WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange Cub Scout Pack 107 turned the St. Cloud Elementary School Gymnasium into a racetrack Jan. 26 to host the annual Pinewood Derby race, giving the Scouts a chance to show off how fast their handmade wooden cars could roll down a wooden track. Eighteen winners were crowned — three in each of the five divisions of the pack and three overall winners. Design awards were also handed out those who created the cars with the best paint job, best original design and best individual design in each division.
“We handed out the cars right around Thanksgiving,” Troopmaster Mark Wickham said in an interview with the West Orange Chronicle at the event. “The maximum weight has to be about 5 ounces and there’s other depth and size requirements.”
The cars are made out of a block of pine with wheels attached. Beyond that, Scouts have the freedom to make the car into whatever they want. One was modeled to look like a banana, another was painted entirely in blue and gold and some were named after video games.
The cars are rolled three at a time down a sloped track and timed. The cars that crossed the finish line first in the first round advanced to the next round, and so on, until the three fastest cars were left, earning trophies for their creators. The design awards are not necessarily given to the fastest cars, but are reserved for the best-looking wooden vehicles.
“It’s not really so much about racing,” Wickham said. “It’s about making something. We’re giving them the skills to build something with their hands.”
Cub Scout Pack 107 is based at Gregory Elementary School and opens enrollment at the end of the school year for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and continues through the summer. Wickham said meetings start in September.
Photos by Amanda Valentovic