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Pinewood Derby: boy-built the night before

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cc329, I think you answered for yourself, the question in your first paragraph. I have seen many boys leave crying, not because they didn't leave with something but because their car didn't do well. When paired up against cars that are adult built, the field is then skewed.


The idea isn't for the Cub to do ALL the work himself. It is intended to be a parent/son experience. But when you are running a race and hear parents scream for "their car" while their scout is off somewhere else, there is a problem. When the boy is no where to be found at check-in and doesn't have a clue how the car was put together, much less that there really IS weight added to the car, there is a problem. And what is that dry graphite for anyway?


It is a tricky situation. At the very least, we expect that the boy can't cut the car. He will also probably need help putting those wheels on. However, he can paint it and add things to the body all by himself.


Living vicariously should equate to partipating, not taking over the project.



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And I have to add that I think those that I speak of in my last post are the overwhelming minority. I think a bigger issue might be that a boy doesn't have enough help. That the adult doesn't even try to figure out how to make a car legally faster.


There might be more cars on the track that are significantly slower than those that are significanly faster.

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hmmm...interesting points Jerry. I guess I'm assuming all districts run their Derbies like we do.


Our boys MUST weigh in and race their own cars. After all, it is their car! Parents are not allowed to be in the race areas (we even use our Webelo II boys as 'security' to make sure the cars are not disturbed).


Over and over some boys trek from the scale to the "pit" to hot glue on another washer to up their weight to reach the exact gram. After final inspection the only one allowed to touch the car is the scout. He himself must put his car on the track to race, not even the adult working the release is allowed to touch it.


So the concept that the boys don't know what the weights are, or that they are no where to be found when their car is racing is inconceivable.


We do emphasize the that this is the BOYS project with adult help. Maybe our adults just don't have the nerve, or would be to embarassed, to stand up and shout for "their" car. Our adults seem to give the boys the credit.


We also have a 'best of show' category, and the judges for that are told to look for the cars the boys made themselves (we dont' tell the boys or the adults this). That way the boys that did have to do it alone also get recognition.


I've seen boy built cars fall apart on the track...I've seen Dad built car fall apart on the track. I've seen Dad built cars be disqualified for modifications. All in all, Dad built cars are no guarantee of a win.


We've never tried a "building clinic". Maybe that would make some of the supposedly superior builder Dad's happy if they could run that??

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We use many of those same tactics that you do, cc329. They do work quite well.


I think that the key to this the whole process is a well-managed inspection process. If the rules are clear and published for all, the inspection process should be cut and dry. All of your rule-benders should be turned away. Now, that doesn't do much for those parents who don't do a little research to figure out how to make the car leagally roll faster. But you would hope that those are the ones who show up at the clinics.

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Luckly, we have not had problems with "parent built" cars. We do run an "Adult Race" - but about the only adults that participate are the den & pack leaders.


cc329 - I do not understand what would make a car look like the boy made it themselves in order to qualify for your "best in show" category? We have had some very good looking cars that I know were scout built. Last year, a Webelos-II did a replica of a hot wheels police car, complete with a flashing light bar. Looked fantastic. As good if not better than I could have done, and I am an avid model builder.


The car that my son built last year (as a Tiger Cub) looks better than one of the cars that my Dad built for me when I was a cub scout.


I did the rough cut of the shape, drilled holes for the weights, and held the dremel tool that turned the axels while he polished them.


He sanded & painted the body, added the weights, filled the holes, and even put his own wheels on (I held the axel while he pounded it in).


Because I have experience with modeling, I did give him 2 bits of advice:

- Spray paint gives a better look than brush.

- Stickers purchased from the scout store would make cool looking flames & are easy to do (as my son says "everybody knows that flames make the car go faster").


As for cheering parents? Don't get me started on how loud my Wife and Father-in-Law got while watching my son take 4th place overall (missed 3rd by .003 seconds) in a combined District race with that same car...


I will agree with you Jerry - there are too many cubs that do not get the right sort of help, or worse yet, no help at all.





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