February 1, 2011

The Pinewood Derby


Some would say that the reason why you become a boy scout is to participate in the famed Pinewood Derby.

For others, the annual event is a disincentive for joining.

Last week, each of my boys brought home a small rectagular box from their pack meeting, which I immediately put on top of the refrigerator for safe keeping.

I remembered the boxes at 8pm the night before the race.

"The boys have to decorate these before we go tomorrow," I said, tossing the boxes on the kitchen counter.

The minute my husband saw those boxes he broke into a cold sweat. "You don't understand," he replied.

I rolled my eyes and told him to stop being dramatic. I was prepared and empowered. Earlier that I day, I had purchased a dollar store glue gun and an industrial-sized tub of glitter. My kids could decorate anything in less than two minutes if they had to.

When my boys opened the boxes, I saw right away that both sets were defective. Specifically, there wasn't a car inside either box, but, instead, a solid block of wood.

"What is this?" I said in disbelief as I held up the piece of wood.

That's when my husband told me that my problem had to do with sequencing. You can decorate your pinewood derby car. But first you have to carve it.

I sucked in my breath sharply at his hideous and unexpected news.

"It's going to be a long night," he sighed.

I reminded him that the boys would and could help him. Then I remembered that neither of them can be trusted with a plastic knife, much less a power saw.

In the end, my husband stayed up until 3 in the morning fixing the blade on his saw so he could make one vertical cut on each block of wood.

"It wasn't that bad," I reflected out loud after the event. Despite the delays in construction, both of the boys came home from the race wearing huge smiles and plastic medals around their necks.

My husband shuddered and put a blanket over his head. "I don't want to talk about it right now," he said.

Maybe I'll buy him a boy scout uniform for his birthday.

43 comments

Mal said...

Oh the shame!!

Watashi no Uchi said...

Just so you know, I wouldn't have known that they had to be carved either! Glad to know now! Thanks!

Marcie said...

I must admit, the pine wood derby (and all other scouting affairs) made me grateful that I only had one boy!

Colleen said...

as a fellow mom of twin boys who are in scouting, they are now in BS... i had to assist in the making of cars once while my husband was deployed. you can have a lot of fun w/ it if you let the kids imaginations run wild and embrace the moment. sometimes we've won other times we've lost but i love the fact that MY KIDS made the cars and they looked like they did...


wait until they have their first science fair, you'll be wishing it was just a pinewood derby!

Colleen said...

as a fellow mom of twin boys who are in scouting, they are now in BS... i had to assist in the making of cars once while my husband was deployed. you can have a lot of fun w/ it if you let the kids imaginations run wild and embrace the moment. sometimes we've won other times we've lost but i love the fact that MY KIDS made the cars and they looked like they did...


wait until they have their first science fair, you'll be wishing it was just a pinewood derby!

Kelli said...

I have only been to one pinewood derby in my life. It was awful. I was called names. I came home in tears. I was the Cub Master. It was the single worst day in my entire life. Unfortunately, my son is only 5 and I'm sure I have more Pinewood Derbies in my future.

Shay Williams said...

Oh boy. That was always a HUGE deal to my brothers. My youngest brother would work on his for two weeks straight with his dad. BOTH perfectionists..

Cathryn said...

"my husband stayed up until 3 in the morning fixing the blade on his saw so he could make one vertical cut on each block of wood."

This describes our experience to a 'T'

Our car also sported LED headlights and taillights one year!

My oldest just earned his EAGLE last night!

GO SCOUTS!

Denver's Dining Diva said...

Although I don't have kids I Love, Love, Love your Blog! Your posts always make me smile - usually because it's something I would have done, said or shuddered at! Thanks for sharing your stories!

Emily Heizer Photography said...

You know... you two could really have fun with that boy scout uniform.

...(WINK!)

Mia said...

We had no medal! So jealous.

Snuggle Wasteland said...

I was shocked the first year of scouts, too. I thought the same thing. This year we're skipping it. Life is too short and my husband is too lazy.

myevil3yearold said...

Our den's derby is not until April here but I learned last year about the cutting of the block of wood. Then, I found out it had to weigh between something and something. So, I kept taking the cars into reandom grocery stores to weigh them in the produce scales.

Linney said...

Lol, yeah, the Pinewood Derby cars are a HUGE deal in my house....My husband drills holes in them and puts the b.b's from shotguns shells in them. I can't wait for our youngest to be able to do it too!

CountessLaurie said...

The pinewood derby makes me glad I have girls.

livieandhermommies said...

MAYBE INSTEAD OF BUYING HIM A UNIFORM FOR HIS BIRTHDAY - YOU SHOULD GET YOURSELF ONE AND PLAY SCOUTMASTER???

Niki said...

I recently became a den leader and bought a uniform. Just the shirt. And patches. I spent $50. I consider that, along with my time every week, a serious donation. My boy is 14 months old. Can't wait to see what I spend when he's actually in scouts.

Anonymous said...

I am a Den leader but thank God that my husband handles both the Raingutter Regatta boat and the Pineood derby car. Our pack provides a workshop where everyone can bring their cars and a dad brings his band saw and people bring power sanders to get the cars started. The boys draw their design for the cut and do he sanding themselves. Then all the have do at home is paint/decorate them. I don't know how people who are not handy would do this otherwise.

BensonFam said...

Oh the infamous Pinewood Derby... Just watching my own Cub Scouts (and their hypercompetitive fathers) puts me into a cold sweat thinking about my son one day being involved. Glad you all survived! And yay for your awesome hubby coming to the rescue!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

The worst part of the pine wood derby was when you unveiled your "car" and saw all the sporty roadsters your friends and enemies had created (or their dad's had done). I never made Eagle, but I camp more than my friends who did and I can start a campfire with one match anyday. I also wrote a comprehensive zombie plan that is sure to save lives.
Funny Stuff I Write

Lindsay said...

This is our third year now and first year having to do 2. Believe it or not we took 1st and 2nd. We called it a family sweep. We have it down to an art form. Better luck and more sleep to your husband next year. :)

Charlene said...

Why didn't you just slap the wheels on the block, paint it yellow and call it a schoolbus? :) Especially if you added glitter - you could have a psychedelic thing going on and get some really good rumors going...

We got our cars in mid-december, but hubby didn't help son cut his car out until the Saturday before the derby. I'm sure this is a common occurance.

He still took first place - I think it was the weight distribution of the screws taped to the car with electrician's tape! (See my blog for pics)

We had some real daddy envy going on, especially the daddies that spent lots and lots of time "helping" (doing it for) their sons.

meghannamarie said...

My husband hates the stress of pinewood derby season!

Anonymous said...

I am laughing so hard!!

Rene said...

I HATE the pinewood derby. It was our first one and my kid came in third but it's just a traumatic exerience that I can do without.

Mrs. Tuna said...

You know what they say about Eagle Scouts......

Paula/adhocmom said...

Wow, I have to admit I would have been tempted to sign my boys up for the girl scouts instead. I mean, hello! Cookies! I would much rather be up until 3 am eating cookies than carving a car out of a solid block of wood.

Janet said...

hahahaha, snort, poor man......

Donna said...

Ahhhh, Pine Wood Derby. I remember showing up to a few where the boys weren't allowed to touch the beautiful cars their dad's had made. Not so at our house. Needless to say our kids have never won the Derby. they usually won "Most Interesting Design" or "Most Original." It's like telling the car it has a beautiful personality.

vanilla said...

You are too precious.

jgrimsleys said...

Hobby Lobby. I bought the kit. The block of wood is already cut. Paint, tires, spoiler and stickers are already on said block of wood.
Takes the fun out of cutting, but hey, my son sure doesn't care.

jgrimsleys said...

Might I add that we painted and put the stickers on the car...it didn't come that way.

Have fun with that uniform!

Mimi said...

Haha! This really makes me giggle - the derbys my 2 sons were in - it was obvious that the Dads were the real designers! One of my boys did get an award for something... I might just dust that baby off!! Girl Scouts have the right idea Cookies!

Diane said...

You better watch out as a mother of 3 boys it might be your destiny. I have been a den mother for about six years and I love it most of the time. The other day I was thinking about what I would rather do in the church and decided that doing Cub Scouts is way better than many other callings.

Jackie Blue said...

My son hated the pinewood derby it was inevitable that no matter how much time you spent on your derby car ...there was some Dad out there with his engineering degree...who just "gave a little help" building a car that not only looked like it belonged on the Nascar track...but performed like it.....Wait until you get to the cake decorating challenge...you will see cakes that put the cake boss to shame!

Lori said...

My brother and dad spent entirely too much time on those stupid cars. If your boys have Pinewood derby next year, they do sell them at Michaels pre-cut.

Stefany said...

As a mother of six boys, four of whom are scouts and two more who will be scouts, I feel for you. We tried to get our pack to abolish the pinewood derby this year in favor of the raingutter regatta. We were shut down. My husband has already made nine pinewood derby cars and it looks like he has nine more to go.

Eileen said...

There is a funny movie about the Pinewood Derby called "Down and Derby". You should see if you can find it. Good times with scouting!

cassie said...

did you know that they now sell kits with the blocks of wood already cut out into the shape it needs? check out your local craft store. it's great. just alittle bit of snading, some paint and you are good to go!

Dave & Gina said...

The pinewood derby is an evil creation.

That is all.

Melinda said...

My son never did scouts and I was relieved all because of this project. I feel for him. I didn't know they had to be carved either. Science fair projects are bad enough. Hysterical!

Jenny said...

I laughed and laughed. This was the best and most funny post!

Audrey Hammer said...

At a scout leader training seminar, one instructor told us how the parents in his pack got too involved in pinewood derby (dads took over the car making, fist fights, etc.). So one year, he gave each kid his car (worked on by each dad in reality) and said, "This year it's a demolition derby! Go!" Thirty seconds later, all the cars were destroyed. Boys were thrilled. Parents were mortified.