Pope's Peeves
Pinewood Derby Opinions
"Stan Lets Off Steam!"

This one page is a page of opinions. They are my opinions. I paid for the page, so I get to put my opinions on it! I have tried to make the rest of the site as factual as possible, and the stress finally got to me... I had to let off some steam... and this is it!

You are welcome to agree or disagree. You are even welcome to tell me so... my E-Mail address is at the bottom of almost every page of my site, including this one. I routinely acknowledge every E-Mail received, unless it looks like a bulk-mailed advertisement. Those I delete without opening. So if your E-Mail gets past the "filter" but it looks, from the outside, like a bulk-mailed ad (you know what I mean), it will go in the "bit bucket" with no delay.

Hang on.... here goes:

#1 - Who Races the Cars?

Ever seen anyone drop a Pinewood Derby Car... bits of plastic wheels flying every which way? You really feel sorry for that youngster. "Golly, I'm sorry that you damaged your car... let's see if it can be repaired."

Ever seen anyone drop someone else's Pinewood Derby Car? Unforgivable! And almost totally avoidable.

Who knows better how to race a pinewood derby car than the youth who built it? Ever see a well meaning adult stage a car backwards on the track? It's owner would never do that!

Ever see an adult carefully align a car on the track so that it has its best chance to win? It's owner would!

And besides, caring for the car, carefully staging it at the starting line, and carefully returning it to the pit after its heat are all part of the thrill of racing. Much more fun than watching a bored adult slapping each car into the starting gate.

How do you explain why his car was returned to him after the races with its axles askew?

It's simple! Add one racing rule: "From the time the car is checked in until racing has completed, only a car's owner may touch it!"

It is a little slower, and you need a watchful starter and a nice stepstool at the starting gate, but it is much more fun for all!

#2 - Double Elimination Boredom!

Even the slowest Pinewood Derby car ever built has a Cub Scout who is it's proud owner! A Cub Scout who put all of his skill and knowledge into making that car. That Cub Scout deserves every chance to race.

In a Double Elimination format one-fourth of the cars stop racing after they have run two races against opponents. By the third time all the cars have raced against opponents, one-half the cars have retired. The fastest cars may have several more races after that, while the slowest sit on the sidelines and watch.

Picking the fastest car is only part of the purpose of racing. "Racing" is the other purpose. Getting the racing "out of the way" as quickly as possible only satisfies part of the purpose.

Go look at the Stearns Method for conducting a Pinewood Derby Race. Bill Dunn, Pack 339, has a nice page on the subject: Everyone gets plenty of racing action.

Then go look at my adaptation Pinewood Derby Race Method Evaluation - a CASE Study which retains the "lots of racing" aspect, while adding the accuracy that may be needed to correctly award the racing trophies and select the pack's representatives to the district or council races.

Original: Before 1/29/1998 Latest update: 2/23/2001 - New links to Stearns Method info.

Copyright 1998 © by Stan Pope. All rights reserved.