Scouts compete for first at annual Pinewood Derby Race

Drivers, start your engines!

Cars are stopped at the top of the starting line ready to be realesed to see whose car is fastest. The competition was held at the Memorial Hall in New England. [RACHEL BOCK]
Cars are stopped at the top of the starting line ready to be realesed to see whose car is fastest. The competition was held at the Memorial Hall in New England.
By RACHEL BOCK | For The Herald

Drivers, start your engines!

The annual Boy Scout Pinewood Derby was held at the Memorial Hall on Friday night April 10.  The derby is an event that the scouts wait all year for.  The cheers, excitement, and laughter could be heard throughout the entire hall and even outside! The Boy Scout’s parents, grandparents, siblings and friends attended the event, which went from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm.

The cars start out as a block of wood that can only be seven inches long and weigh only five ounces.  The boys are able to design the look of their cars, from cutting their designs out of the block of wood, and painting to putting on the wheels. They can add extra weight to the bottom of the car if needed, and accessories are also allowed for some style.  The accessories ranged from stickers, all the way to smoke stacks on a semi. This year there was a  range of race cars including the General Lee from the Duke’s of Hazard, a Kenworth Semi, and a couple of pickup trucks.

What is special about the New England Pinewood Derby is that the scouts are not the only ones allowed to race; they also invite parents, siblings, and even the judges to submit a car and race in the open class.

The scout cars are also placed into the open class race, and a scout can bring a previous year’s car to race.

This year there was sixteen scout cars for the official race.

Fifteen additional cars were submitted into the open class race, giving the open class a total of thirty one cars, which is one of the biggest turnouts in years.

Official car weigh-in started at 5:00 p.m., with the race starting at 6:30 p.m. During this time the racer has time to make final adjustments to their car.

Once the car is turned into the judges, no adjustments can be made. After all the cars were submitted, three judges (Joe Bohlman, West Neville, and Brad Rustan), judged the appearance and craftsmanship of the cars in both classes.

The judges have determine winners in three different categories, overall appearance, craftsmanship by scout and overall craftsmanship, which includes both the scout and open class division.

During the judging, a potluck meal was served for everyone in attendance.

A new computerized track was purchased three years ago with money raised during the Boy Scout popcorn sales. The new track has three lanes, and also an automatic timer. Before the race the name of each racer, along with the car number, is entered into the computer.  The computer then generates which car is up to race, what lane they will race in and who they will race against.  Every car races in each of the three lanes, while going up against each car in the race. The cars are placed on the track by the starter Allen Schmidt. Schmidt had the starter job for many years.

After each round the times are sent from the automatic timer back into the computer to determine a winner. Some of the times were as close as 10,000th of a second.

The cars with the best time overall after each round is determined the winner.

The winners for the 2015 Pinewood Derby:

First place, Jared Barnes, second place McKoy Stecher, and third place Adam Kathrein. The most cautious driver, (which is the car with the slowest times) was Eli Hoerath.  The scout with the best overall appearance was Brock Ehlis, with his Kenworth Semi.  The winner of the Craftsmanship by Scout award was Bradley Krebs with his replica of the General Lee.

The Open Class winners:

First place John Kathrein, there was a tie for second and third place, brothers Jess and Joel Schulz.  Fourth place was Brad Rustan racing for the New England Fire Department.  Rustan raced with just the original block of wood and wheels.  The most cautious driver overall was Brianna Hoerath.  The winner for Craftsmanship overall is New England High School’s shop teacher Ben Krebs with his replica of his 1963 GMC truck.

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