Dover Scouts hold pinewood derby

Cub Scouts look on in excited anticipation.

By Alex Oliveira
Hometown Weekly Reporter

On Saturday morning, the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts teamed up to put on the annual pinewood derby at Dover Church’s Kraft Hall. From 9 a.m. till about noon, scouts from grades one through five cheered and jeered as their colorful wooden carts raced down a metal track at speeds that reached 200 MPH.

After a count of “3-2-1!”, the gates at the top of the track would be dropped, and with a metallic rush, four small wooden carts shot down the metal track that stretched from the Kraft Hall stage and out across the room. Some carts shot down straight and fast, while others rattled back and forth across their lanes before whipping past the finish line and coming to a tumbling stop in a plush pillow.

Each cart was its own work of art. Here a heat of four carts gets ready to race.

Each cart was its own work of art. Here a heat of four carts gets ready to race.

The pinewood days of a wooden track and eyeballed results have been replaced by the technology of 2019. On Saturday, this included a leaderboard over the finish line, which displayed accurate results the moment the carts passed through, and a projection on the screen at the front of the hall which displayed speeds, heat result averages, and instant video replays of each race.

Pinewood derbies are as old as the Cub Scouts, but until recently, they were not included in Girl Scout programs. Beginning last year, the Dover Cub and Girl Scouts teamed up to hold a coed derby, which was met with singing success.

“This is the second year combining the Cub Scouts and the Girl Scouts in the derby, and its been great,” said Darci Rogers, Girl Scout coordinator for the town of Dover. “We’re just trying to offer more science and engineering opportunities for the Girl Scouts. That’s probably the same thing I said last year,” she added with a laugh.

Scouts build the carts themselves within a series of rules and limitations. Signing in before the race, if a cart weighed in over 5 ounces, it was off to a fully-equipped workbench to strip down its frills until it hit weight.

Too fast to catch: a cart tearing through the frame at 200mph.

Too fast to catch: a cart tearing through the frame at 200mph.

Each cart itself was an individual work of art: one cart titled “Super Narwhal” featured a twisted tusk protruding from the front of the cart. Another named “Pencil” was a rolling 200 MPH likeness of a large number 2 pencil.

Rogers aptly described the event as a morning of community at its best. “We’re a small town,” she said, “and this brings people together.”

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