Friday, July 11, 2014

Fun, competition keep on rolling

Pinewood Derby a Scout tradition

January 19. 2014 11:50PM
CAMILLE FIOTI Times Leader Correspondent

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CONYNGHAM — They all began as humble little blocks of wood, but with hard work and creativity, the race cars competing in Cub Scout Pack 207’s Pinewood Derby were as unique as the 55 Cub Scouts who made them.

In the packed basement of the Christ United Church of Christ, the scouts leaned over the 40-foot sloped track, cheering as the cars sped past.

Coming in at 2.82 seconds, the car of 11-year-old Josh Wufsus of Drums won first place.

“I’m happy and I’m proud,” said Josh, who built his red, hour-glass shaped car with his dad, Alan, who is also his Webelo den leader.

Josh will go on to compete in the District Race at the Laurel Mall next month.

The first pinewood derby was organized in 1953 in Manhattan Beach, Calif. When Cubmaster Don Murphy’s son was too young to participate in Soap Box Derby races, he came up with the idea of racing much smaller cars.

Little has changed since the original concept of creating the cars out of a block of wood with the help of a parent or other adult. Strict rules must be followed in order to qualify.

The cars can’t be more than 5 ounces in weight and all four tires must touch the ground, said Cubmaster Ron Andrae of Hazleton.

“If a wheel is lifted, the car goes faster,” he said.

Although the basics are contained in a kit, which holds a block of pine, plastic wheels and metal axles, other features such as weights, paint and decals are purchased separately.

Bob Tunnessen of Hazleton sponsored this year’s derby, donating 91 kits to the pack.

With the help of his dad, Vince, 8-year-old Jacob Kozlek of Sugarloaf built a miniature replica of Back to the Future’s “Delorean Time Machine.”

Vince, 34, fondly recalled how he and his dad worked together building Pinewood Derby cars when he was a cub scout.

One thing Vince said he’s learned since he was a scout is that it’s a lot easier to carve out a race car if you have a band saw.

“Before Jacob was even a scout, I knew I had to get my hands on a band saw to get ready,” he said.

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