Pinewood Derby helps keep Scouts on track

VIENNA – Hundreds of Cub Scouts from around the Mid-Ohio Valley went head-to-head Saturday during the 41st annual Davis Anderson Memorial Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Allohak Council Championships at the Grand Central Mall in Vienna.

The all-day derby began at 10 a.m. with almost 500 boys racing homemade cars on five tracks throughout the mall.

“There are 456 kids pre-registered, which is a record for us in recent years,” said derby chairperson Kathy Anderson Wise. “There were about 420 boys last year and only 300 the year before, so this is great.”

The Mayors and Area Dignitaries/Celebrities Race was held at noon in the Center Court. Officers with the Vienna Police Department also gave “speeding tickets” to some of the racers.

“The Scouts come for the fun of it all and it’s interesting to see how they grow over the years as they go from telling the adults what they want to actually doing it themselves,” said Dale Musgrave, Scout executive with the Boy Scouts of America Allohak Council. “Through the pinewood derby they mature and learn a lot of skills they can use in other areas of life.”

Pinewood Derby racing requires participants to learn the crafts necessary to make the cars, the derby rules that must be followed in the car making, the racing process and, most important, sportsmanship. This has to do with how the Scout acts and behaves while participating in the derby.

The model cars are made of wood to specified dimensions, created, carved, assembled, and decorated by Cub Scouts under the guidance of their parents or helpers. All Scouts are required to build a new car each year. On race day, the cars were weighed, measured and inspected to confirm that the race rules have been followed.

“We have specified dimensions and weight requirements that help the boys’ math skills,” Wise said. “The idea is to help them learn new skills and win or lose good sportsmanship.

“Boys will come away from here with a sense of satisfaction that ‘I may not have won, but I had a good time participating,'” Wise said. “Our main goal is for everybody to have fun.”

Wise said it is fun to watch the boys grow up in the derby. Cubs at age 6 can race.

“The first year Tigers have such tiny hands they can barely hold on to the cars and to see them grow up and become more comfortable with the races is fun,” she said.

The races are not just about winning, but also how to be a good winner and loser and more importantly, about having fun, said Wise. The purpose of the Pinewood Derby is to help the Cub Scout build a team relationship with their parent or helper, experience the sense of accomplishment, learn new skills, the excitement of competition, learn win or lose good sportsmanship, and to have fun.

“The purpose is to work with an adult on the car,” Musgrave said. “In the end, the boy has learned a lot of skills and maybe have a different perspective on that parent or helper.”

Stacey Cunningham of Waverly watched her son Trey Cunningham, 8, with Cub Scouts Pack 12 race in his first pinewood derby.

“This is our first year and I had no idea what all went into it,” Stacey Cunningham said. “Some of these derby cars are nicer than cars on the road with their paint jobs and things, we already have a lot of great ideas for next year.”

While the first local Pinewood Derby was held in 1972, the Pinewood Derby has been an annual event at the Grand Central Mall since 1974. Wise credits the mall, its merchants and other businesses throughout the area for their cooperation and support as several hundred Scouts and their family members spend the day at the facilities.

The Allohak Council serves 17 counties in West Virginia and Ohio. The Allohak Council earned the prestigious National Centennial Quality Council Award for the National Council, Boy Scouts of America for membership growth, quality programs and fiscal soundness, a distinction that the Allohak Council has earned for the three consecutive years.

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