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A Tiny Race To The Finish

Syosset Cub Scouts race

homemade cars at Pinewood Derby

The miniature cars used in Pinewood Derby may be small enough to fit in your hand, but you’d never know it by the sounds emanating from the H.B. Thompson Middle School cafeteria on a recent Friday night.

From the way the Cub Scouts of Pack 168 screamed and cheered, one would think they were trackside at the Indianapolis 500. What the race may have lacked in scale, it made up for with enthusiasm.

Pinewood Derby, held annually a few weeks after the New Year, is famous for the small, homemade, hand-painted cars that the boys create just for the occasion, which are then raced on a sloped wooden track. The Cub Scouts of Syosset in particular got to show off their own creations last month, when both Pack 205 and Pack 168 held their very own derby events. Pack 205 raced its original cars on Saturday, Jan. 12; Pack 168 on Friday, Jan. 18.

As popular as Pinewood Derby is, it has a bit of a dark side; all too often, troop leaders have to worry that overzealous, competitive parents will build the cars all by themselves. However, at least in Syosset, that doesn’t seem to have been much of a problem this year.

“The cars were great—you could tell a lot of them were really kid-made,” said Debby Lowe, committee chairperson of Pack 168. “They were really creative this year, with all different themes.”

Luke Mangal, Cubmaster of Pack 205, said much the same in regard to his pack. “The kids get more and more creative every year,” said Mangal. “It is always a joy to see the beaming smiles not just from the Scouts, but from the parents and especially the grandparents. The event is a rite of passage for every Scout and it’s amazing to see the creativity and dedication from the Cub Scouts.”

Aside from the pure joy of creating something new, Scouts have incentive to personalize their projects; in addition to building a fast car, the boys win awards for both originality and craftsmanship. However, even those who didn’t walk away with a certificate or a trophy got to hear their friends cheer at the top of their lungs as their very own car zoomed (or, occasionally, wobbled) down the track.

The next big event on the Syosset Cub Scouts calendar is the Blue and Gold Celebration in March, when the oldest Cub Scouts, the Webelos, will become full-fledged Boy Scouts. There’s also plenty of camping and other outdoor events to look forward to during the spring and summer, but for more mini-racecar fun, Scouts will just have to wait for next January; Derby season comes but once a year.