RACE DAY

While some boys quickly placed their car on the 33-foot-long sloped wooden track, others took a little more time, squinting to make sure it was perfectly lined up at the start line.

Then they ran to the end of the track, waited for the green light and watched with anticipation to see if their car crossed the line first.

The winner jumped up and down, smiled, cheered and looked at his parents with pride. The other boys quietly picked up their cars and waited for another chance to race.

In the end, trophies and ribbons were handed out. But the fun everyone had during Cub Scouts Pack 526’s annual Pinewood Derby on Sunday at St. Ambrose Catholic School in Seymour was the best part of the experience.

“Watching the boys mainly is what I find the most exciting, seeing the guys actually competing against each other but yet having that camaraderie where they can actually cheer each other on,” Cubmaster Shane Bontrager said.

“It’s something they have built, something hands-on for them that they have worked on, something they can take pride in and then get an opportunity to run,” he said.

Austin Clark claimed first in the open class and Bears division, while Ben Beavers won Wolves, Paul Bontrager won Webelos and Jordan Quick won Tigers.

Those boys move on to the Lenni Lenape District competition Feb. 28 at FairOaks Mall in Columbus. The district includes Jackson, Bartholomew, Jennings and Decatur counties.

Winners there advance to the state competition at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.

The Pinewood Derby is for boys in Grades 1 to 5. Before Christmas, each boy received a kit with a block of wood, wheels, axle and stick-on numbers. The cars had maximums of 7 inches in length, 2¾ inches in width and 5 ounces in overall weight.

“Beyond that, it’s basically sky high on whatever they want to do,” Shane Bontrager said of a car’s design.

This was Austin’s first time competing in the race. He and his father, Jim Clark, spray-painted the front of the car orange and faded it into purple. Once that was dry, the numeral 1 was put on the front.

They added a triangular-shaped piece of wood to the back end of the car and metal squares to the bottom of the car to make it heavier.

The final touch was adding graphite to the axle to make the wheels spin better and help the car go faster.

Then, it was off to the races. Austin said he didn’t expect to win the way he did.

“From the other people that were here, I actually expected to lose because some of their cars looked cool,” he said. “I just sort of didn’t expect to get this, and I won.”

Austin said he was happy to have his father, mother and sister on hand for the event.

“From the experience, we just all had fun and had a great derby race,” he said.

In constructing his car, Jordan said he and his father looked online for a design. They wound up going with black and white stripes, adding an eagle emblem pin on the right side and putting numeral 7 stickers on both sides.

Jordan’s mother, Brandilyn Quick, said that, since it was his first car, they didn’t know what to expect on race day. Jordan said he had a good time painting the car and then racing it.

While Austin and Jordan are new to racing, Paul Bontrager is a veteran. This was his fourth year competing.

This year, he decided to make the middle of his car skinny but with extra weight.

“If I would have done it skinny all the way, that wouldn’t have really worked,” Paul said. “The middle is basically just one big weight.”

He painted it yellow and red to make it look like flames, and he went with No. 10 since that’s his age.

“It looked a lot different in my head, but how it is now is definitely a lot cooler,” Paul said of the car’s design.

Paul will be competing in the district competition for the second time, and his goal is to take the crown. Shane Bontrager said Pack 526 has sent several boys to district in the past, but none have won.

Competition at district is tough, and track styles change, he said.

“Our track, we’re a long, gradual slope,” Shane Bontrager said. “District has a quick slope down and then a long, flat track. Where you have your weight (on the car) can really make a difference.”

No matter what happens, Paul said he has fun with the races.

“It’s one of my favorite things about Cub Scouts because I love building cars and then racing them to see if they are fast,” Paul said. “It’s just fun to see if your car is the fastest or your friend’s car is the fastest.”

The Pinewood Derby also is fun for the adult pack leaders because it takes them back to their childhood when they raced.

“It hasn’t really changed all that much,” Shane Bontrager said of the event. “But the pride that you used to have in yourself with it, now you get that pride with your kid. That really is cool.”

Webelos den leader Kevin Beavers said a lot of adults remember racing when they were younger.

“You would be amazed at the number of people you meet out in life that say, ‘I remember when I was a Scout and we did that,’” he said.

Troy Peters, pack committee chairman, said it’s good to see his sons doing something he once did.

“My boys definitely do better than I did,” he said, laughing. “You remember the things you should have done back then, and you tell your kids to do that to their cars now.”

Peters said he likes seeing the kids work together and make it fun.

“You see a lot of the older boys helping the new boys with their cars,” he said. “It’s nice to see that the older boys are taking advantage of their experience and sharing that with the younger boys.”

At a glance

Cub Scouts Pack 526 Pinewood Derby results

Open class: Austin Clark, first; Carlos Rodriguez, second; Paul Bontrager, third; Jesus Tencle, fourth; Jordan Peters, fifth

Wolves: Ben Beavers, first

Webelos: Paul Bontrager, first; Dylan Peters, second; Sam Beavers, third

Bears: Austin Clark, first; Jesus Tencle, second; Carlos Rodriguez, third

Tigers: Jordan Quick, first; Diego Aguilar, second; Aiden Rodriguez, third; Carter Ames, fourth

At a glance

Cub Scouts Pack 526 meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays in the St. Ambrose Catholic School cafeteria, 301 S. Chestnut St., Seymour.

Tiger Cubs is for first-graders, Cub Scouts is for second- and third-graders, and Webelos is for fourth- and fifth-graders.

Pack 526, consisting of 17 boys and 12 adult leaders, is part of the Lenni Lenape District, which includes Jackson, Jennings, Bartholomew and Decatur counties. The district is part of Hoosier Trails Council Boy Scouts of America, which is based in Bloomington and serves 18 counties and more than 11,000 registered Boy Scouts members throughout south-central Indiana.

Pack 526’s annual events include the Pinewood Derby (wooden car race), Loop-o-ree (earning belt loops for a variety of skills), Shoot-o-ree (shooting skills) and a regatta (boat race). It also performs community service projects and marches in the Oktoberfest parade.

For information about Pack 526, call Cubmaster Shane Bontrager at 812-524-0533.

For information about Hoosier Trails Council, visit hoosiertrailsbsa.org.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.