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Pinewood Derby Registration

Before leaving the house for the race day, I made sure the car was in proper working order — wheels turned, weights were secure, and total weight was 5.0 ounces. I took my drill with us, just in case I needed it. (I considered that the scale I was using might not be perfectly in sync with the official scale at the derby, so I wanted to be prepared — the Boy Scout motto.)

The hall for the races was packed with scouts and parents. There were probably around a hundred people there. The sounds of small power tools was a continuous background noise, behind the cacophony of voices.

We got in line for our class registration (Wolf and Bear Cut Scouts — 8 and 9 year olds). Once up at the table, our car was weighed: 5.05 ounces. The official scale measured to the one hundredth of an ounce — ours at home only went to one tenth.

OK, no problem, I have my drill. But how much is five one hundredths of an ounce? How much do I need to drill out? The official weighing the car said, “Oh, very, very little. Just a tiny amount.”

We took the car off to the side, where other dads were making adjustments to their sons’ cars. I pulled out my drill, put in a bit, and then thought, Wait, “Just a tiny amount.” Instead of drilling a hole, I took another drill bit and just scraped the bottom of the car a little — just some removed some shavings, really.

We got back in the line again and made our way back to the registration table. The official weighed our car again: still 5.05 ounces. OK, we went back to the work corner of the hall.

I chatted with some of the other dads and a couple of Scout Masters about it, “I don’t mind at all taking off the extra weight to get it fair, but I have no idea how much .05 ounces is.” I was told just a couple of holes should take care of it. I drilled three holes.

We got back in line and again made our way to the registration table. Weight: 5.04 ounces. “Jeez!” Then I had a thought, “Take the helmet off the driver and see how much that weighs.” Weight: 5.01 ounces. “Oh man!” I reached for the car, but the official said they could allow that weight.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “I can work on it again to make it exact.”

The official said .01 was allowed. I asked Calfgrit8 if he minded racing his car without the driver’s helmet. To be honest, I didn’t want to work on it again — we’d already been there 20 minutes and hadn’t even gotten registered in yet. I was getting flustered in all the back and forth, and with all the noisy crowd around me.

But I didn’t want my little guy to be disappointed in his car — he specifically put that Lego mini together for this car. (The figure has the legs and body of a spaceman, the face of a knight, and the helmet of a stormtrooper.) CG8 said he was fine with the driver not having his helmet. He took the helmet and kept it in his hand for a while. Actually, I think he just wanted to hold at least part of the toy.

After passing the weigh in, a Boy Scout assistant official measured the width and length of the car, and then it was registered with a number written on the bottom. It was placed on a table with the others so far registered.

The picture to the right shows about half the cars in our class. There were some pretty cool designs; some looked like they’d be rockets on the track, and some looked like they’d be bricks.

Some were simple wedges, some were pretty elaborate. There were plenty of race car designs, of course, but there was also a shoe, a tank, a van, and even a Wii remote control design. Some looked like they were built by 2nd graders, some looked like they were built by college educated engineers.

Beyond the basic speed prize (1st, 2nd, and 3rd places) there were judges’ picks on design — most futuristic, most patriotic, most unique, etc. Calfgrit8 was disappointed to not win any design award (I didn’t expect to, and I didn’t even know that he was hoping for a prize.)

The coolest thing, though, about the prizes was which car won 1st place in the race. To be continued. . .


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