Cub Scouts participate in annual pinewood derby

The sound of small cars streaming down lanes of a wooden track and cheers from a crowd filled the gymnasium Sunday afternoon at St. Ambrose Catholic School.

It was a moment that had been in the making for some time, as about 20 members of Cub Scout Troop 526 gathered for the annual pinewood derby.

The group, with boys and girls between kindergarten and fifth grades, turned in their pinewood derby cars they had carved and painted.

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Each grade level had a den and competed in several heats of races with the winner receiving a trophy.

Some of the cars were carved into the shape of a semi, while others were shaped and painted to look like the Batmobile.

Other cars used different weights and shapes.

“I love seeing all the personalities come through the paint and decorations on the car,” Cubmaster Bonnye Good said.

Each Scout received a kit in December that included a block of pine, plastic wheels and metal axles. It was up to them to find the best shape, size and weight.

The only rule was that the car had to be 5 ounces or less.

The cars were not powered by Co2 cartridges but with gravity. They are simply placed in a row at the top of a raised track before a string is pulled to let the cars glide down a slope before crossing the finish line.

George Good, 7, who was part of the Wolf den, had one of the more unique cars. It was shaped and painted to look like an alligator.

He said he chose to make it an alligator because a few of the leaders of his group are from the south, including his mother, Bonnye.

“I like alligators and because the den leaders are from the south,” he said, adding it took him about four days to get it ready. “It’s a little tribute.”

George said his father, David, carved it for him, and he was pleased with how it turned out. George painted during art class. The slender green car sits low to the surface and has the face of an alligator with teeth on it.

“I was able to paint the teeth right along here,” he said, pointing to the front of the car. “It’s exactly 5 ounces.”

Raylan Motsinger, 6, and Marcus Pelston, 6, took time before the race to look at each of the cars, including George’s.

“I think everyone made a cool one,” Motsinger said.

Bonnye Good said the pinewood derby is a tradition in Cub Scouts and that troops all over the country conduct their own races.

Troy Peters, a committeeman for the race, said the local troop has organized a race for about 40 years with the exception of a few years. In Seymour, it’s a tradition that began in 1960.

Building the pinewood derby cars is a lot of fun for families, Good said, because it provides an opportunity to share some time together and be creative.

“It’s a great bonding experience,” she said, adding the participants are at liberty to design what they want. “I also like seeing the families cheer on the car.”

The race also gives the Scouts a great lesson in committing to something and working to accomplish it, she said.

It also gives them a little design and construction experience and a whole lot of ingenuity.

“It gives them a feeling of getting an idea and coming through with it,” she said. “The Scouts grow so much from the start of the year to the end, and you can see it, and I think the pinewood derby plays a role in that.”

This year included a little bit of extra fun, as organizers conducted a chili cook-off between parents, Good said.

Participants could choose from six styles, including Midwestern, Texas and Louisiana-style chili, and vote for their favorite with a quarter. All of the proceeds went to the group for future activities.

“It came between a discussion between a few of us where they were debating whether or not noodles belong in chili,” Good said. “We decided to decide it through a contest.”

Good said it is an active group, participating in a number of events in civics, math, science and other subject areas.

“We want them to improve minds and bodies to where they become self-sufficient,” she said.

Anyone interested in joining Scouts can show up to a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Mondays at the St. Ambrose Catholic Church parish center.

While the event brought families closer together and important lessons were learned, Good said the best part was the activity itself.

“Who doesn’t love a good race?” she said.

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Winners of the Cub Scout Troop 526 pinewood derby (by dens)

Lions: Noah Ramos

Tigers: Raylan Motsinger

Wolves: Noah Rorick

Bears: Eli Cravens

Webelos: Ethan Radar

Chili cook-off winner: Rob Daugherty

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Interested in joining Cub Scout Troop 526?

The group meets at 6:30 p.m. each Monday in the St. Ambrose Catholic Church parish center in Seymour.

For information, call Bonnye Good at 812-216-5969.