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eBay Pinewood Car

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Our Pinewood Derby rules require the Boys use the standard BSA Grand Prix kits to build their own car. The Boys are permitted to make various improvements to enhance performance.


This year I successfully lobbied for 2 hands-on "Build Workshops" as well as 1 of our Packs more traditional "Skills Workshops" (no car - just practicing on scrap lumber). Single parents, the "all thumbs crowd" & the "tool challenged" really appreciated this effort. As their Cubmaster I enjoyed the chance to work more closely with some of the Boys too.


My wife is a Den Leader. Last night one of her Boys announced that his father bought him a finished car on eBay. A few of the other boys told him he can't race a car he didn't build. I usually stay out of Den Meetings so I didn't learn of this issue until after the Boys went home.


I've already reached out by email to the entire Pack offering added time slots in our final "Build Workshop" as well as other help if the date doesn't work for them. So far no response from the family involved. I cannot sit idly by knowing this car would violate the rules & the Boy won't be allowed to race it.


I already know that I'll end up calling them to offer assistance.


But I'm wondering if other Leaders have found themselves in this same position & what they have done about it.


Thanks in Advance,



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We had a similar issue; however, ours has to do with pre-cut car. No one in our Pack right out bought a completed kit.


Our Pack as others always promote pwd as a parent/cub activity. We continously reminded everyone the fact that they will cheat their son's out of a memory from his childhood.


We hold workshop day as well. We cut the car basic body for anyone who are power-tool challenged. We offer other tools for the cubs to finish their cars. This year, with the proliferation of "pre-cut" bodies on the Internet that are made from BSA block, it has become much harder to regulate the boy made car. One father challenged our rule by stating that what we are doing at the workshop (cutting the body for people) is exactly the same thing as buying the pre-cut body. He has a point; however, I pointed out that the pre-cut, pre-fab bodies on the Internet are ready to paint and race! Our "cut" bodies are far from being finished. There are lots of sanding, rasping, painting ... etc.


We went as far as wrote up all of the tips and tricks from 1st place winners of the past and published it to everyone.


As for a completely built car, my message that I sent to our Pack is


"...Now, you have all of the secrets of make a very competitive car within our Pack. Dont waste your money buying shortcuts. The experience of building the car lasts forever, not winning the

trophy! If wining at all cost is your philosophy and you elected to purchase these shortcuts, then the Pack recommends that for a small fraction of the cost of these kits, a nice size trophy can be purchased for your cub scout. This will guarantee your son of a trophy that he and you desire. Please remember that Pinewood Derby is meant as a quality time and an effort between a parent and child."


It's blunt, but it was meant to be blunt! We reminded folks that these "pre-fab" cars do not always guarrantee of a win!


It is getting harder to keep intact the ideals of pinewood derby ... quality time with your son!


As for your situation,

1) you can "accuse" the father of purchase it over the Internet and would get a) the sobbing story of ... I don't have time or the tools and my son want to race badly or b) this truly made by my son and me.

2) if you can prove that it is a purchased car then disqualify it and allow it to race in the open race only. Boy, this will be tough to prove and tough to see the disapointed face of the cub!

3) talk to the father about what you know and allow him a chance to withdraw on his own. or

4) Allow him to race it and prove him wrong ... purchased car doesn't guarrantee a win!


In our Pack, we chose 4. We have allowed one or two "Pinecar" bodies to compete before. They have never done well. We simply don't have a heart to disqualify the scout at the check in (not unless it's something really obvious). We even made up a category for these types of cars when we judge them ... the Best MichaelLobby Car category! (from Michaels' Hobby Shop and Hobby Lobby where one can purchase the kit)


Good luck,




ps: sorry about the rambling ... this has been a thorn on my side this year as well ...(This message has been edited by OneHour)

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If I recall correctly from my Cub Scout and Den Chief days, the only real rule about car construction was that they had to use the original axles that came with the kit, the body doesn't have to be original to the kit. So in theory under that guide I guess you could say that it's legal as long as it has the same wheels and nails that everyone else is using.


Personally, I don't see what the point is in selling them. I've got three or four of the five that I made sitting in my room as I type. Lot of memories of working with my dad and grandfather on them. To each their own I guess, though...

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I like the idea of the Scout Spirit trophy. I'll definitely suggest that to our Pinewood Derby Committee.


One year we gave out small trophies to ALL non-placing participants, so everyone (not just the 1st-4th place winners) went home with a trophy. The small trophies came with a card that said something like: "fastest LOOKING car", "most colorful car", etc. It took a bit of time to figure out enough different categories and to decide who would get which card, but the boys loved it.


The following year we again gave out the small trophies to the non-placers, but we didn't have cards with them. The Tigers were thrilled, but all the returning scouts were not so thrilled with another small trophy. I'm not sure what we'll do this year. If we go with the small trophies again, then I hope they get the cards, too.

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Thanks for all of the feedback.


I love the Scout Spirit Award even if I disagree with making it the "largest trophy". We have a couple boys that are really pouring themselves into the workshops & deserve special recognition for it.


A derby is still a race & I wouldn't want to down play the significance of that for the boy that wins the race.


Our last "Official Hands on Car Workshop" was today. Like the others it was a great time with plenty of learning & building. We even had 2 siblings get in on the affair. Because not every car is complete & to avoid any let downs, I'm having the last couple stragglers finish up here in our own home workshop next weekend.


As expected the eBay buyer did not attend. So to avoid a race day conflict I'll be making that call.

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Kaji, the rules we used did specify that it must be the original block of wood that you get with the BSA kit. We too had people who took various "short cuts" and I never could really understand what they thought they were gaining, especially since (as OneHour notes) they frequently did not win even with the cheating.


As to how to deal with them: well if the boy has acknowledged that he bought the car, I think you can't just let it slide. After all, that boy and all the ones who heard him, will know that he is breaking the rules. And if he happens to win, you may have an even worse situation on your hands (trust me, I've been there with parents who believed their kid lost to an in-eligible car and it can be ugly).


Here are three things you can do:


1. disqualify the car but let him race anyway for the fun of it - which is what the race is supposed to be, right? We did this one year. The boy really didn't care about winning, he just wanted to race. We made an announcement that the car in question wouldn't be scored because it was not in conformity with the rules, but we didn't broadcast exactly why that was the case. As long as you let the family in question know in advance, you can avoid a scene at derby day.


2. disqualify the car from the cub race entirely but hold an "open class" race where anything goes and encourage him to race his car there. Make sure some other folks build cars for him to race against, or invite cubs to race cars in the open division that they built in previous years.


3. Offer to help dad & boy build a last minute replacement for the ebay car.


And 4...


Next year hold a raingutter regata or space derby instead. Yes, people can cheat on those too but it is a little harder because they're not as widely held. (Yes I know this can be a drastic solution but if the derby mania has gotten that out of hand...maybe it is time for a big change)


Good luck and here's hoping it all works out ok.



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At 2 of our past Pinewood Derbies, we had one car that failed to meet specifications at check-in. In both cases, the families did not intend to cheat, but had mis-read the rules. Also, in both cases, the other boys were asked to vote as to whether the car should be allowed in competition. The boys were told that if they voted "yes", then they had to accept it if that car happened to win. In both cases, most of the scouts voted to let the scout race. I was so proud of them for not condemning their friends for an innocent mistake. Luckily, neither car won a trophy, but if they had, it would have been awarded to them.


These examples were innocent mistakes, however I wouldn't like to see a car raced that was blatantly against the rules. I would agree with Lisabob's ideas in that case.


One year my older son got sick on the day of Pinewood Derby. His little brother was racing a car in the Family race, so he and I attended anyway. I went ahead and brought my (then) Wolf scout's car, and asked if it could still be raced. I was prepared to be told, "no", but was pleased that it was allowed. The race coordinators didn't want my 4 year old son to race his brother's car in the scout race, so I recruited the older sister of one of my Wolf scouts. I assured her that she would probably only have to race a couple of heats, but then the car kept winning! It was funny to see a girl amongst the boys, but it had been announced that she was standing in for a sick boy. Luckily, my son's car did not win a trophy, because it would have looked funny to have a scout-less car be a winner, but I did get to tell him how his car did.

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Oh, I wanted to add this.


One year (when I had nothing to do with organizing things!) we had a major blow out at our pack's pinewood derby. As always, there were a bunch of issues that had been simmering that just happened to come together on that day, but the thing that touched it all off was that some parents felt the race wasn't "fair" to their boys (and in fact, they were probably right, but that's a whole other story), and they made a huge scene, in front of the boys. It was terrible.


We made a lot of changes after that, but the one that was most visible was that we made sure the biggest trophy in following years was not for the fastest car, but rather, for "Scout Spirit." And we made a big deal about that with the boys.


Wow. The atmosphere changed a lot. The boys began to cheer each other on and support each other. Some of it was, no doubt, still self-interested (wanting to win that spirit trophy). But some of it seemed to spill over into genuine camaraderie too and it was fabulous. Incidentally the photo of the beaming Tiger scout holding a trophy almost as big as he was - for SPIRIT, not for winning - also made the front page of the local paper the next day.


You could extend the meaning of an award like this to include time spent building the cars together at your pack's workshop days, etc.. At any rate a boy whose parent bought the car certainly wouldn't win this award. Something that parent might consider in the future, if the trophy is what they're after.



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