood Derby car can reach a speed of nearly 20 miles per hour.

If a Pinewood Derby car racing down the track was enlarged to the size of a real automobile, it would be reaching speeds of more than 200 miles an hour.

Over the years, Cub Scouts have built close to 100 million Pinewood Derby racers.

If you lined up all the Pinewood Derby race cars, bumper-to- bumper, they would reach more than 7,000 miles – far enough to stretch from Charlotte, North Carolina, to the North Pole!

If every Pinewood Derby car made this year took just one run down the track, the combined distance would be from the Earth to the Moon and back. Reader’s Digest magazine included the Pinewood Derby in its 2006 Best of America list as “a celebrated rite of spring.”


Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.

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