all day today
Renton Boy Scout Ashton Blaylock entered cars in “probably five” Pinewood Derbys when he was a Cub Scout. So it means something when the sixth-grader at Nelsen Middle School says today’s (Saturday’s) race at Benson Hill Elementary will be the best.
“I think this Pinewood Derby will be the best Pinewood Derby yet,” Blaylock says. “Normally there’s not a whole bunch of packs coming. This is going to be the best.”
Cub Scouts Pack 467 is hosting today’s race, called “Pinewood Derby Race Off 2008.” The Renton Cub Scouts pack expects 200 to 300 people at the race off of small, wood-carved cars. Fourteen Cub Scouts packs in the Green River District will compete in the race. Mayor Denis Law is expected to kick-off the day’s racing, which begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m.
Boy Scout troops 467 and 449, both of Renton, will also attend. These older boys will help the younger racers and also demonstrate scout skills, like how to build a fire or pitch a tent.
Every Cub Scouts pack holds a Pinewood Derby, says Wendy Bluhm, Pack 467 committee chair and treasurer. Pack 467 has held a Pinewood Derby since its inception 28 years ago. The first Pinewood Derby was held by a California Cub Scouts pack in 1953. But today’s event is the first district-wide derby.
“We’re trying to get the whole Green River District together to bring back the Pinewood Derby,” Bluhm says.
Space and money constraints prevented Pack 467 from inviting all of the 20-some packs in the Green River District, which is made up of packs and troops in Renton, Kent and Newcastle. But Bluhm is hoping the district will take over the event next year, allowing more packs to attend.
So does Bluhm’s husband and Pack 467 Cub master, Chris Bluhm. He still has his Pinewood Derby car from when he was a Cub Scout. The car, painted like an American flag, is displayed in a shadowbox at home
“The Pinewood Derby (represents) the core values of scouting,” he says. “Competition, friendly competition.”
Today’s fastest car will certainly be noticed. But ribbons will also be awarded in other categories: scouting’s theme, judge’s choice, craftsmanship and unique. Each participating pack will also receive a ribbon.
The double-elimination tournament takes place on wooden tracks 32-feet long, that start about four-feet off the ground and then angle downhill. It takes about eight to 10 seconds for a car to run the track.
All Pinewood Derby participants started with the same kit: a seven-inch long block of wood, four wheels and four nails. They had a month to build their cars, which were not allowed to top five ounces.
Justin Yackel, 7, expects to win today’s race. The second-grader at Benson Hill Elementary and his dad John built No. 17 — a blue car with red, orange and yellow flames.
Yackel won Pack 467’s Pinewood Derby on April 19. He expects to win today, he says, “because of some of the things my dad put in there. It’s really fast.”
“The things” are fishing weights in the tail of the car and small squares of weights underneath.
Nathan Hutchins, 9, also hopes to win today. Hutchins is a third-grader at Tiffany Park Elementary. His car is shiny gold. It will be both he and Yackel’s second Pinewood Derby. Hutchins weighed his car at a pack meeting earlier this week. The scale flashed five ounces exactly.
“Haha!” Hutchins cried.
Boy Scout Ashton Blaylock can tell just by looking at Pack 467’s entries that today’s competition will be tough. Entrants include a black and white police car, a black car with sparkly blue flames, a yellow car with red flames and a car painted like the American flag, like Chris Bluhm’s derby car.
Blaylock is tagging the American-flag car as the likely winner — based solely on looks.
“It looks awesome, and it’s part of the U.S.A.,” he says.
But no matter the winners, today’s Pinewood Derby will be fun, Blaylock says.
“I think it is pretty much a fun sport,” he says. “And if we could get more kids into Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, it would be more fun. It would be big, ginormous groups of kids having fun.”
Emily Garland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 255-3484, ext. 5052.
“Pinewood Derby Race Off 2008” is at Benson Hill Elementary today (Saturday) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Anyone can attend to watch the races and to learn more about scouting. Benson Hill Elementary is at 18665 116th Ave. S.E. in Renton.