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While most Cub Scout packs in the surrounding area are just now preparing for their Pinewood Derby, Pack 109 out of Forest Park completed their annual race this past Saturday at the Howard Mohr Community Center.

I am so proud of Forest Park’s pack and the community that supports us. Our racers this year had cars adorned with flames, Minecraft blocks, a sleek black-and-blue bruiser, and even cars with rainbows. Our track is so cool, each lane marked with a different color, even the new family from Indiana couldn’t help but admire the handiwork of Tim and Jim Flanagan who built the centerpiece five races ago. The Kiwanis Club sponsored our timer back then, which broadcasts each car’s speed to hundredths of a second.

 Schauer’s has become the local hub of official Pinewood Derby racing supplies. Scouts from Pack 109 and neighboring towns rely on Forest Park’s largest hardware shop for necessary supplies, weights, graphite and tools. This year, Urban Pioneer Group on Madison is planning to lead a craftsmanship workshop in February to build a Pinewood Derby display case for scouts who are interested, and I am sure Pack 109 is interested.

The boys and families in my den have collectively been the most competitive families in the pack. This den has produced cars with the top speed in the whole pack four out of five years. Mario Andretti and Jeff Gordon would be right at home with these racers, and the competition is fierce.

 This is my last year with a son in Pack 109. To mark his last race, Logan set out to make the slowest car, a territory uncharted by our family. “The Slug” was engineered as a wedge, light in weight, positioned with the wide end in front, and a specially-designed air resistance scoop to ensure adequate drag. The scoop was painted red to look like a mouth and the body a solid yellow, with two eyes on either side. The slow, steady Slug did not disappoint, poking down the track nearly two seconds behind his fellow Webelos 2 den mates, gradually crossing the finish line before calmly coming to a stop.

Our scout pack master, Kevin Leonard, who served as our master of ceremonies, applauded every scout and every car. Boy Scout Troop 107 taught our fifth-graders how to do an official flag ceremony, set up each race and provided some good-humored songs, skits and jokes along the way. Kevin Ofloy managed the technological details and Daniel Cross jumped in as the record keeper.

No derby would be complete without a fueling station, stoked with protein, fruit and cheese, geared to nourish our kids this year, thanks to Briana Villarrubia — that radical yet simple change enabled our rambunctious boys to eat snacks that sustained without the exhilaration and crash that accompanies donuts and cupcakes. When cars jumped off the track or wheels were damaged, level-headed boys headed to the pit stop team of David Show and Todd Petersen for emergency mending.

Devin Fitzgerald, of the Webelos 2 den took first place overall, followed by Hollis Cross, Wolf; third place went to David Show, Bear; fourth to Kenny Snyder, Webelos 1; and finally, fifth place to Kaleb Thomas, Tiger. Our scouts vote to select special awards, which included Jaiden Smith, whose Batmobile was awarded “Coolest Car;” Zakari Rubio took home “Most Scout Pride; “Kid’s Choice” was awarded to Logan’s “Slug;” and “Best Craftsmanship” went to Kenny Snyder. There was a three-way tie for “Funniest Car,” which was awarded to Aiden Mack and Kenny and Jason Snyder. 

As the Pinewood Derby challenges our next generation through scouting, we hope the lessons of sportsmanship, individual effort, creativity and perseverance will help them develop skills that will one day make them great leaders of our community. 

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