Calvin joined Boy Scouts in the fall, and one of their most popular activities is the Pinewood Derby. The boys (with a lot of help from their dads--and some moms) build little cars out of a block of wood and then race them down a track. That is a very oversimplified explanation of the whole event, because in reality there are a ton of rules and regulations about the way your car can look, the types of wheels you can have, the weights you use. And then there are all sorts of creative ways to make your car the fastest while not exactly bending the rules (not that we tried any of that, of course).
And apparently, there is whole Pinewood Derby industry, as I learned when I was sent to Michaels to get new wheels for Calvin's car. I thought it would be a simple task, and asked the lady working inside where the shelf of derby car kits were located. She paused, smiled, and led me to a whole section devoted to the little boxy contraptions, reminiscing about how different it is now compared to what it was like when her 30-year-old son was a Boy Scout. Now, you can buy all sorts of prefab shapes that you can then just paint as you would like. There were also stickers and designs and wheels in all sorts of neon colors, although Noah later explained that those are forbidden in Calvin's pack.
He and Calvin opted for their own original, classic design, and then added a little Lego driver man (Calvin's idea). They worked on this car in a little makeshift workshop in our the garage for several hours each weekend, and the work looked something like this:
And the car looked like this:
The event was canceled two weeks ago because of snow, but finally took place this week. I thought I would just join the boys for the beginning of it, so I could see all the cars and the start of the race. The cars were amazing. Most of them had your pretty basic race car look, but a few had some more creative shapes, like one that looked like a giant Lego man and another fashioned like a rolled-up Washington Post. There was another featuring a Kiss logo with (I think) Gene Simmons as the driver?? That had to be some dad's idea:
I only planned to stay for the first few minutes, but I ended up getting completely sucked in. There was a huge crowd there, with boys and their parents each cheering for their own cars. They were egged on by a jolly announcer in a Scout uniform who told them that the louder they yelled, the better their cars would perform--guaranteed. As a result, it was bedlam. And it was a little scary how into we all got.
The announcer was great, calling out the cars in a fun, fast-paced way. "In the first lane, we've got Mr. Berlin, going against the 0-man in lane 2." That kind of thing. The kids loved it. And so did their parents.
Calvin's car did well, winning several races, but unfortunately did not place. He seemed excited though and maybe just a little overwhelmed.
Checking out his car at the end and plotting modifications for next year: