VINTON– “It’s racing season for local Cub Scouts,” according to Steve Thrasher who works with Cub Scout Pack 235 at Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church in Vinton.“These young Cub Scouts may not be anticipating the upcoming NASCAR season as much as some of the adults, but they were certainly excited about their Pinewood Derby races.”
“Cub Scouts, and their parents, have been working on their Pinewood Derby cars for the last month or so,” said Thrasher. “All of that work paid off in a night of excitement on January 19.”
According to the www.USScouts.org website, “the Pinewood Derby is one of the most popular events in Cub Scouting. Every year across the country more than a million boys and parents team up to carve, decorate, weigh, adjust, fret over, and finally race a Pinewood Derby car.”
The purpose of the Pinewood Derby is to help the Cub Scout build a relationship with his parent or helper (who isn’t required to be a male), to experience a sense of accomplishment and competition, to learn good sportsmanship, and to have fun in the process. The first Pinewood Derby was held in 1953 in California.
The pine wood model cars are made with specified dimensions and limited to five ounces in weight. They are gravity-powered and run down a three lane track, about thirty-two feet in length. There is an electronic eye at the end of the course that determines the winner based on the first to cross the line, not the speed.
“The Scouts design and build their own cars and compete in several different categories,” said Thrasher. “The speed competition pits each car against all other cars in a series of heats with the fastest cars advancing to another series of races. The cars are also judged on overall design. The final award category is the Cub’s Choice award. All of the scouts vote to choose the car they like the best.”
This year’s winners in the speed competition were Alex Huffman, first place; Brandon Clark, second; and Michael Lovell, third.
Jacob Dickerson took first place in the design competition with his Batman car; Jackson Lawrence was second with his Lowe’s 24 Jimmy Johnson car; and Trevor Pino, placed third with his Bacon car. Jacob Dickerson’s Batman car won the Cub’s Choice award.
This year’s judges included Vinton Mayor Brad Grose, Pastor B. Failes of Thrasher Memorial, Eric Landau and Craig Sheets from the Masonic Lodge, and Jan and Denny Dickens representing the United Methodist Men’s group.
“It is obvious that a lot of work went into the preparation,” said one judge.
Parent and child work together to design and build the car. The goal is for the parent to do much of the power tool use when the boy is young, completing the rest of the work as a team. As the child matures and learns to use tools, he takes on more of the actual construction.
The cars are built from blocks of pine. They have tires and axles and weights, and are shaped and decorated as the parent and son team decides. The blocks of wood can be modified with power tools or hand tools, by sanding, or carving. Cub Scouts can purchase derby car kits which include the basic materials.
Cub Scout Pack 235 is part of the Big Lick District which in turn is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The District organizes Pinewood Derby workshops for their Cub Scouts to assist those who have never constructed a car, or who might not have the tools or skills to build the car at home.
About fifteen Cub Scouts from Pack 235 participated in this year’s races at Thrasher Memorial. Anyone who built a derby car on the local level is allowed to advance to the District competition.
“The Pack’s race is just a prelude to the District wide Pinewood Derby races set for February 2,” said Thrasher.
“Cub Scouts from Pack 235 will compete against 100 other Cub Scouts from the 30 other packs in the Big Lick District,” said John Thieberger, District Executive for the Big Lick Packs. “The district race will be held at Tanglewood Mall in the old Stein Mart location beginning at 10:00 a.m.”
Greg Pino is the Cubmaster of the Pack at Thrasher Memorial for boys in first through fifth grades, and also Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 235 at Thrasher, for boys generally 11 years old, in sixth grade and up. The Cubmaster is the leader responsible for the pack’s overall program, who serves as supervisor, planner, recruiter, adviser, and motivator for the scouts and the other adult leaders.
Pino has worked with Pack 235 for nine years, ever since his oldest son, who is now 17 and just completed the requirements for Eagle Scout, was in 2nd grade. The Pino family lives in Stewartsville, where Pino is self-employed as an electrical contractor. Pino’s wife, Tina, is also involved with the Pack as Committee Chair.
Steve Thrasher serves as the liaison between the Church and the Scouts. He was actually a Boy Scout in the Thrasher troop as a child, and stayed on as a leader when he turned 18. He is now employed as the Public Safety Sergeant at Catawba Hospital and is also a member of the Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department.
His focus is on providing a quality program for anyone who wants to join the Thrasher Memorial scouting organization, not just young men who are members of the Church. His goal is to promote scouting and to let residents of the community know about the activities the Pack and Troop are involved in.
According to Pastor Failes, the church is very happy to sponsor the Cub Scout Pack. “It is an important mission of our church.”
“The Pinewood Derby provides a great experience for the scouts to enjoy designing and building a car, racing, and competition,” said Vinton Town Manager Chris Lawrence, whose son Jackson, is a member. “Cub Scout Pack 235 at Thrasher Memorial welcomes anyone who would like to get involved in scouting.”
In addition to the Pinewood Derby activities on January 19, Cub Scout Pack 235 was recognized by Vinton Town Councilman Doug Adams, who is involved in the Vinton Needy Family Program which assists Vinton families during the Christmas holidays. The Pack was recognized for their contributions of canned food and gifts to the Needy Family project.
On February 23, Cub Scout Pack 235 will hold its annual Blue and Gold Banquet at the church to celebrate the boys who are completing the requirements for their rank and advancing to the next level.