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Cub Scout Pinewood Derby

Armored Car


by David and Patrick Keenan - Mundelien, Illinois USA







In the US, we have a group called the Cub Scouts.  The Cub Scouts is an auxiliary group directly related to the Boy Scouts of America for boys too young to join the Boy Scouts.  The Cub Scouts is for boys ages 6-12 years old.  The aim of the scouts is to help boys develop good character, morals, spirituality, physical and mental fitness.  Both of my sons, my wife and I are all involved with our local Cub Scout group (or "Pack")  (Pack 712 - Aurora, Illinois).


Each year, tens of thousands of Cub Scouts participate in an event called "the Pinewood Derby".   The Pinewood Derby is a tradition many years old in the Scouts.  I participated in the Pinewood Derby when I was a boy, and before that my father did also.  The aim of the Pinewood Derby is to have each boy and his parent(s) build a racing vehicle out of a simple pine wood block, wheels and nails (for axles).  Certain parameters need to be met, including height, weight, width and depth restrictions, but after that, anything goes.  After a certain amount of time, most local Cub Scout Packs hold a competition to determine which boy has built the fastest vehicle or car in the separate age groups.  Winners of the separate sub-groups in each Pack (or, "dens") sometimes race to see who has the fastest car in the pack.  It can go even further than that where Pack race winners race other pack winners for city or District Championships.


However, the Pinewood Derby is not all about speed.  Many Packs have awards for "best design" and/or "best paint finish".  Den winners can even vie for Pack awards as well for these criteria. Our first year competing in the Pinewood Derby (2003), my son David and I decided to build a car for speed, and we did quite well at the Den, Pack and even City level.  The next year, 2004, David and I decided to build a car that "looked cool".  Well, David always liked my military models, so he decided to build a tank.  Since we couldn't use tank treads, we decided an armored car would be better suited for the race.  We went through my spare parts box and David picked out the pieces he wanted to use with the pine wood block.  We used such things as a turret from a H35 or R35 French tank, an MG34 ball mount for a German tank, jerry cans, Sdkfz 232 smoke dischargers, side doors from an M3 Grant, etc.


The pictures shown above are what we came up with for the competition. David helped me cut the block in a certain shape, sand the body and airbrushed the finish with Tamiya Olive Drab and Red Brown.  He then went to my spare decals box and picked out a number of water slide decals and he helped me apply them to the finish.  I am happy to report that our Pinewood Derby Armored Car did quite well in the design category and many people in our pack really liked our design.  We received many complements of the unique and "realistic" design we used.  We won 1st Place in our Den's "best design" category and moved on to the Pack finals for that same award.  We ended up taking 2nd Place in the Pack level competition for "Best Design".  Most importantly, David and I had a great time together working on our armored car and it is proudly displayed in my modeling case.  I remember the Pinewood Derbies I had participated in when I was a boy, and I hope David will also.


Patrick Keenan- May 2005