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Unfair Pinewood Derby Race

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First off , welcome to the forums and thanks for wanting to be involved with your den and pack.


This might be one of those"lesson learned" experiences. Now how do you go about implementing change for the better.


You've already started that process by getting onto the PWD committee, you have a voice in how things can be changed for the better of all the boys involved.


Ask the other parents what they thought about the derby, not just the ones running it. Feedback is a great tool. If the other parents had concerns about the finishing device,or any other part of the race, that can be addressed with the PWD committee.


Clear and concise rules need to be in place for next year's race. You've seen all sorts of rules and formats on the internet and theses forums as well. Start getting stuff together to present to the committee.And then vote on it.


PWD is always evolving from year to year. It's taken our pack a few years to come up with a fair and balanced means of racing. But, we took our lumps as well to get to this point. We're still not satisfied with the end product, and are always looking ways to improve it.


PWD can and sometimes remains in the hands of the "GOB" network. You know the type, "Well, we've always done it this way, why should we change?" You said this was your first year with the pack, Is your son a tiger, wolf? Are the adults that are running the derby parents of older scouts? If they are, they'll be most likely moving on when their son graduates from the pack. If you have 3-4 yrs left in Cub Scouts (unless there are younger siblings in the pipeline for you), you'll be heading that committee (or being Cubmaster if you choose :) ) in no time.


At the end of the day, your son won't give a flip about winning or losing because of technicalities or a faulty track. He'll remember the fun time he had with his buddies and the time spent with you working on his car.


Remember, Keep it simple, make it fun.


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Yah, what OwntheNight said, eh?


There is no "up the chain" here. A pinewood derby, like most good activities for kids this age, is like a pick-up game, not some hyper-competitive league with paid officials. Neither the Chartered Org. nor the BSA is goin' to want to hear about it.


I honestly only want as fair of an environment as possible and let the best car win.


Then yeh might have the wrong goals for Cub Scouting, eh? What we want for Cub Scouting is to have the most fun, friendly, learning environment for boys and for all of the adults. Winning means achieving that, eh? Just like a pick-up game. Nobody actually cares who wins. Nobody cares that the weaker batter got 5 swings instead of 3. Yeh play for fun and fellowship.




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Allow me to ramble a bit here.


I didn't sign up my oldest son to Tiger Cubs - back then it was more of a Pack auxiliary group and waited until he was in 2nd grade for Wolf. First Pinewood derby I asked him to make a decision - do you want to go for speed or looks? I told him they awarded trophies for each. Well, he wanted a cool looking car. So, I gave him some ideas and we decided to build a tank - complete with turret and gun. (My employer's primary product at the time). All went well until the day of the race when I found out that our Pack, unlike the Pack in my youth, did not award anything based on looks. Well dad looked pretty stupid that year.


Fast forward to the next year. Number two son is a Tiger, #1 a Bear. I did some research and helped them optimize for speed. Tiger won first in his den, #1 son came in second in his den. Tiger son, who raced first, proceeded to break his car playing with it so was not involved in overall Pack championship. Son didn't care, dad (me) cared too much. Found out son #1's den leader was the keeper of the track, was an automotive engineer and essentially got to have trials in his basement. An unfair advantage, well he did volunteer and I was grateful.


Next year, #2 son wanted to win again and thought it would be easy so did not put much effort in. #1 son, wanted to win and put in a lot of effort. #2 son got beat soundly, #1 son barely lost again to his nemesis. Lessons learned by each.


Next year, #2 put in effort, won again. #1 son worked his butt off and voil, finally won! My lesson, I asked that an "open" division be set up (i.e. give a chance for dads to race cars they built so they would not be overbearing to their son's effort) and I smoked "track keeper dad!"


I noticed that in this day and age where "we are all winners" and even in sports, score is not kept, etc. that when Tiger and Wolf Scouts see that only one car is the fastest and yes, one car is the slowest that they learn a tough life lesson. Yes, even some dads ignored the rules and instructions about weight, wheelbase width and some cars got disqualified or didn't even fit on the track. Life lessons abound!


Try to turn your experience into a positive, which it sounds like you are. When your son is deciding on an Eagle project, you'll get feelings of Dj Vu!

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As I have said before on this topic if you want to run a much more fun and easy going PWD let the kids do it all and keep all adults at least 100 yards away from the track. At all the PWD's I have attended over the years it has ALWAYS been an adult leader or parent who has started the mess and it just escalated from there. All the boys want to do is race their car and could care less about a trophy, keep the prizes small and reasonable, but when packs go out and buy big expensive trophies thats what mom and dad focus their sights on, so beware, lol.

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Get involved with the pack Committee.

Find out who the Event Chair Person is and the Pinewood Derby Chairman. Offer your help and express your concerns with them VOLUNTEER to help correct the issues.


The pack is run by volunteers and it is (should be) a continuous EVELUCTION. Every year the Pack should get New Blood So thing dont get old.

Doing the same thing the same way year after year, Most Volunteers move on to the Boy Scout Troop after there Cub Scout tour if the Committee has not gotten New Blood TRAINED before an old timer moves on they have done the pack a disservices


The Pinewood Derby should be one of the biggest & best yearly events the pack has

The Pack should pass the torch on the event & equipment on a regale bases.

But Unfortunately it is over looked in till it is time to put the event on then its a scramble just to pull it off., forgetting all about the extra show & fun that can go along with it.


If the Pack has an old track in bad shape it may be time to think of a Pack fundraiser(s) (car wash, bake sale, pack yard sale) Something fun getting the community involved most people know about the Pinewood Derby And would be willing to give a few dollars.


Once you have a good Pinewood Derby Event Hold it at some Place Fun. Like a mall or the town firehouse, local car show..

There is so much that can be done with this event.

Let us know and well make the first donation to your Pack.








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Many thanks to all that responded. A lot of time and thought went into the responses and I greatly appreciate the experienced advice. I have learned a great deal from this discussion and will use that to make future scouting events fun and a positive learning experience for the boys.


I wrote the initial post immediately after the race and was a bit torqued up about it. I should have let it settle a bit. I struggle with being over-protective of my family and I sometimes have to "check" my response to a situation in order to provide my son with a good sound example for his development. Sometimes the primitive mind takes over and you go into protective mode with no filter and that is not good for the parent nor the child. Luckily, I had a filter on race day and we all came away with a good experience.

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PWD , like the rest of Scouting, can bring out the BEST in folks, and the worst.


Lots of good ideas here.

I will suggest one more: Since the problems seem to be with Pack parents running the event, remove that problem by having someone else run the event. Contact a local BSTroop to run the event. Our local CPack has it's BSTroop run the whole shebang. The Pack owns the equipment (new AL electronic track, record software, milk crate and pillow stopper, race flags, etc. ) The Scouts come in and run everything: weigh in, size cert, announcements, heat starts, running cars, EVERYTHING except the record point keeping, which the SM does 'cause it's his laptop and projector.

This has many good results. The Cubs see Scouts at work, the parents know it ain't so and so causing his son to win (or lose),

the Cubs can enjoy the races (along with the parents) because once the car is checked in, the car is out of their hands. The BScouts get a kick out of doing something "official" and can give vent to their talents and also be a "big brother" to the Cubs for the day. And it is a DAY, the Pack is big one and they make it a picnic with hotdogs and drinks to sell. Almost 5 hours of racing and other stuff. When the Cubs get tired of racing, they take'm out and run'em around with Steal the Bacon and other games.



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rtullier - Since the race has just been done, the place for you to give feedback on it is at the next Pack Leaders/Committee meeting.


As a den leader (hopefully registered and trained) you should be attending these monthly meetings. This is where the planning goes on for Pack events, and there should be a "roses/thorns" discussion about any activities (such as the PWD race) that have happened since the last month's meeting.


Personally, if you are having a lot of cars being damaged, that is where I would start a discussion on how to prevent that so the Scouts are able to race more, and have more fun. Being on next year's race committee help's give you a valid reason to start the discussion.

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"I'd like to see this problem remedied before this Pack is allowed to run another Derby.."


"ALLOWED"?! Please...


As a Cubmaster in my 3rd year with my Pack who has volunteered hours upon hours and hundreds of my own dollars to run the program...I KNOW what I'd tell you. BUT, there are ladies present.



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"I'd like to see this problem remedied before this Pack is allowed to run another Derby.."


"ALLOWED"?! Please...


As a Cubmaster in my 3rd year with my Pack who has volunteered hours upon hours and hundreds of my own dollars to run the program...I KNOW what I'd tell you. BUT, there are ladies present.



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I survived 6 PWD and am glad my boys are past them; I will pron help our feeded pack this year.


Improvements I would make:


(1) Make the rules very, very clear to parents. The position of weights is part of the strategy.

(2) Have a "good sport" award to the boy who cheers others the most. They get a trophy too.


Parents are the worst at PWD. We have had to have a large male hang around the weigh in table because some dads will try to intimidate the lady leaders. Even with software it is hard not to mix up the cars with so many races. We usually do not allow repairs and do not let other adults touch the car after weigh in -- we had some dads try to sabotage others.

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First, I appreciate Jamist649's sensibility to my delicate (female Cubmaster booger-joke-telling bobbing-for-apples-champion fish-hook-baiting) self.


And second, I recognize the "damn-I-was-really-upset-at-the-time" mode. Sometimes we just have to take a step back and cool down, yes.


But AS a Cubmaster who ran her first PWD this past Feb, I pretty much agree with the advice given here. I KNEW what the problems were, but I had to soldier on and do my best and keep up a "Hey, y'know what, guys? That's okay!" attitude.


The guy who was running the pc program HAD NO IDEA what he was doing. There were LOOOOOONG periods of inactivity while he tried to figure things out (he was the PWD chair--lotta good it did us).


I had to make the best of it, and ask the boys what they were gonna eat on their hotdogs, and how many they thought they could eat, and what parts of what animals did they think went into them, etc...


My point (and I occasionally HAVE one), is that if you think it could be better, YOU'RE ON DECK, BABY! My parents (God bless each of their non-committal-but-ever-patient hearts)knew if they whined about something being "not right", GUESS WHO I'D NOMINATE at the next Committee meeting to start planning next year's event?



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