COPPERAS COVE – Wooden cars with plastic wheels raced down a track, racing to the finish line, propelled solely by the gravitational forces found in nature. It was the annual Pinewood Derby for the Copperas Cove 251 Cub Scout Pack at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8577.
The cars have been painted and decorated differently as each block of wood is a blank canvas for the Cubs to give them their own personality.
For Arrow Scout Leon Hernandez, his car was painted to look like the car of Lewis Hamilton, a British race car driver in the international Formula 1 series.
“Well, he wins a lot and my grandpa loves him too,” Hernandez said of why he painted his car to look like Hamilton’s.
His grandfather helped him build the car, and Hernandez painted it.
“It wasn’t that fast,” said the 11-year-old fifth grader. “It was just a little slow.”
Although he didn’t finish in the top three in his den, Hernandez said he had a great time.
Webelo Lillie Mazock painted hers like a galaxy with blue, purple and white.
That’s not all she did, however.
“(I learned) sandpaper, like you don’t want to go too hard…and cutting,” said Mazock, who got help from his dad.
At each step of their Cub Scouting journey, Cubs discover different tools that can help them when building their Pinewood Derby cars, explained Pack 251 Cub Master John Larson.
“Most of the accomplishments for different ages include an element of tool familiarization,” Larson said. “So the Bear ranking, for example. The Bear Den, they have something called Baloo the Builder where they learn how to use saws and hand drills and things like that.
BALOO stands for Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation.
Larson said older kids usually have the most polished cars because they’ve had more practice.
The Pinewood Derby is the oldest event the Cub Scout Pack competes in, but one of the other similar events, such as the Rocket Derby and Raingutter Regatta.
The Pinewood Derby was introduced in 1953 by Don Murphy, Cub Master of Pack 280C in Manhattan Beach, California.
In October 1954, Boys’ Life Magazine published diagrams of a Pinewood Derby car, which, according to Bryan Wendell, blogger for a website called Bryan On Scouting, was the first reference of the Pinewood Derby in a Boy Scouts of America publication. .