It’s a race to the finish at Pinewood Derby

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NUTLEY, NJ — Nutley’s Cub Scout Pack 141 returned to the John H. Walker Middle School gym on Friday, Jan. 27, for its annual Pinewood Derby, racing down a track to determine the fastest homemade cars. Joseph Kaplow’s car won first place with a speed of 159.25 miles per hour; Carter Teese came in second and Gabriel Tischio rounded out the top three.

The Pinewood Derby cars are made from a block of wood with four wheels, and each participant can decorate it to look like anything he wants, as long as it weighs 5 ounces or less. The goal is to make it move down the track the fastest, and cars compete four at a time in 64 heats to determine the top three fastest. Awards are also given to the cars determined to be the Funniest Car, Best in Show, Most Scout Spirit and the Leader’s Choice.

“They get very psyched up,” Pack Leader Dan DiCristo said in an interview with the Nutley Journal at the event. “It’s a big deal. They get the cars around Christmas, and then they have time to decorate them.”
Scouts in first through fifth grade participate in the race; kindergarten Scouts make a car and send them careening down the track, but only for fun. It’s one of the events they look forward to the most. DiCristo’s son is in fifth grade and this is his last year of competition, but he said he wants to return next year to help log the cars and race times.

“It’s all about smoothing the axles,” DiCristo said. “They’ll sit there for hours, rubbing them down with sandpaper or steel wool. Who knows how much it really helps, but they enjoy doing it.”

Nicholas Tomaszewski won Funniest Car, Joseph Kaplow won Most Scout Spirit, Joseph Healey won Best in Show and Jax Odi won the Leader’s Choice award.

“This is one of those things that when they get older, even if they don’t remember a lot about Cub Scouts, they remember this,” Pack Chairperson Walt Smith said in an interview with the Journal at the event.