Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Ladies, start your engines! On Saturday, Sweet Pea and I entered her pine wood derby car in her girl scout race.

My dad helped me build my own pine wood derby car when I was in cub scouts. So I was excited to relive those memories with my daughter.

First, I asked SP to pick out a few of her favorite toy cars to use as a template. Out of those, I chose a design I felt my woodworking skills could live up to.

Here is the body design with it's first coat of paint.
It is a convertible sports car and it already looks fast. After SP applied the Malibu Barbie pink, I asked her if she wanted any skulls or flames or lightning bolts on her car. She opted for jewels, sparkle snowflakes and flowers.

She also wanted to paint a picture of a girl with a green dress on the hood. She said it was a picture of Mommy. I said, "Well, if your car travels as fast as when Mommy is driving, you will set a new record."

Once at the race, we weighed in. Her car needed to be as close to 5 ounces as we could get it. I needed to remove one of the cars washers for weight and it brought us to 4.8oz. Just street legal enough. They also made me remove the small turbo charged motor I had added at the last minute. Apparently, they have some bogus rule about fairness and no cheating.

We were told to arrive early for weigh-in because over 100 cars were entered for the race. That meant 100 little scouts and their parents squeezing into about half as many chairs. Luckily, SP had a 'Pit Pass' and could kneel next to the track to watch. Before the race, all of the cars were lined up on the table to inspect and vote for in categories such as 'Prettiest', 'Most Unique', 'Most Colorful' and others. Two scouts made cars that looked like bathtubs and two others made their cars look like Orca whales. The organizer of the derby said that he had done many cub scout derbies but this was his first girl scout derby. "There is a lot more pink and purple to the cars today.", he observed.

Since we had a little time to spend before the races started, I told SP she could get a doughnut to snack on. Of course, she had to pick the messiest one they had.

So I told her to stroll over to her car and brush some of her powdered sugar onto her car's axles to make it faster. She didn't want to waste good powdered sugar on that.

So I sent her in undercover to dig up some secrets that the other scouts used on their cars. She came back to report that other girls painted their cars really pretty too.

At the end of the day, our car was built more for beauty than speed. She didn't win any of her heats, but her car's times averaged right in the middle of the pack. She was a little disappointed that she didn't win anything, but said she still had fun.

The scouts were then offered a chance to build their own wooden car stand. I pre-drilled some holes in the pieces and handed SP the screwdriver. She gave it a good try, but we had to resort to the power drill. She then had to wrestle paintbrushes away from the dozens of scouts all trying to do the same. And guess what? More pink and purple.

All in all it was a memorable day. Even though we didn't win anything we still get to keep the car we made together as father and daughter. And next year, we're going to be faster, smarter and sneakier.


OhCaptain said...

Graphite works great on the wheels and it tastes terrible :-)

Sounds like a good time!

Darren said...

Suddenly I'm excited that Clare just joined Brownies. I hope they do this. I remember it from Cub Scouts too.

Mike said...

I love these derbys.

I wrote this on another site (link below) and it might come in handy for you in next year's race. Good luck

A note to Darren: If you join the Brownies committee you can spearhead getting the derby scheduled as a yearly event. Don't hope for the future, invent it yourself. I am a committee member at my sons Scout Pack and I have some control (voting) over the events we participate in.


The Father of Five said...

Ahhh... Pinewood Derby!!

Mmmm what fun!

Great job on the Malibu Barbie Pink Racer!! And the whole stand idea - totally cool!!

#2 of 5 was always interested in speed and performance.

#3 of 5 was a mix of speed and creativity.

#4 and #5 of 5 (the girls) were always more interested in making it look "pretty"

Me?? I always started planning my car a year in advanced. Speed had NOTHING to do with it. Nope, I always went for the creativity angle.

My two favorite were an "aerodynamic" car, and a casket car... with bits of satin sheets and a mini satin pillow!

Areodynamic car

Casket Pinewood Derby Car

and #3 of 5's final year - he made a Tree Trunk Canoe car.

pixie said...

Such a cute car!! What fun!!

Above Average Joe said...

Sounded like a great day. I bet Mattel would jump at the chance to sponsor her car.

DJ Kirkby said...

This sound sliek such a great time. I hope SP keeps the car at least half as long as keeps this memory, which will be forever.

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.